What is IPL (photofacial) photo rejuvenation treatment?

IPL or Intense Pulsed Light is not actually a laser.  Lasers by definition are single wavelengths devises, like the red light that comes out of your laser pointer.  IPLs are more like a flashlight with full range of wavelengths of light.

Most are basically Xenon lights with filters attached. IPLs have been around since the 1960s, and their use ranges from treating pigmented and vascular lesions to hair removal.

The term “photorejuvenation” is a catch-all term that can cover just about any light based procedure that is used to make you look younger.

IPL Pros

  • Very good at decreased brown pigment like sun spots
  • Good for generalize redness like that of Rosacea
  • Treatment are normally modest in price (about $400-$500 for a full face)
  • Limited down time: brown spots turn darker until they break-up after about 10-14 days
  • Can be used to activate Levulan for Photodynamic Therapy (PDT),  which is normally used as a treatment for pre-cancerous skin lesion and severe acne.

IPL Cons

  • Some non-MD providers may not recognize certain skin condition (like melanoma) that should not be treated.  This can lead to delayed diagnosis and significantly decrease a patient’s chances of surviving this type of skin cancer.
  • Can lead to burning and scarring if done improperly
  • Can leave footprinting (areas of light skin in the shape of the treatment handpiece next to areas of  darker non-treated skin) 
  • Is not as effective as other treatments (Pulsed Dye and Nd:YAG lasers) for treating small blood vessels
  • There are much better procedures for improving collagen and fine lines (Laser Genesis, Active FX)

All in all, in experienced hands IPL can be a very good tool for patients with pigmented age spots (sun spots) and/or redness.

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