Treatment FAQ

What is IPL photorejuvenation used for?

Photorejuvenation (IPL – Intense Pulsed Light) laser treatments are most commonly used for:

  • Lightening and removing “sun spots”, “age spots”,  and brown blotches on the face, neck, chest, hands and other areas of the body
  • Lightening and reducing redness, rosacea, dilated blood vessels and “broken” blood vessels on the face, neck and chest
  • Helping to control flushing
  • It also has a lesser effect of improving skin texture through collagen stimulation and improves pore size minimally by temporarily reducing oiliness

Photorejuvenation, when done properly, almost always consists of a series of 3-5 treatments, usually one every three to six weeks. The benefits of photorejuvenation treatments are achieved with little discomfort and minimal risk.

How does the IPL treatment improve the appearance of blood vessels, rosacea, and age spots/freckles?

The laser/IPL device emits a range of lightwaves that are then tuned and targeted at hemoglobin (the red blood cells in the blood vessels) or melanin (the brown pigment in freckles and age spots). The light beam passes through the skin and is absorbed by either hemoglobin or melanin resulting in damage to the vessel wall or fragmenting of melanin pigment. These tiny vessels and the melanin pigment are then absorbed by the body, rendering them less visible.

How long does it take for laser photorejuvenation treatments to work?

Most people need 3-5 months, which consists of a full series of 3-5 treatments about 1 month apart.  You can see some improvement with each treatment, but it’s common for your response to be slightly different to each treatment. The more sun damage or redness you have, the more likely you are to need a full five treatments.  Some cases of severe redness or brown spots require more than 5 treatments. Expect to see gradual clearing over time.

Do IPL Photofacial treatments hurt and how long will they take?

There may be mild discomfort during the treatment, but most patients tolerate removal of dilated blood vessels or age spots/freckles and fine lines very easily. The first treatment is usually the “zingiest.” As your skin begins to clear, the treatments usually become even more comfortable. Treatments usually take 30-90 minutes, depending on the size of the treatment area.

What will I look like right after the IPL treatment, and what is the healing time?

For veins, generally, the skin looks slightly redder after the treatment for two to five days. Makeup can be used starting right after the treatment, as long as it is applied and removed very gently. Rarely, there is bruising, which can take 1-2 weeks to resolve.

For freckles and age spots, the spots generally look darker for 3-7 days. Crusting can occur, which may last up to ten days. The lesions will then begin to clear and will generally be resolving at one month. Remember, it takes an average of 3-5 treatments to clear age spots.

How long will the results from a photofacial last?

Tht depends on how much sun exposure your skin gets after your laser treatments.  If you are in the sun a lot and do not use sunscreen, the underlying issues, whether they are redness or brown spots, will return.  But if you take good care of your skin and keep it protected from the sun, your skin will continue to look good with annual maintenance treatments.

If you want to maintain collagen growth, we currently recommend a treatment every 6-12 months. Other conditions are more variable. If you are very red, once or twice a year may be needed.

How does an IPL treatment increase collagen?

The light bypasses the outer layer of skin (the epidermis) and gently heats the cells in the deeper layer of skin (dermis). These cells, called fibroblasts, start to produce more collagen, which improves texture and fine wrinkles.

Will the IPL Photofacial treatment make me more sensitive to the sun?

No, it does not. You can have the treatments done any time of the year but summer is more difficult if you pick up color easily in the sun. The good effects of the treatments won’t last very long if you are getting much sun exposure. You can wear a sunscreen every morning and wear hats to protect your skin and decrease redness, brown spots, wrinkles, and skin cancers.

What should I do prior to my photorejuvenation treatment?

Your laser center will give you their instructions prior to your first treatment but here are some of the basics.

  1. For 2-4 weeks before your treatment, avoid self-tanners and excessive sun.
  2. Discontinue minocycline, tetracycline, doxycycline or Retin-A/Renova several days prior to each treatment.
  3. Avoid taking aspirin, ibuprofen, or Aleve one week prior to treatment unless medically indicated to help prevent bruising.
  4. Protect your improved skin with sunscreen every morning. Hats and sunglasses are also good protection from the sun.

Who should not get these treatments?

Avoid laser treatments in pregnancy because no testing has been done.

Are there any side effects?

The main side effects are mild, temporary swelling, redness, an accentuation of the brown spots, crusting, and an occasional bruise or small superficial blister (like a sunburn blister).  There are rare other side effects which your laser center will review with you in your consent form.