Light therapies provide a range of noninvasive cosmetic procedures that get results without surgery or harsh chemicals. It’s not all about lasers either, as intense pulsed light therapy (IPL) targets a wider range of skin conditions. Christina Stokke, Dr. Kevin Stokke, and the team at Nouvelle Medical Aesthetics in Davis, California, use IPL for a number of skin pigment issues. Call to schedule your consultation.
IPL systems work in a way similar to lasers. Each uses light energy to target specific pigments and tissues in skin to create the desired cosmetic effects.
Where IPL differs is that it uses broader wavelengths of light, while lasers use only a single frequency at a time. Since skin pigment issues each respond to different wavelengths, IPL systems can treat a wider range of conditions in a single session.
The many frequencies of light available through IPL systems are typically filtered to address the specific skin condition being treated at any one time. Filtering minimizes impact on surrounding tissue. For example, when an age spot is treated, light is filtered to reduce energy absorption in the outer skin layers. Because of this, IPL systems can also deliver non-ablative facials as an alternative to chemical peels.
IPL treatments frequently target skin discoloration, such as red and brown discolorations. Rosacea, visible red blood vessels, port wine stains, and cherry angiomas (small red spots on the skin) respond very well to IPL. Fine lines and wrinkles respond well to IPL due to the collagen stimulation produced.
Depending on the skin problem and the size of the area to be treated, IPL sessions take about 20 minutes. Four to six sessions are typically needed to achieve maximum effect, with each session scheduled between two to six weeks apart. Prepare for treatment by avoiding sun exposure for about six weeks. This minimizes tanning pigmentation that may reduce the effectiveness of IPL treatment. Avoid any light-sensitizing medications, herbals, or topical preparations before treatment.
IPL treatments are typically “lunchtime” sessions. That is, you can receive a treatment over your lunch break and return to work immediately with no recovery time. The IPL treatment feels similar to an elastic band snapping. Just as sunlight energy is absorbed into the skin to cause sunburn, IPL treatments may cause a reaction similar to mild sunburn. This reaction typically passes in a day or two. The IPL treatment utilizes a special cooling device and gel to reduce effects on the skin’s surface.
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