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 rednessdilated blood vessels and "broken" blood vessels on the face, neck and chest
It also has a lesser effect of improving skin texture through collagen stimulation and improves pore size minimally by temporarily reducing oiliness
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.
What are the treatments like?
A cool gel is placed on the skin being treated. The smooth glass surface of the handpiece is gently applied to your skin and pulses of light flash. You may feel a very slight sting, like the snapping of a small rubber band.
At the end of the treatment, the gel is removed and the area is cleaned with a warm cloth. A moisturizer with sunscreen is then applied. If there is any mild swelling, you might be given a cold pack to apply for five or ten minutes.
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.
What results can I expect from photorejuvenation treatments?
After your first treatment, you can expect to see some redness, darkening of brown spots, and light swelling. These symptoms will resolve in several hours to one week. Makeup can be immediately applied, if desired. After the treatment, your skin will feel smoother and have a more even tone. A gradual decrease in overall redness, flushing, age spots, and fine lines will be more visible after each treatment.
How long will the results last?
That 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.
How does the 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 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.
F or 2-4 weeks before your treatment, avoid self-tanners and excessive sun.
You may be asked to discontinue minocycline, tetracycline, doxycycline or Retin-A/Renova several days prior to each treatment.
You may be asked to avoid taking aspirin, ibuprofen, or Aleve one week prior to treatment unless medically indicated to help prevent bruising.
Protect your improved skin with sunscreen every morning. Hats and sunglasses are also good protection from the sun.
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.