An IPL Photofacial, or “Fotofacial,” is a 30-minute procedure in which intense pulses of light are used to penetrate deep into the skin and reduce or eliminate many common effects of aging, including facial wrinkles and skin discolorations. IPL™ photorejuvenation also encourages the production of collagen, a natural protein that fills in wrinkles, making the skin smooth and supple, and causes collagen and blood vessels below the epidermis to constrict, reducing redness and age lines. With each treatment, the results more pronounced. The procedure simultaneously removes damaged and photoaged skin while stimulating collagen growth. It can improve the color, consistency, and texture of the skin all at once!
It can treat a wide variety of skin problems including facial wrinkles and skin discolorations. It can be used to remove red spots or diffuse redness and it can help with acne or rosacea. Treatments can also help to smooth uneven skin texture, close large pores, and eliminate wrinkles by stimulating collagen growth.
Patients who have blotchy, sun-damaged, or discolored skin, or whose skin is affected by large pores, freckles, or wrinkles, may benefit from an IPL photofacial. The procedure is also quick and involves no downtime, making it a convenient option for people with busy schedules.
Before the procedure begins, you will be given protective eyewear to protect you from the bright flashes of light. A cool gel is often applied to the treatment area, both to lubricate the handpiece and to help cool the epidermis during the treatment. During the IPL photofacial you will feel a warm sensation coming from brief pulses of bright light given to the skin through the handpiece. Some patients liken the sensation to a light “snap” from a rubber band. The number of pulses you receive will depend on the size of the area being treated.
Following the procedure, we may recommend you ice down the treatment area to help soothe any discomfort from the procedure. This is often unnecessary, however, as IPL causes very little pain.
- Your skin should be thoroughly cleaned and dried, removing any makeup, creams, oils, topical anesthetics or self-tanning products before laser treatment.
- If you have had a history of herpes simplex virus and are scheduled for facial treatment, prophylactic antiviral therapy may need to be prescribed.
- The intended treatment area should not be exposed to sunlight or tanning booth light for 14 days prior to treatment.
- Avoid aspirin or other blood thinning drugs (vitamin E, Ginkgo Biloba), ibuprofen, or arthritis medication for 2 weeks before and after treatment as these medications can lead to excessive bruising.
- Please discontinue using any retinol products (Retin A, Renova, Differin, Tazorac), all alpha hydroxyl acid products (those containing glycolic or lactic acid), salicylic acid products and other topical acne medications such as benzoyl peroxide 1 to 2 weeks prior to your appointment if you are receiving laser treatment on the areas where those topicals are being applied. This can make your skin more susceptible to damage from the laser.
- Please avoid antibiotics and/or any photosensitizing medications during the time of treatment. For patients who are on antibiotics, please allow two weeks from the last day of your medication to come in for an appointment. If taking any hormone stimulating or anti-depression medication, please notify our technician prior to treatment. Many of these medications can make you photosensitive and susceptible to damage from the lasers.
- Avoid alcohol and/or smoking for two days before and after treatment.
- Patients who are taking the medication Accutane (Isotretinoin) should not have an IPL photofacial until at least six months after they stop using the drug.
- Pregnant women should postpone treatment until after they give birth.
- If you develop a fever or other illness before your appointment you must reschedule.
- Patients with tanned or naturally dark skin sometimes experience changes in skin pigmentation after IPL photofacial treatment. African-Americans and patients of Greek and Italian descent, for example, will need a skin evaluation and discuss possible side effects before opting for this procedure.
The recovery time from an IPL Photofacial is often very short, as there is very little damage done to the skin during treatment. Depending on the skin condition you are seeking to remedy as well as your skin type, the redness that is present following the procedure may persist for a longer or shorter period of time. The side effects of IPL photofacial treatment dissipate within a few hours for many patients. For some patients, however, the redness or dark spots may take a week to fade. Patients treated for severe acne sometimes experience longer recovery times, though they are often amazed by the results when the side effects wear off.
Most common side effects are redness, minor swelling, and inflammation – usually go away within a few hours to a few days after treatment.
- Immediately after treatment, there may be some redness and/or mild swelling, which may last up to a few hours post treatment. In rare instances swelling and redness have lasted several weeks.
- If there are a lot of pigmented spots, they will become darker over the week post treatment and “pepper” or flake off.
- There is a very low risk (less than 1%) that other side effects may be experienced including bruising, skin wound, infection, and scarring, hypo and hyper pigmentation, and surface irregularities. Subsequent treatments may be necessary to improve these should they occur.
- The most important things to remember following IPL photofacial treatment are to avoid the sun for several days and to wear plenty of sunblock for at least two weeks. Intense pulsed light therapy can give you excellent results but you must take care to ensure your skin is protected for the first few weeks after treatment.
- Multiple treatments are necessary to achieve maximum results, especially if you are seeking to remedy multiple problems.