When it comes to skincare, more and more women are literally seeing the light. Cosmetic procedures that involve the use of light waves and laser light are all the rage these days because of their ability to make the skin look all bright and beautiful without the need to undergo surgery. In this article, let's focus on a common cosmetic procedure called IPL and find out why everyone's raving about it.
What IPL skin rejuvenation means
IPL skin rejuvenation, referring to intense pulsed light therapy, is a non-invasive cosmetic procedure that uses bursts of light from a handheld device to improve the skin's appearance. When we say "bursts" of light, there's no magical Cinderella-esque transformations involved. You just need to lay down (or stay seated in a recliner) and the therapist will use a handheld IPL device across your skin.
Now, don't let that intimidate you. IPL treatments are quick, with no fanfare. The light waves do not include any harmful wavelengths, unlike ultraviolet waves, and are set within an appropriate range to address various skin concerns.
Intense Pulsed Light vs Laser
IPL therapy and laser facials are similar in their goal of giving your skin a healthy glow and a more youthful appearance. Another thing that's common to both is that multiple sessions are often necessary to achieve optimal results. The differences lie in their methods of treatment.
Intense pulsed light has the ability to penetrate into the skin's second layer (dermis) without harming the top layer (epidermis). It uses a broad-spectrum visible light that's scattered in different wavelengths. As the light touches the skin, the pigments in the skin cells absorb the light energy and convert it into heat. This process is what destroys unsightly pigmentation, like that of spots and freckles. Apart from getting rid of spots and marks, IPL is also powerful enough to destroy hair follicles to keep hair from growing again.
On the other hand, laser treatments are made of controlled energy pulses that can be targeted toward highly specific areas. Like IPL, it has the ability to go deep into the skin (perhaps even a little deeper) without damaging the surrounding skin or tissues. Unlike IPL where the light is scattered, the laser uses a single spectrum of densified light. The downtime period with laser sessions is generally longer compared to IPL, but this will depend on the type of treatment that you receive. Your consulting clinician will discuss all your options during the consultation period.
You should talk to your aesthetician about which facial rejuvenation option works best for your skin type and your schedule. Laser resurfacing therapies require a little more grit and commitment from you, as they can get pretty invasive but, trust us when we say that it's all going to be worth it! Whichever your clinician recommends, sticking to your regimen and treatment plan will have you looking fresh and ready over time.
The IPL Procedure
So what happens during an IPL treatment session?
IPL treatments aren't a walk-in procedure. You need to schedule a consultation with your clinician ahead of time. You might need some preparation with the correct products for a few weeks before the treatment to ensure that your skin responds as it should, especially if it's your first time. In the days leading up to your treatment schedule, you should avoid prolonged sun exposure as much as possible and be generous in applying a high-SPF sunscreen to shield your skin from UV rays (yes, even if you stay in the shade and don't go out).
Other things to avoid doing during the prep period is taking aspirin (especially on the day of treatment) and other anti-inflammatory medications and using any skincare products that contain abrasive ingredients (for two weeks ahead of time) as these might increase skin sensitivity. The consulting therapist will check all of these at your consultation and advise what to avoid using, if necessary.
On the day
On the day of the procedure, you should walk into the clinic bare-faced and without any makeup. Your therapist will cleanse your skin first and then ask you to wear special protective glasses before applying a cooling gel and starting the actual light energy treatment. Expect to feel a warm or sometimes tingling sensation as the IPL device moves across your face. As each pulse of light is delivered, it will feel like a rubber band snapping. It’s normal for your skin to feel hot and tingly afterwards.
The entire procedure can take around 30 minutes. Expect the treatment area to feel a bit warm and sensitive, with some skin redness, but this will normally wear off after a few hours. If we’re treating capillaries, there can sometimes be a little bruising but this will go away in five to seven days. If you’re having pigmentation treated, the treated pigment will go very dark (don’t worry, this is the goal!); however, over the course of 10 to 14 days, this will flake off! If it's your first time on IPL, you might need a day or two to recover, depending on your skin's condition.
You should not expose yourself to the sun and MUST wear a high-SPF sunscreen for the next several weeks. Your beauty therapist will provide you with aftercare guidelines and recommend skin products that you can use while on recovery.
Benefits of IPL skin rejuvenation
Who is IPL for? Light therapies work best on those with pale to light brown skin. Patients with dark skin might not react well to light or laser skin therapies because of the higher amounts of melanin, which can cause even more pigmentation if light is applied.
These are some of the common indications for IPL treatments, though you should still talk to your clinician beforehand to ensure that it is the right option for your skin tone or condition.
- Redness due to rosacea
- Brown spots (liver spots or age spots)
- Dark spots (due to hormonal shifts)
- Broken blood vessels (broken capillaries)
- Discoloration and uneven skin tone
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Unwanted hair
IPL treatment contraindications
While intense pulsed light technology may be used to treat many common skin concerns, it might not be for you if you:
- are pregnant
- are taking medications for other health conditions
- are using skin products that contain retinoids
- have keloid scar tissue or severe scarring
- have a skin resurfacing disorder
- are very dark skinned
- have just tanned your skin either through sunbathing, tanning creams, or tanning beds
Choosing the right provider for IPL skin treatments
IPL skin rejuvenation treatments should be performed by trained and experienced beauty therapists who understand how light waves affect the skin and the do's and don'ts around the procedure. While it is non-invasive, light therapies still work to make changes on the skin's surface and should not be performed at home or just by anybody who can operate the technology.
Lovoir Skin Body and Beauty has skilled aestheticians on staff who understand what light treatments can do for one's skin, allowing us to give professional advice on the types of therapies that will work best for your skin type.Talk to us about IPL skin rejuvenation today so we can customize a treatment plan that will work best for you.