What Is Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)?

 What Is Intense Pulsed Light

Intense Pulsed Light, briefly referred to as IPL, is a technology used by dermal therapists based on light therapy. IPL releases intense pulses of noncoherent light with different wavelengths (400 – 1200 nanometers) to target and treat pigmentation, unwanted hair, wrinkles, birthmarks, thread veins on the face as well as a myriad of other medical issues.

Being less focused and more scattered than a laser, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) can penetrate all the way down to the second layer of your skin, otherwise known as dermis, causing no damage to epidermis, i.e., the top layer.

How does Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Work?

Using a hand-operated flashgun, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is a technology delivering a pulse of light in the spectral range of 400 – 1200 nanometers. The pulse of light is high powered, intense, and visible. In order to safeguard the skin texture from ultraviolet (UV) light and, generally, from shorter wavelengths, a variety of filters are used on the flashgun. The filtered light will have a spectral range suitable for targeting the structure to be treated, most often melanin, and chromophores (the parts of molecules responsible for their color) for heating them to destruction, so that they get carried away and reabsorbed by the body. The result: the dark spots on your skin fade!

Like in laser treatments, IPL uses light to bombard and fade away the target. Unlike lasers using just one color, i.e., a single wavelength of light, IPL employs a spectrum along with an array of filters. The polychromatic light can reach various chromophores in your skin, which makes IPL considerably more efficient (than laser) against different skin conditions.

When using the IPL, the light energy is converted into heat and absorbed by the pigment cells in the skin or by the follicle in the unwanted hair. The heat is capable of destroying both leading to clearing up the freckles and/ or stopping the hair from growing again.

Only your well-trained dermal therapist knows which wavelength to choose and which filter to use in order to suitably target your specific chromophore.

What Will You Experience?

If you are in overall good health, IPL treatment is generally safe. You can go back to work or to your daily routine immediately.

The IPL procedure is administered by a hand-operated device in form of a flashgun, which delivers the light pulses. IPL targets certain colors in your skin by converting light energy into heat. In other words, the unwanted skin cells, hair follicles, or anything for which you are getting IPL, goes away by means of the heat. To protect your skin in contact with the device, cooling is applied.

Prior to getting the IPL treatment, your dermal therapist will examine your skin and inform you of the procedure. It is important to inform your dermal therapist of any skin conditions you may have e.g., eczema or inflammatory acne, since s/he knows about their effect on your healing post-treatment. Your skin care specialist may also suggest that you avoid specific medications, products, or activities for about two weeks before the treatment.

Generally, you should avoid the following prior to IPL treatment:

  • Collagen injections
  • Waxing
  • Sun exposure
  • Chemical peels
  • Tanning beds
  • Products containing glycolic acid or vitamin A, e.g., RetinA
  • Such medications as Ecotrin (Aspirin) and Advil (Ibuprofen), which elevate the bleeding risk

After getting IPL rejuvenation treatments, the elimination or improvement of uneven coloring; sunspots, freckles, or other hyperpigmented parts of the skin; sun damage or redness; stubborn melasma; broken capillaries and acne will be noticeable.

Who Is Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Good for?

As a generally safe and effective treatment, IPL can be good for everyone in overall good health. Although working better on even areas than on uneven ones, IPL can be used anywhere on the body. ALWAYS look for a specialist if you decide for IPL.

Whether it is about hair removal on your face, underarms, legs, neck, chest, back, and bikini line, or about sun damage, freckles, rosacea, broken blood vessels on the face, and age spots, IPL can help eliminate or minimize the issue and it is equally suitable for men and women.

IPL reduces redness and pigmentation and reverses the sun damage by fading the dark and blotched areas on your face or body. IPL also improves the overall texture of your skin by stimulating collagen production and inducing the skin to rejuvenate itself as well as by maintaining a smooth and youthful skin resulting from removal of unwanted hair or pigmentation.

Who Is Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Not Recommended for?

IPL may not be as effective on light-colored hair.

If your skin is of darker tone or if your body tends to get keloid scars, IPL is not recommended for you.

Make sure you inform your dermal therapist of any skin conditions you may have e.g., eczema or inflammatory acne, since s/he knows about their effect on your healing post-treatment.