Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

We all desire to look younger than our age and at the same time we also look for the simplest way to achieve this.

With recent advancements, many new skin care techniques have been developed. Some are invasive while some are non-invasive. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is a non-invasive skin procedure that is not only safe but also swift and easy. It is used to treat various skin problems and is usually carried out by medical practitioners. As the name implies, the procedure employs a light beam which is comprised of specific wavelengths to target a variety of chromophores present in the skin.

Advantages of Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Procedure

The advantages of IPL are numerous. Most popularly, it is utilised in a number of way to make your skin appear younger, brighter and smoother. It is used to treat these problems and skin disorders:

  • Birthmarks
  • Signs of photo-aging
  • Blemishes
  • Brown skin pigmentation
  • Unwanted hair
  • Poikiloderma
  • Freckles
  • Sun damage
  • Fine lines
  • Acne
  • Rosacea
  • Mottled pigmentation
  • Even damaged veins and capillaries
  • Age spots
  • Wrinkles

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The Procedure

The procedure begins by the application of a cold gel on the area where the treatment will be targetted. Then, a specialist gently applies the glass surface of the IPL on the skin. This glass surface is smooth and provides pulses of light. The light energy is converted into heat energy which influences the chromospheres of that area. This leads to fragmentation of the targeted tissue and it is then subsequently absorbed without any harm to the nearby tissues. This leaves the skin rejuvenated and even. The treatment also works by provoking the skin’s deeper layers to manufacture more collagen.

Similarly, IPL is also used to remove extra hair and is popular for this purpose. The process is same; the light beam is focussed on the targeted area and is applied. The light after travelling to the skin reaches the hair shaft. The light energy is converted to heat energy and leads to immediate vaporization of the hair shaft or bulb. Keep in mind that by the help of Intense Pulsed Light, the total number of hairs can be reduced but cannot be permanently removed; IPL is not a permanent hair removal technique.

It is not a painful procedure so an anaesthetic agent isn’t necessary. People may however feel a little tolerable discomfort. In some people however, anaesthesia may be needed to reduce the pain. The whole process lasts only for 20 minutes, often less.

To obtain the desired effect, it is recommended to undergo 4 to 6 sessions of IPL treatment. And also in order to maintain the results, this therapy is required after every 6 months.

Contraindications of Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

Light-based skin or hair treatment may impact on certain health-related conditions. Its use is therefore contraindicated if you are suffering from problems such as untreated herpes infection, open skin wound or severe injury of the skin, sunburn, or keloid. It is even not allowed if you have had a recent skin waxing. It is not permitted in cases of skin cancer or contagious skin infection. It is contraindicated in cases of medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, epilepsy and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding their babies are also not allowed to undergo this procedure. So it is essential to go through a full medical examination before opting for IPL.

Risks and Complications

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is not totally free of complications. There are some risks associated with it and these are mainly feelings of soreness, discomfort, pain and even swelling. The skin may become red after the procedure and it may mimic sunburn. Usually these problems are temporary and resolve on their own within a day or two. Also, with Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment, there is a tiny risk of alteration of pigmentation of the area where this procedure has taken place. It can make that particular area of the skin look either darker or lighter in the form of patches. People with darker skin tones are found to be more susceptible to this problem of change in pigment after this procedure. This pigment problem fades away but may need a few months to settle.

The good news is that Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) has no grave complications. Those listed are minor problems that settle on their own. These can however be prevented if good care is taken by the specialist.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q. How often will treatment by Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) be required?

A. For hair removal, five to ten sessions are usual recommended and are carried out at three to six weeks interval. For skin-related problems four to six treatments are enough. But maintenance treatment is needed for both.

Q. What important care is needed prior to the procedure of Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)?

A. Before the procedure, protection from the sun is needed. One must not undergo plucking, waxing or threading. Use of bleaching creams is also not allowed before the procedure.

Q. What important care is required after the procedure of Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)?

A. Avoid the use of creams containing salicylic or glycolic acid, avoid deodorant and perfumes within 24 hours of the treatment. Likewise, swimming and hot baths are also not allowed for 24 hours after this procedure. It is must that you protect yourself from the sun and it rays after the procedure. Use sun blocks if you go outside.

Q. Does it produce pain?

A. This procedure is not painful but you may experience a slight discomfort, which resolves within a few hours. Should you feel discomfort after the procedure, apply cold compressions. This will settle the swelling, pain and redness.

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