Intense pulsed light (IPL) also known as Broadband Light (BBL) therapy is a non-invasive and non-ablative treatment method that incorporates using high-intensity pulses of visible lights to improve the appearance of various skin problems, such as vascular lesions (port wine veins, rosacea, and broken facial veins), age marks, freckles, facial lines, and wrinkles. Photorejuvenation, a special procedure that rejuvenates the aged skin, requires a few IPL treatments. Additionally, multiple IPL treatment sessions can effectively reduce mild to moderate acne and stretch marks.
In IPL systems, the light energy is converted into heat energy which causes damage in the targeted areas. IPL systems are different from lasers because they deliver multiple wavelengths in each pulse instead of one. A lot of IPL systems use filters in order to refine the outputted energy for the treatment of affected areas. As a result, those filters enhance penetration without applying excessive energy levels and allow targeting specific chromophores.
IPL therapy is known as non-ablative resurfacing technique, meaning that it only targets the lower layers of the skin (dermis). It is seen as more advantageous than ablative therapy that targets both lower and top skin layers due to its short downtime period. In other words, a patient’s recovery period is quite short and the patient can immediately return to one’s daily activities.
As previously mentioned, IPL targets different vascular lesions like port wine veins, rosacea, and broken facial veins. The light pulses target the red pigment (haemoglobin) in the blood which heats and destroys the pigment without affecting the skin or other tissues.
Moreover, IPL also targets pigmented lesions, such as freckles, age spots, flat pigmented birthmarks, and other skin discolorations like melasma. Light pulses are targeted at the melanin found in the skin’s surface- melanin gets destroyed and; thus, discoloration is removed.
Patients who are getting IPL treatments are highly recommended to avoid any sun exposers a few weeks before and after the treatment. Prior to the procedure, a cold gel is applied to areas designated for treatment. The smooth, glass surface of the IPL head is applied onto the skin, which delivers the pulses of light into the targeted area.
Treatment sessions usually last approximately 20 minutes. The course of 4-6 treatment sessions every 3-6 weeks is required in order to achieve desired results. Throughout the entire procedure, the patient must wear protective eyewear provided by the dermatology office. The overall procedure is considered to be painless in comparison with other techniques used for facial rejuvenation.
The side effects are usually minor. The skin may turn pink and feel a bit sore right after the procedure is done. A mild sunburn sensation (peeling and redness) may last for a few days after the procedure was done. Facial hair loss may occur.
The IPL can be combined with other treatment modalities including other ablative and non-ablative resurfacing procedures.
Centre for Medical and Surgical Dermatology offers IPL therapy as a treatment option for various skin conditions unique to each patient.
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