What is an IPL Photofacial?
Photofacial or Intense Pulse Light (IPL) Therapy is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure used to help reduce the appearance of fine lines, discoloration, and other skin tone irregularities. Photofacial uses a broadband light source to help target multiple common skin issues in one easy procedure which is often repeated for optimal results. It is an in-office procedure that can be performed comfortably and easily with little downtime. Photofacials are not as powerful as some laser and chemical resurfacing but are effective for pigment, redness and mild texture problems. The advantage of IPL over other modalities is that it is gentle and has little downtime.
Who is a good candidate for a photofacial?
IPL photofacials are best for addressing pigmentation issues. So, if you have blotchy, sun-damaged skin with lots of freckles, IPL photofacials are an effective treatment. They also shrink large pores, remove broken capillaries, and lessen fine lines and wrinkles. Rosacea responds well to IPL treatments.
IPL photofacials are not effective for darker skin tones or deeply tanned skin, as the IPL wavelengths cannot differentiate between the age spots/pigmentation problems and the rest of the skin.
If you’re using Retin-A, doxycycline, or other medications, they will have to be stopped for one week prior to your photofacial.
What are the benefits of IPL photofacials?
Photofacials at Dr. Trussler’s are excellent skin treatments that involve little or no discomfort and no downtime. Unlike ablative resurfacing, photofacials don’t remove the skin, so there are few risks and no real recovery. After these treatments at our Austin offices, you can get right back to your normal activities. We like IPL photofacials because they can improve a wide range of skin problems thanks to their wider wavelengths of light energy and the depth of penetration. Here are some specific benefits of our photofacials: Photofacials…
- Can remove small blood vessels that have become more visible
- Are great for removing sun spots and pigmentation irregularities
- Help with acne and reduce large pores
- Are good for treating rosacea and other conditions that involve skin redness
- Involve deeper penetration, so they can stimulate new collagen production
- Can easily be combined with other treatments, such as microdermabrasion, that target the outermost layer of the skin
How does an IPL photofacial help my skin?
There are two ways IPL photofacials benefit your skin. First, the light energy penetrates the epidermis layer of the skin (the outer layer) and gently heats the dermis, the skin’s second layer. When the body senses this heating in the dermis it responds as if it has been wounded by producing new amounts of collagen and sending it to the “wounded” area. Since collagen provides the skin’s underlying support structure, this firms your skin and reduces lines and wrinkles.
The second photofacial benefit addresses your pigmentation problems such as age spots and wrinkles. The darker cells absorb the IPL energy and the melanin pigment fragments. The body then absorbs the pigment cells and the spots become less and less visible. With veins, the energy is absorbed by the dark blood, heating the vein. This heating causes the vein wall to collapse and close off the vein. The body then scavenges the vein and it completely disappears.
What Are My Options?
Laser skin resurfacing is commonly performed with either a carbon dioxide (CO2) or an erbium laser. Although the process for these procedures is very similar, the erbium laser is typically used to treat deeper lines and wrinkles within the face, hands, neck, and chest. It is also better for darker skin tones. Your doctor will determine which laser is best for you after evaluating the condition of your skin and your medical history, while also considering your desired results.
Laser skin resurfacing can be used to treat:
- Sun damage
- Crow’s feet
- Brown spots
- Precancerous growths
- Chickenpox scars
- Superficial facial scars
While this procedure is most commonly performed to treat the effects of aging, it can be performed on patients of any age who are looking to restore their skin to a smooth, clear complexion free of blemishes and other imperfections.
Although laser skin resurfacing uses the same basic principles of other procedures and treats aging, damaged skin by removing a layer of skin, it does so through a noninvasive approach that uses laser energy to remove as much skin as needed. This allows for a much deeper removal through more precise and less invasive techniques.
During the laser skin resurfacing procedure, the laser energy is used to remove layers of damaged skin to leave the treated area smoother and more even through short pulsed light energy that is precisely delivered to the area. The laser is moved over the targeted area multiple times until imperfections are no longer visible and a smooth layer of skin is left. The laser energy causes minimal heat damage to the surrounding structures.
This procedure is performed on an outpatient basis and uses local anesthesia to help minimize discomfort. The entire procedure can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to perform, depending on the size and condition of the treated area. Some patients may require more than one procedure in order to achieve their desired results.
After Care & Recovery
After the laser skin resurfacing procedure, patients may experience mild swelling and discomfort for a few days. These symptoms can be controlled with ice packs and medication prescribed by your doctor. Patients will also experience redness that gradually diminishes as the skin heals. While most patients can return to work and other normal activities after a few days, redness may persist for several weeks.
The results of laser skin resurfacing may take months to fully appear after all signs of redness have diminished. Although the results are long-lasting, they are not permanent. The skin will still be subjected to the natural effects of aging, although your skin will appear younger and smoother than if you had never had any treatment at all.
How long before I will see results from my photofacial?
Results from photofacials are not immediate. The darker cells from your age spots and sun-damaged skin need to absorb the IPL energy and then begin to slough off. After your treatment, your age spots will first darken, but then they will begin the process of breaking down and peeling off and otherwise being absorbed by the body. This takes a few weeks. Your broken capillaries generally respond immediately, but collagen needs to rebuild to improve large pores and fine lines.
How long will my results from my photofacial last?
The changes in your pigmentation problems and blood vessels are permanent. After the IPL energy breaks down the melanin in your sunspots and closes off those small surface blood vessels, your body removes them as waste products. Whether you develop more sunspots and broken surface blood vessels are dependent upon your sun exposure moving forward. More sun exposure will create more sunspots and areas of blotchy pigmentation. But if you take good care of your skin and protect it from the sun, your skin will continue to look good for the long term.
Are there any risks with photofacial treatments?
There really aren’t any long-term risks with IPL photofacials. These are well-tolerated treatments. After a photofacial you may have some very minimal swelling and redness on the treatment areas. This passes in just a few hours.
Photofacials performed at nail salons and the like can cause hyperpigmentation and occasional skin blistering, but our team at Dr. Trussler has extensive training and experience, so this is not a problem.
How many IPL photofacials will I need?
A series of initial photofacials will deliver a higher level of skin improvement, but how many treatments you seek depends on your goals. A single IPL photofacial will deliver noticeable improvements, but many patients have from 3-5 photofacials to actively address their skin issues. From there, they have a photofacial once or twice yearly as maintenance, as this continues the boost in collagen production.
Is there anything I need to do after I have a photofacial?
After a photofacial your skin will be unprotected against sun exposure. You’ll need to stay out of the sun for several days, and then be sure to use plenty of sunscreen for the next two weeks. It’s really a good policy regardless. After all, those age spots and other pigmentation issues you just had treated were thanks to the UV rays from that big orange ball in the sky.
How much do photofacials cost?
The cost of your IPL photofacial at Dr. Trussler’s can vary depending on the areas you’re targeting. Once we have an idea of your goals we can tell you what a session will cost.
*Disclaimer: Results and individual patient experience may vary.