Guide on IPL Treatments
IPL: Intense Pulsed Light
IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light – it is a cutting-edge and multi-purpose light treatment which can be used for hair-removal, anti-ageing and skin inflammation like acne. Its wide range of treatments sets IPL apart; it can be used to minimise sun damage, birthmarks, age spots, rosacea and sagging skin – it can treat surface-level broken blood vessels (on your face for instance) and even varicose veins – and it can permanently remove unwanted body and facial hair.
The most common query when it comes to IPL is how does it differ from laser treatment? The key difference is that while laser uses one directed light wavelength, IPL uses many different wavelengths simultaneously, creating a wider reach, like a photo flash. IPL gets down into the lower skin layers, leaving the top layer undamaged. The light energy given out by IPL is absorbed by pigment in the skin – then – when the light is converted to heat, the pigment, dark spot or hair follicle is destroyed. (In the case of hair removal, as with laser, IPL works better on darker, thicker hair.)
IPL technology is increasingly being used for skin rejuvenation. Remarkably, this same pigment destroying principle is employed to improve sagging skin. IPL’s controlled damage to the skin’s pigment kickstarts the body’s natural healing processes – removing the melanin but also causing an increased synthesis of collagen. These two factors mean IPL can significantly improve both skin texture and appearance. IPL can be used to tighten skin on the body as well as the face and jawline. It’s a non-invasive rejuvenating procedure with no anaesthesia or downtime. For the best results, six treatments spaced several weeks apart are usually recommended.
There are some things you should avoid several weeks prior to IPL treatment – any sun exposure at all should be avoided, as should tanning beds. Any chemical treatments such as acid peels should be avoided at least two weeks before treatment and vitamin A derivatives like retinol and RetinA should be put on hold. It’s also important to avoid or stop taking drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen that can increase risk of bleeding.
On the day of your appointment your skincare professional will clean the area, apply a special gel and then introduce the IPL machine. The light pulses are applied systematically to the area and most treatments should take no longer than 30 minutes. You will be given a pair of glasses to wear to protect your eyes from the light flashes. The pulses can feel like something being snapped against your skin – it’s important to communicate with the technician throughout as they can adjust the pace and intensity according to your needs.
There shouldn’t be a great deal of downtime with IPL – occasionally your skin may be very sensitive post-treatment and you will need to avoid irritating it further. Usually the effect will be that of a mild sunburn – and this should fade within a few days.