What is IPL?
IPL stands for “Intense pulsed light”. It is a technology which enables treatment of multiple skin conditions, such as pigmentation and small vascular malformations (telangiectasia).
This technology is also known to the public as photorejuvenation.
This machine is not a laser in strict terms, but a broad light source, which can target multiple skin structures at the same time. Different filters are used depending on the skin colour and target. Results tend to be more gradual and subtle when compared to lasers.
For which indications?
IPL is useful for superficial pigmentation such as freckles, lentigos and melasma (pregnancy mask). It is less useful for deeper pigmentation of the face or certain types of pigmentation (acne marks). It is also useful for redness and certain skin conditions such as rosacea. IPL can to a certain extent improve the texture of the face, but remains inefficient in the treatment of deep wrinkles and expression wrinkles (crow’s feet and frown lines). Scars are not indications for IPL treatment.
What IPL machines are available?
Many machines are available on the market. Some machines are used for hair removal while others for photorejuvenation. Wavelengths vary between 500-1200nm. Skin cooling is necessary to protect the surface of the skin (epidermis): this reduces the risk of burning and blister formation.
How many treatments are needed?
So as to obtain visible results, 4-6 treatments each spaced 4-6 weeks are needed.
Is it painful?
An anesthetic cream is applied one hour before the treatment. During the treatment, a small burning sensation may be felt by some patients. It is generally very well tolerated and painkillers are not necessary.
What are the possible side effects?
The risk is low. Return to daily activities is possible almost immediately following the treatment.
In general, a slight redness is present and lasts for at most a few hours. Less often, the redness may last 1-3 days and rarely blistering may occur. Following the treatment, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation may last for several months; darker skin types are more at risk for this as well as those exposing themselves to the sun.
What to do after the treatment?
Nothing is to be done regarding the treatment itself. In case of redness, the doctor may prescribe a steroid cream with a moisturizing cream. In case of hyperpigmentation, a depigmenting cream and sunprotection may be useful.
Is it useful?
The degree of improvement is variable and depends on the severity and depth of vessels/pigment to treat. For those with superficial and deep pigmentation, the results are partial. Any improvement must anyways be maintained by appropriate skin care such as sun protection and moisturizing creams. For vascular lesions, results can be quite good. IPL is not the treatment of choice for wrinkles and scarring. Also discuss other treatment options with your dermatologist (botulinum toxin injection, fillers injection) for this.
Source of information: here