The effects of everyday life can take a toll on the skin over the course of several years. People often forget that pollutants in the air, UV sun rays, indoor reinforced air, and diet all play a role in how our skin ages. A maintenance routine that involves high-quality skincare products with regularly scheduled cleansing facials may be sufficient for some, but sometimes a stronger type of facial treatment is required to really bring out the brilliance of the skin by targeting underneath the layers of dead skin cells in the dermis of the face. Fortunately, most of these conditions are treatable with Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), also referred to as a photofacial or fotofacial, and most recently, the next generation of IPL lasers, known as Advanced Fluorescence Technology (AFT). This treatment is a 30-minute non-ablative, which means that no skin is removed during the procedure, during which intense pulses of light are used to penetrate deep into the skin. IPL photorejuvenation causes collagen and blood vessels below the epidermis to constrict, reducing redness and age lines.

What Is IPL?

Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy was invented by Dr. Patrick Bitters Jr. The IPL photofacial skin procedure involves the use of an intense beam of broad-spectrum light (as opposed to lasers, which operate within a very specific wavelength) that targets the dermis, the lower layer of the skin. The wavelengths of light penetrate deep into the skin tissue to stimulate the cells beneath the skin’s surface and trigger the body’s response to eliminate injured tissues and dead skin cells. The procedure simultaneously removes damaged and photo-aged skin while stimulating collagen growth. IPL photorejuvenation therapy can improve the colour, consistency, and texture of the skin all at once. The treatment ultimately integrates a common principle: heating and stimulating the dermis (the inner layer of the skin) while cooling and protecting the epidermis (the outer layer). Common conditions that may suggest that you are a potential good candidate for an IPL laser treatment include sun damage, rosacea, hyperpigmentation, discoloured skin, blotchy skin, and other frequently complained about symptoms like acne scars, enlarged pores, freckles, and the number one contender . . . wrinkles! IPL is an ideal treatment for those seeking a gradual, natural rejuvenation to the face, as the treatment stimulates your own natural collagen to rebuild and rejuvenate the skin over the course of several weeks and several treatments, resulting in skin that appears more luminous, brighter, and smoother.

Is It For Me?

IPL skin treatments using photo rejuvenation will effectively
– treat broken veins and capillaries
– reduce redness caused by broken capillaries and rosacea
– eliminate spider veins
– treat imperfections from sun damage and photo-ageing age spots
– even out skin colour for a more youthful, rejuvenated look
– decrease fine lines and wrinkles
– treat enlarged pores and acne and acne scarring

IPL laser treatments are ideal for those who do not wish to have a surgical procedure or those who can’t accommodate or commit to the time frame of a surgical procedure into their busy schedules. IPL has been reported to be safe and effective on light, untanned skin tones, so those with deeply tanned or dark skin are to consult with their plastic surgeon or dermatologist on the risks involved with getting this treatment for their skin types. When performed on the right person, it effectively improves skin texture, eliminating discolorations, reducing pore size, and minimizing wrinkles and fine lines. The procedure involves only minimal discomfort, while the redness and swelling that sometimes occur after treatment disappear shortly. Most benefits of a photofacial/fotofacial occur gradually in the weeks following treatment.

Is It Safe?

IPL photorejuvenation is one of the safest light-based facial treatments available. Most patients experience little or no pain during the procedure. Some patients have reported that the light pulses feel similar to a light snap from a rubber band. There have been few reported long-term side effects of IPL photorejuvenation, and the most common side effects (redness, minor swelling, and inflammation) usually go away within a few hours to a few days after treatment. The wavelengths of light penetrate deep into the skin tissue to stimulate the cells beneath the skin’s surface and trigger the body’s response to eliminate injured tissues and dead skin cells.

IPL treatments are typically administered in a series of 4 to 6 treatments performed at intervals of a minimum of 3 weeks.

How Long Will It Last?

Immediately after your treatment, your face will appear slightly red or flushed, but this is completely normal. It will take several hours to a day or so for the treatment’s results to become noticeable. The redness will fade, and you will see improvements more and more. Depending on the condition you are treating, your experience will differ. For example, if you are treating acne with IPL photorejuvenation, your skin may remain red for several days before you notice an improvement. If you are seeking to stimulate collagen growth, the redness may disappear sooner, and you will begin to see a smoother skin texture within a few days.

Though recovery from IPL treatments is rapid, it is important to keep in mind that sunscreen is vital to ensuring that the results of the procedure last as long as possible. Be sure to protect the treated area from the sun for at least a couple of weeks, either by covering the area or using strong sunscreen protection.

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Dr. Cory Torgerson
Dr. Cory Torgerson
Dr. Cory Torgerson is one of Canada’s most talented and prominent facial plastic surgeons, focusing on head & neck facial surgery. Dr. Torgerson has been frequently invited to teach and lecture on these topics across North America. He has hospital privileges at Sunnybrook Hospital, one of the premier hospitals in the University of Toronto Health Network.
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