Facials are an excellent way to clear out pores and exfoliate the skin’s surface to appear brighter, but a Photofacial IPL treatment goes deeper. The light beams clear out pigmented cells, repair broken blood vessels, and pushes out old and damaged skin cells giving you rejuvenating results that can’t be achieved with a typical facial.
It’s hard to believe that flashes of light could get rid of blotches, spots, and scars on the skin because light can seem so harmless. But light energy can be very powerful, especially paired with highly advanced technology of light beams with different wavelengths.
So how does an IPL photofacial work? Can light really get rid of aging spots and Rosacea? And how long does it take to see results? We explain all there is to know about IPL treatments for the face.
Photofacial is an IPL (intense Pulse Light) therapy method that uses a handheld device that releases light with different wavelengths, like a photo flash. The light from an IPL device shoots out in a broad spectrum, and the energy scatters and penetrates down to the second layer of the skin (dermis) without harming the top layer (epidermis).
The light energy from the beam converts into heat, creating a controlled wound, targeting the hemoglobin (red blood cells) and melanin (pigmentation) in the skin, intentionally damaging these areas. The damaged cells naturally break up and are absorbed by the body, eliminating the pigmentation beneath the skin’s surface.
IPL systems have evolved over the years with more sophisticated light source technology that delivers various wavelengths within each light pulse instead of just one wavelength. This enables a treatment to cover multiple skin issues at the same time and area. It provides more efficient and comprehensive results.
The objective for an IPL skin treatment targets pigmentation of skin cells such as:
A board-certified cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist will first cleanse the skin of any impurities, make-up, or dirt and apply a gel to help keep the skin cool and protected. The patient will wear protective eyewear to shield from the light pulses.
The doctor will lay the device on the specific areas while emitting a light pulse, causing a snapping sensation on the skin. A session can last 20-40 minutes, depending on the size of the treated area.
The cooling gel is wiped off, and sunscreen will be applied to the areas that received the treatment. Patients will be advised to avoid sunlight for the first few days and notice redness and slight swelling immediately after the procedure. These symptoms will dissipate after a few hours from the treatment.
A week after a photofacial IPL treatment, the skin will develop pepper-like flakes or chips from the treatment areas. The is a sign of the skin cells drying and the pigmentation slowly being destroyed from the procedure.
Achieving the desired results could take up to six sessions, with a month in between each visit, to get the skin cleared from any blemishes or marks.
An ideal candidate for photofacial IPL treatments includes:
Since IPL treatments target the pigmentation in the skin, darker skin tones are not recommended for this type of procedure. Putting light and heat on naturally pigmented skin could exacerbate the issue even more by making it darker. This issue is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which means the darkening of the skin after inflammation.
The main benefit of a photofacial IPL treatment is the broad spectrum of light that can target multiple skin issues at once without damaging the skin’s surface. Unlike a laser treatment that is highly targeted to get rid of a specific issue, photofacial IPL treatment by design covers a larger spectrum in one shot and area.
It may take several months and sessions to achieve the desired look you want, but we think you will also save time from treating each skin imperfection individually with other treatments.
To find a board-certified cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist experienced with performing photofacial IPL treatments, use our “Find a Doctor” navigation tool for a medical professional in your area.