San Diego Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Photorejuvenation

Intense Pulsed Light, also known as fotofacial involves the administration of a broad spectrum of wavelengths of light to the skin. Because this technology delivers light of many wavelengths, it is technically not a laser. Intense pulse light (IPL) treatment is one of the most effective methods of treating sun-damaged skin, blood vessels, age/sun spots, the redness of Rosacea, permanent hair reduction, scars, stretch marks and warts. Different filters can be used to target specific components of the skin including brown pigment (melanin) in the skin and hair follicle, and the red hemoglobin within blood vessels. A series of 3 to 5 treatments at approximately 4 week intervals, is usually required to achieve the desired results.

Advantages of IPL

IPL is a non-ablative procedure, meaning it does not damage the superficial layer of skin. Unlike ablative treatments such as CO2 laser resurfacing, treatment with the IPL is associated with minimal (essentially zero) down-time. Because the IPL is non-ablative, however, this procedure does not address deeper scars and wrinkles.

Possible Risks and Complications

Although treatment with the IPL is generally very well tolerated, temporary redness, swelling, crusting, itching or blistering of the treated skin can occur. Men must be warned that permanent hair loss may occur in treated areas. Patients can apply makeup immediately after treatment and return to work.

Description of the Procedure

To protect your eyes from the intense light, you will have your eyes covered with protective goggles. A thin layer of gel will be applied to the treatment area to ensure even distribution of the light. A smooth, flat, crystal is placed gently against the skin. You will feel a warm, brief, snapping sensation on the treatment area and a bright flash of light that may startle you. The treatment itself takes approximately 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the area. Numbing the skin with topical anesthetic prior to treatment is usually not necessary, but is an option and will make the procedure more comfortable.

Immediately following the laser treatment, the area usually appears pink and should fade over the next couple of hours. Brown lesions will darken and will begin to peel after 5-7 days.

Aftercare Instructions

  • A bland moisturizing lotion or cream (e.g. Aveeno, Cetaphil, Eucerin, Cerave), and/or aloe vera gel should be applied to the treated areas 2 to 3 times a day as long as discoloration and peeling are present.
  • You may use cover-up makeup if you are bothered by the post-treatment appearance.
  • Do not rub, scratch, pick at, or over-irritate the treated area
  • Avoid bleaching creams, Retin-A, glycolic acid, and other irritating products until the skin returns to normal (2 weeks or longer after IPL treatment).
  • If the area becomes tender, swollen, red, or develops signs of infection, please call the office immediately.
  • Avoid or minimize exposure to the sun until redness and peeling have resolved (2-3 weeks is recommended).
  • A sunblock of SPF 35 or higher should be applied daily to prevent pigmentation changes until the treated area has healed.  If any areas have scabs or are oozing (rare), dilute vinegar compresses should be applied twice daily, using 1 teaspoon of table vinegar per cup of water.

Feel free to ask Dr. Chen and staff for more information on the Intense Pulsed Light and whether you would be a good candidate for this treatment.