Intense Pulsed Light and Photodynamic Therapy
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
Patients often ask us what they can do to improve their skin aside from traditional spa services such as facials or peels. An IPL, or Intense Pulsed Light, is an excellent treatment that we offer at Pacific Plastic Surgery to correct a variety of skin concerns and to improve the overall appearance of the skin. An IPL is a light-based treatment that uses a filtered pulse of light within a narrow wavelength, and this wavelength is chosen based on skin type and the problem being treated. These treatments are also commonly referred to as photofacials and help to lighten or eliminate sun damage, brown spots, broken capillaries and rosacea. IPL also helps to reduce wrinkles by stimulating collagen and many people who have done these treatments report that their skin “glows” and tends to have a more radiant appearance. Aside from the face, other parts of the body can be treated such as the neck, chest, arms and hands.
The treatment is done in our office after an initial skin consultation and takes about 30 minutes. We will go over concerns that you may have about your complexion and we will answer any questions that you may have. Our new Icon laser has an advanced chiller on its tip so topical numbing is usually not needed. We use that tip to pre and post-chill the skin which most patients say feels good! Your eyes will be covered with protective eyewear while a conductive liquid is applied to your face. Some people describe the sensation as a mild “rubber band snapping” with minimal discomfort. Immediately after the treatment, the skin may appear slightly red or areas where there were brown spots will begin to darken. It takes about a week for the face to slough off the pigment that comes up with each treatment. Texturally, the skin does not feel rough or scabbed, only that the brown spots of concern will become darker before they get lighter. These spots are easy to cover up with makeup which can be applied immediately after the treatment and there is very minimal in any “down time”.
Typically people start with 3-5 treatments a month apart depending on what condition they would like to address and the severity of it. Although 3-5 treatments is recommended, patients usually see improvement after each one! After the desired appearance of the skin is reached, it is helpful to do a maintenance IPL a couple times a year to keep your skin looking great!
Often times patients will choose to optimize their results by incorporating a microplane facial or peel between IPL treatments (about 2 weeks after) which helps to gently exfoliate the skin, leading to a healthy, more youthful appearance. If you are looking for a noninvasive way with maximum results to improve the appearance of your skin, IPL may be a great option to rejuvenate your skin!
Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a more aggressive light-based treatment performed with a topical photosensitizing agent called Levulan (5-aminolevulinic acid or ALA). Levulan is a natural product that is activated or “turned on” by a specific wavelength of light. Levulan is placed on the skin of the face, neck , chest or hands and then is activated by our IPL( Intense Pulse Light) device. These treatments improve actinic keratoses or precancerous spots caused by sun exposure. ALA/PDT is easier than the typical treatment options for actinic keratoses such as topical liquid nitrogen or Efudex (5-FU) cream. It offers an effective treatment option with minimal side effects and downtime. Levulan also offers cosmetic benefits. Sun spots, uneven pigmentation, and early wrinkles are improved with the its use. In addition, these treatments can improve the appearance of acne and some acne scars.
Follow-up treatments can be done in the future to maintain the rejuvenated appearance of the skin. For more information on photodynamic therapy and how it can remove sun or age spots, contact our cosmetic surgery practice.
Why is skin revitalization the best for removing age spots and sun damage?
Skin revitalization is a non-surgical approach for treating age spots and sun damage, using powerful light-based technology to target unwanted pigment without harming surrounding skin. In just a few simple treatment sessions, pigment appears lighter and your skin looks clearer and younger. Skin revitalization is a great way to reduce the signs of aging on your hands and face.
How does skin revitalization work?
Skin revitalization treats age spots and sun damage by using an optimized light device to deliver light energy to your skin which is selectively absorbed by the unwanted pigment and then cleared away by your body.
What types of pigment can be treated?
Skin revitalization is appropriate for treating age spots, sun damage, and freckles on the face, neck, chest, arms, hands, legs, and feet. The Icon also treats unwanted facial vessels such as broken capillaries and rosacea.
Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
Skin revitalization works on a variety of skin types. Please contact us to set up a complimentary skin consultation to help you determine which treatments would be best to treat your skin concerns.
What kinds of results can I expect?
Patients generally see improvement after each treatment and we advise them to continue treatments until they are happy with the pigmentation of their skin. On average, most people do about 3-5 treatments and then a maintenance treatment every 3-6 months. Is is always best to catch the pigment when it first comes back and do one treatment after a series rather than waiting until it is “bad” again to start all over.
How long does it take?
The procedure can be performed in as little as 30 minutes or less, depending on the size of the treatment area.
Does it hurt?
Most people feel minimal discomfort during skin revitalization. In addition to our chill tip on the laser hand piece itself, we also offer topical numbing for any of our patients who desire it.
How many treatments will I need?
Multiple treatments may be needed; depending on the severity of your pigment, several treatments may be necessary to achieve the best results. After treatment, the pigment will temporarily darken (similar to coffee grounds in appearance yet there is no change in the actual texture of the skin) and then will slough away to reveal your clear skin.
How quickly will I recover?
Most people resume regular activities immediately following the treatment session.
See Intense Pulsed Light patient photos HERE.