About IPL Photofacials
What is a Photofacial?
Exposure to airborne pollutants and sun radiation combined with the natural aging process create fine lines, wrinkles, and changes in texture and color of your skin. Photofacials, also sometimes called fotofacials or skin rejuvenation, refers to a skin treatment that uses pulses of light to penetrate deep into your skin to reveal brighter, younger and healthier-looking skin.
What is IPL and how does it work?
IPL is an intense, pulsed low-fluence (or density) light used in a non-abrasive way to rejuvenate your skin. During the treatment, light pulses are directed evenly over your skin. The light passes through the epidermis and penetrates deeper into the dermis where the pulsed light energy is absorbed by the pigment in sunspots and the blood in visible vessels, and is converted to heat.
The cells that contain the pigment (e.g. sun-damaged skin, pigmentation abnormalities, freckles, broken capillaries, and rosacea) are consequently destroyed by the heat. Since your body is in a constant state of repair, your skin will push out the destroyed cells and bring them up to the surface of your skin. This is why after your Photofacial treatment; you will notice an increase in dark spots and pigmentation on the surface of your skin. As your skin goes through the process of reproducing new healthy cells, the destroyed cells will naturally flake off and reveal fresh skin.
In addition to IPL Photofacials treating pigmentation, broken capillaries, and rosacea, the heat from the treatment also stimulates cells called fibroblasts to produce fresh collagen. Over several treatments, this new collagen smooths and softens the appearance of textural irregularities, wrinkles and pores.
What light system does Elude use for IPL Photofacials?
Our practice has the leading edge broad spectrum light technology for IPL Photofacial treatments. The Harmony™ XL with Advanced Fluorescence Technology (AFT) Laser/Light system is one of the best innovations in skin technology for “no-downtime” cosmetic skin improvement.
The Harmony™ XL System delivers unique flashes of light to the skin. The clear, rectangular tip of the hand-piece creates a warm flash of bright light energy. This bright light is scientifically tailored to cause the destruction of unsightly broken capillaries, unwanted infiltrates, like certain bacteria and microorganisms, and damaged cells that signal sun damage. This destruction is relatively easy to accomplish with the right type of light, is extremely safe, and normal skin is not affected.
The light heats the epidermis less than older technologies but enough to activate the skin’s fibroblasts to grow extra collagen, the wrinkle-filling material. The light from the Harmony™ XL will reduce unwanted redness, brownness and acne, and bring a younger appearance to the skin.
Is it safe?
Yes. The Harmony™ XL system has been cleared by the FDA for more than 60 aesthetic and medical applications, including the IPL Photofacial. An IPL Photofacial with the Harmony™ XL system is a non-invasive treatment that gradually rejuvenates the treated area without causing any damage to the surrounding skin.
Who can get a Photofacial?
Almost everyone can enjoy the benefits from a Photofacial; however, treatments are most effective on patients with light skin who are not sun-tanned at the time of the treatment. The lighter your skin, the more pronounced the contrast between the age spots or blood vessels and the skin, making treatment easier.
A Photofacial treatment on African Americans or people with dark skin is not recommended for this treatment.
Additionally, if you regularly tan, you should discontinue all tanning activities for at least 4 weeks prior to treatment to avoid any skin pigmentation that may take months to fade. If you are pregnant, breast feeding or have taken Accutane within the past 6 months you should not receive a laser treatment.
Certain oral and topical medications, such as Tetracycline, and Retin-A, may cause photosensitivity or photoallergic reactions if used before laser treatments. These medications must be discontinued at least 2 weeks prior to treatment. To review a list of medications that may cause photosensitivity, click here.
As always, it is important to strictly follow all pre and post-treatment guidelines to ensure that you receive optimal results from your laser treatments.
What areas can be treated?
Although the majority of patients get Photofacial treatments on the face, Photofacials can be performed on any part of the body, including the neck, upper chest, décolletage, and hands.
Why do I need several Photofacial treatments?
IPL Photofacials remove freckles, sunspots, rosacea, and vessels by destroying your damaged cells and bringing them up to the surface of your skin, where your body will naturally flake them off. In some cases, the damaged cell is located deep within your dermis and therefore may not completely rise to your skin’s surface after just one treatment. During each subsequent Photofacial treatment, the damaged cell will continue to rise higher and higher into your epidermis, until it has successfully surfaced and flaked off. Additionally, some damaged cells that are severely pigmented will require several treatments to be fully destroyed.
How many Photofacial treatments will I need?
For optimal results, 3-6 treatments will be typically required to achieve complete clearance of freckles, sunspots, rosacea and vessels; however, you will see a visible improvement in the appearance and texture of the skin after each treatment.
Are the results from a Photofacial permanent?
A Photofacial will successfully treat the current pigmentation and broken capillaries in your skin, however, it will not prevent future damage from developing in your skin. Similarly, if you suffer from chronic redness or rosacea, the Photofacial treatment will treat your current redness but it will not prevent any future triggers from causing new Rosacea occurrences.
After you have completed your Photofacial treatment series, you can expect your skin to have an overall healthy glow (resulting from the treatment stimulating damaged cell turnover and increasing production of new collagen). Depending on the number of treatments you have, your glowing skin should last between 4-6 months. We recommend an annual or bi-annual Photofacial to maintain your radiant appearance and healthy glow.
What should I do to prepare for my Photofacial treatment?
Please review the pre-treatment guidelines below for a complete list of recommended preparations for your Photofacial treatment.
What should I expect during my complimentary consultation?
Prior to any Photofacial, you will receive a consultation to assess your treatment goals, answer all of your questions and determine if you can successfully be treated with an IPL Photofacial treatment. For your convenience, we can perform your complimentary consultation and Photofacial during the same appointment. For your first appointment allow 1 hour that will include the consultation and treatment.
While new technology has enabled us to safely treat darker skin there is an increased risk of skin pigmentation, meaning that your skin may become lighter or darker after treatment. During your consultation, we will assess if you are at an increased risk for any skin pigmentation changes. If so, we may recommend a pre-treat regimen of a skin lightening cream to prevent and minimize the risk of pigmentation.
What should I expect during my Photofacial treatment?
Just before your treatment, the technician will provide you with protective eyewear and apply a cool gel to the area to be treated. If this is your first photofacial, the technician will perform a test patch to determine the appropriate IPL settings for your skin type.
After the IPL settings have been customized for your skin type, the technician will perform the Photofacial using the specialized IPL hand-piece. The hand-piece will be gently placed over a small section of the treatment area, and an intense light, or pulse, will be flashed through the hand-piece. The technician will continue to pass the hand-piece over small sections of your skin until the desired area has been treated in its entirety.
During the Photofacial, the IPL hand-piece delivers a quick pulse of an intense light to your skin, which is best described as feeling like a rubber band snap. Most patients find that they can easily tolerate the treatment without much complaint.
How long does a Photofacial treatment take?
A Photofacial treatment typically takes between 20-30 minutes, but if it is your first Photofacial with us, we schedule new patients for a 1 hour appointment, which includes your complimentary consultation, test patch and Photofacial treatment.
What should I expect after a Photofacial treatment?
An IPL Photofacial is a non-invasive treatment with no physical downtown and you can resume normal activities immediately.
After your Photofacial, you can expect a mild sun burn like sensation that may last for 24 hours. Any areas of broken capillaries or spider veins may stay red for longer.
Over the next few days, freckles, age and sun spots will darken initially and then gradually lighten. This is a normal reaction and signifies that the light energy from the treatment was appropriately absorbed by your pigmented skin. The cells that contain the pigment are destroyed and rise to the surface as your skin reproduces. They then slough off (very light flaking ) within 72 hours to 1 week. After each Photofacial treatment, you will notice that the initial phase of darkening pigmentation becomes shorter and that the spots don’t darken as much.
While Photofacials are considered one of the safest in the cosmetic medical technology industry, you may also experience post-treatment skin sensitivity. The “freshly” exposed healthy skin cells are substantially more sensitive to environmental factors, especially the sun. UV rays are far more harmful to the fresh skin, leaving it highly prone to sun damage. To minimize the risk of damaging your new fresh skin, you should apply high-strength SPF protection on even the rainiest of post-treatment days. Although it is rare, patients may still experience side effects of hair loss, itchiness, redness, and, at worst, a stinging sensation in the skin.
- (Men) Shave any present hair from the area being treated on the day of or the day before treatment.
- As always, you should protect your skin with sunscreen at least 50 SPF or higher.
- Do not tan the area to be treated for at least 4 weeks prior to your treatment.
- Discontinue the use of self-tanners at least 2 weeks prior to treatment.
- Stop all Retin-A, Retinal, Renova, glycolics, and exfoliants 2 weeks prior to treatment.
- If you have a history of oral herpes, you may want to pre-treat with an anti-viral 3 days prior to treatment.
- Darker skin pigments may not be good candidates for this treament.
- Wash the area to be treated, making sure to remove makeup, creams and lotions. Do not apply any creams, lotions, or other products to the areas being treated.
Avoid direct sun exposure and tanning beds throughout and 1-2 months after your course of treatments. Use sunscreen SPF 50 or higher at all times throughout the treatment when going outside.
Treat your skin gently – do not scrub, scratch or pick at the treated area.
When washing the treated area, use a gentle, mild soap and tepid water for the next 2-3 days. Do not use a washcloth or loofah on the treated area and pat skin dry.
Mineral makeup may be applied immediately after facial treatments unless blistering develops. Since the skin is sensitive during this period, take special care while removing makeup to avoid damaging the skin and risking infection. Shaving may be resumed 24 hours after treatment.
Do not use any irritants such as Retin-A, Benzoyl Peroxide or astringents for at least 72 hours after your treatment. Avoid microdermabrasion and chemical peels at least one week after treatment. Apply aloe vera or hydrocortisone cream to treatment areas to ease temporary discomfort. Ice packs may also be used if swelling occurs.
If light scabbing or crusting occurs, apply a topical antibiotic ointment, such as Bacitracin or Neosporin as directed. If you experience increased pain, textural changes (blistering or fluid erupts), or if your skin becomes tender to touch, call immediately for further instructions.
Treatment Follow Up Instructions:
Schedule your series of follow- up Photofacial treatments every 3-4 weeks. Then as needed for maintenance.