With one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world, Australians have good reason to be wary of the way light impacts the skin. But as fans of Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) will tell you, not all light waves are created equal.
Also known as photorejuvenation or a photofacial, IPL is a light-based therapy that can be customised to target a range of skin conditions. It is a non-invasive procedure that can help improve the appearance of superficial pigmentation, red skin blotches and birthmarks; even out the skin tone; stimulate collagen production; and reduce pore size. The versatile nature of IPL makes it a skin revitalisation all-rounder, ideal for treating mild to moderate sun damage and refreshing lacklustre complexions. In our clinic, we use the elos platform, which combines these benefits with those of radio frequency (RF) to even out skin tone and calm rosacea.
IPL devices produce a broad spectrum of light in a range of wavelengths that target either melanin or haemoglobin in the skin. The emitted light is adjustable through the use of filters, allowing treatments to be modified according to each patient’s skin type, target condition and the location of the treatment area.
IPL and laser technologies are commonly confused. While both systems aim to heat the target tissue to a temperature high enough to destroy it without damaging the normal adjacent tissue, lasers work with a single frequency of light and IPL employs multiple wavelengths.
Prior to undergoing IPL, you should have a consultation with your doctor to discuss your goals and suitability for the treatment. IPL candidates typically undergo two to five treatments spaced two weeks apart. These sessions are performed by a registered nurse.
Half an hour prior to treatment, a topical local anaesthetic cream is applied to help reduce the sensation of heat that is felt during the procedure. A machine that blows refrigerated air may also be employed during the procedure to assist with patient comfort. That said, most patients tolerate the treatment extremely well.
Because IPL treatments target the deeper layers of the skin, they may be safely performed in conjunction with other, more superficial procedures. IPL can be combined with chemical peels, microdermabrasion and other facial treatments that target the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin. One key advantage of IPL – and in particular the combination of IPL and RF with the elos platform – over more invasive facial rejuvenation procedures is that it requires little to no downtime. While some swelling, redness or facial flushing may appear immediately after treatment, it is usually minor and tends to subside in the hours or days that follow.