Things to know about light-based therapy – non-laser treatments
Light-based therapies have been a widely accepted and reliable method for reducing the appearance of spider veins and facial redness,the treatment of photodamaged skin, lightening brown spots, diminishing certain blemishes, freckles and wrinkles, and clearing up acne.
How does it work?
The most common are Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), Broad Band Light (BBL) and Light Emitting Diode (LED). Each devise delivers thermal energy to a target in the skin. The target can be pigment (brown and age spots), redness of blood vessels (broken capillaries, spider veins and facial redness) and even the bacteria causing acne.
The heat energy hits the target, is absorbed and damages the target tissue, destroying and eliminating it from the skin. The healing response begins, producing healthy collagen and elastin, and the skin is restored to its healthy and natural condition. Results vary by devise and condition of the skin.
How are laser treatments different?
Both technologies help to reduce the appearance of some of the most common skin concerns including brown spots, broken capillaries and sunspots, although, laser has been shown to be more effective treating photoaged skin.
A laser generates one wavelength of light whereas IPL releases light at multiple wavelengths like a photo flash. The light from IPL is more scattered and less focused than laser, potentially affecting the surrounding tissue and melanin. IPL penetrates to the lower layers of the skin to create a thermal reaction. The pigments absorb the light and the heat then destroys the unwanted pigment.
What are the risks?
With any kind of photo rejuvenation treatment there are risks and considerations. Not everyone is a good candidate for IPL especially for someone with darker skin, or people with certain skin conditions such as Vitiligo as it may cause the skin to hypo-pigment (get lighter) or hyper-pigment (get darker). For someone with Melasma, this type of treatment is not recommended. In fact, melasma could be worsened by the thermal response in the surrounding tissue and melanin which can stimulate and increase the appearance of the darkened pigmentation
IPL is not as effective and potentially harmful to darker skin types or on tanned skin. It's important that before having a treatment you be out of the sun for a minimum of four weeks prior to the treatment, and after treatment as well. Effectively, if you are considering a treatment series you should commit to protecting yourself from the sun, which includes daily sunscreen of an SPF (minimum 50), wearing protection such as a large brimmed hat, and generally just staying out of the sun.
There is a slight bit of discomfort with the treatment. A mild anesthetic or topical anesthetic can minimize the discomfort. Generally, there is very little downtime and few side effects associated with IPL.
How effective is IPL?
IPL is good choice for getting plumper, younger-looking skin, faded brown spots, fewer capillaries and less overall skin redness. IPL usually requires several sessions with time to heal in between. The number of sessions you need varies depending upon the condition you're treating, the result you want, and how your skin responds.
IPL is one of the most effective treatments for the symptoms of rosacea. In most cases removing the redness or lightning redness and capillary issues can be treated effectively within three to four treatments.
When can I expect to see results?
After a treatment session, the treated area may appear slightly red, swollen and puffy. Depending upon the reason for the treatment, you may see changes immediately. For example, what appears to be coffee grounds sprinkled across your skin in the pigmented (sun damaged) areas, is the pigment being affected. Within a few days to a week, these brown specks will eventually flake off revealing a much lighter brighter and more even skin tone.
Most individualized treatment plans require anywhere from 3 to 5 treatments at 4-week intervals. You will typically begin to see gradual and cumulative results in as few as two treatments. The total number of required treatment sessions really depends on your skin's condition, and what you wish to treat.
How long will the results last?
Results will depend largely on the types of skin condition you are treating, as well as how large of an area, or how many areas you wish to improve. IPL does a wonderful job clearing the redness and flushing associated with rosacea, broken capillaries and spider veins. It also reduces the appearance of brown spots but may not be as effective on severe sun damage or photoaged skin. However, the procedure does not stop the skin from aging so it's possible that new blemishes will appear over time, especially with increased sun exposure.
After completing the series of 3 to 5 treatments (based on your treatment plan), a booster treatment is recommended every six to eight months as a great maintenance strategy along with a brightening home-care regimen.
IPL at youbaby
Our go-to device for IPL is FotoFacial© by Candela/Syneron. Uniquely it combines pulsed light optical energy (visible and near infrared range) and radio frequency (RF) energy to deliver a thermal reaction to the skin that not only destroys the target it seeks, but also creates a tightening effect in the deeper layers of the skin. This two-in-one action makes FotoFacial© a great choice for treating a variety of skin concerns. At youbaby Skin Spa, a single FotoFacial© treatment for the face will cost $295 or you can get a series of three treatments for $850.