What is Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)?

Now that the June gloom skies of grey have returned to San Francisco, it’s time to consider treatments for your skin that require you to stay out of the sun. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments are ideal for this time of year.

IPL treatments rejuvenate the skin and even out skin tone. IPL, also known as Photofacial, is a light-based treatment to target unwanted red and brown discoloration in the skin. The IPL wavelength is absorbed by unwanted spots, which breaks up the pigment. These fragmented pigments are either absorbed back into the body or flake off after a few days.

IPL can be used for sun damage, brown spots, freckles, facial flushing, vessels and rosacea. Because it has been shown to stimulate collagen and improve pore size, it is also used to rejuvenate the skin. The sensation of an IPL treatment is described as the “snap of a rubber band”, which can be a little startling. Three to five treatments are typically recommended at intervals of one month apart. It is important to stay out of the sun and refrain from using tanning creams during your IPL treatments. Fair skin types are the best candidates for IPL.

Before Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and Laser Treatments:

Avoid sun exposure, tanning, and self-tanning creams or sprays for four weeks prior to treatment.
Discontinue use of all retinoid, glycolic acid, alpha-hydroxy acid and exfoliation products for one week prior to treatment.
If you have a history of oral herpes or cold sores, notify your provider to obtain a prescription of Valtrex for use before and after treatment.

After Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and Laser Treatments:

Side effects are generally minimal, with no downtime after treatments. You may return to work the same day and resume your regular activities.
Redness or flushing may occur and usually subsides within a few hours.
Brown spots may turn darker for a few days before flaking off or lightening.
Refrain from using any active products such as acids, antioxidants or retinoids for one week.
Cleanse the area with a gentle cleanser and softly pat dry. Apply a soothing moisturizer.
Use SPF 30 daily to protect the treated area from sun exposure and the development of more brown spots and sun damage. Tanning after treatment sessions is not recommended since it may result in hyper-pigmentation.
Makeup may be applied immediately post-treatment. Mineral makeup such as Jane Iredale is preferred and provides additional sunscreen.

Contact the Skin Center at 415-831-2171 with any questions or to set up a complimentary consultation to find out if you’re a good candidate for IPL treatments.

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