If you’re looking for a way to rejuvenate your skin and return it to a more youthful tone and smoothness, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments are an excellent choice. An IPL treatment can be used on nearly any skin on the body, erasing the damage of sun and time with virtually no risk of side effects. At Advanced Life Clinic in Huntsville, AL, we offer IPL as one of several ways to restore your skin to youthful splendor.
IPL Treatment FAQ
How Many Treatments Are Needed?
For many people, this is the most important question of all. After all, treatments take time out of your day and cost money, so it only makes sense to search for the most cost-effective treatments that still provide lasting results.
Each of us has lived a unique life, and our skin comes along for the ride. The number of treatments you’ll need will depend on your skin type, what your skin has been through, and precisely what you hope to correct through IPL treatment. We can give you more details at your consultation, but in general, know that three to five treatments are necessary for most people to see the results they are looking for.
Why More Than One Treatment?
If you take a close look at the age spots and sunspots on your skin, you’ll notice they vary in color and intensity. Some are very dark, some are just a little dark, and some are barely darker than your normal skin tone. It is melanin that gives these spots their color, and the darker they are, the more melanin they contain.
An IPL device must be calibrated to treat a particular amount of melanin while ignoring the rest. If the machine wasn’t calibrated, it would treat all the skin, including smooth skin that doesn’t need treatment at all, resulting in unwanted effects. On the first treatment, the machine will be calibrated to target the darkest and deepest areas of pigmentation. This means it will not always catch the less prominent patches on the first patch.
After your first treatment, you’ll see those darkest spots fade. After a few weeks, the fading will stop and you’ll be ready for your next treatment, which will target the next level of pigmentation. By the end of three to five treatments, all your skin will be smooth, with a tone that you’ll remember well from your youth before sun exposure and age began to change things.
How Long Must I Wait Between Treatments?
It takes about 26 days for your skin cells to turn over. At that point, you’ll be able to see the full effects of the previous treatment and your skin will be normal, healthy, and ready for the next treatment. If you wait longer than three to four weeks, it becomes easy to forget about treatment. Then you won’t enjoy the full benefit of smooth, clear skin everywhere! If you have three to five treatments over the course of three to five months, you’ll come out on the other side with renewed, youthful skin you can enjoy for years.
Will the Results Last?
When you erase the brown and red spots that aging and sun exposure create, you are essentially setting your skin back to zero. Unfortunately, while it probably took you 20 to 30 years to get those spots initially, they tend to come back more quickly once we’re older. That’s because our bodies are no longer producing collagen at the rate they once did. Collagen repairs and strengthens the skin, so when we have less of it, we notice sun damage more quickly.
The good news is that once you get your skin where you want it to be with a series of initial treatments, you can follow this up with just a single, occasional treatment here and there to remove any sun damage that may accumulate over time. For many people, the best choice is to have a maintenance treatment once each winter to undo any marks that accumulate from a bit too much time enjoying the summer sun.
What Type of Marks Can IPL Treatment Address?
Our treatment can target both red and brown spots of the type normally called aging, liver, or sunspots. It can also improve the redness associated with rosacea or vascular issues.
Treating Brown Spots
Under our skin are special cells known as melanocytes. These have the power to change the pigmentation of our skin, and they do so in response to age and sun exposure. Whenever you get a tan, for example, your skin appears darker because your melanocytes have gone to work to protect you. Ironically, though some cultures see tanning as a sign of health, it’s actually a sign that your skin is being harmed! It should be noted that the tanning or spotting of a melanocyte response is an entirely different thing from the naturally darker skin pigmentation some people are born with. The first is a sign of unhealthy skin damage; the second is normal and natural.
IPL treats these unhealthy spots by heating up the darker pigment while leaving the rest of the skin alone. The darkened skin in these spots is then damaged and comes to the surface of the skin. There, the body’s natural process of cell turnover and exfoliation will remove them. It’s important to remember, however, that IPL only treats the skin. It does not damage the melanocytes underneath, nor would you want it to!
Treating Red Spots
Most red spots on our hands, neck, face, or chest are caused when tiny blood vessels become visible on the skin. They can appear because of genetics and aging, or they can be the result of excessive alcohol use or smoking. In some cases, they’re a reaction to too much sun exposure. Finally, they can also be caused by rosacea.
Whatever the reason for their appearance, IPL heats up the red blood cells in these blood vessels, which causes them to coagulate. Once the red blood cells coagulate, they can no longer flow. This creates a microscopic, and temporary, blood clot. Unlike a deep vein blood clot, these are not at all dangerous. Your body is very good at diverting microscopic clots to another blood vessel. When it does, those vessels close to your skin will not appear so red because their blood flow will have been diverted elsewhere.
What Else Can This Treatment Do?
You may be excited to learn that this treatment does more to restore your skin to a youthful look than simply removing some spots. It removes spots, yes, but in the process, it also tightens pores and skin. Some of the most unwanted marks of aging included expanded pore sizes and sagging skin! When your skin tightens, you’ll also notice any lines and wrinkles much less than you did before.
Since collagen is so important to our skin’s health and a youthful appearance, anything that boosts collagen production can only make things better. That’s the case with this treatment. The same light pulses that heat up and damage dark spots also signal to your body to send more collagen to the area, resulting in an overall improvement in your skin’s health.
Will This Treatment Hurt?
IPL treatments do not hurt at all. At most, you may feel a sensation of warmth, but this won’t be uncomfortable. There’s no downtime after this treatment, either, so you don’t need to arrange for someone to care for you or time off from work to be treated. While you should avoid heavy exercise or anything that will make you sweat excessively, you can return to your other regular activities immediately after treatment.
How Can I Know If This Treatment Is for Me?
Everyone’s skin is different, so we highly recommend you come visit us for a consultation. Dr. Hayley DeGraaff has been fully trained and certified on the use of the most advanced dermatological lasers and will be able to give you a clear answer about how much IPL can really do for you, whether you’re a good candidate, and how many treatments you’ll need to accomplish your goals.
There are a few medical conditions and medications that are contraindicated for this treatment. Be sure to talk to us if you’re interested in IPL treatment and you have:
- Cancer that isn’t in remission
- A current pregnancy (or are still breastfeeding)
- A recent severe sunburn
- A history of seizures
- A tendency to experience keloid scarring
- An active infection in the area to be treated
- An active prescription for diabetes medication
- An active prescription for any medications with a photosensitizing warning on the label
- A pacemaker
- Surgical pins or plates under the skin in an area you want treated
What Must I Do Before and After Treatment?
Before treatment, you just need to ensure the area is free of sunburn or suntan and that any skin conditions like eczema are cleared up. If you’re taking Accutane, you’ll need to stop for six months before treatment, and it’s important to avoid all medications and supplements that thin the blood, like aspirin, ibuprofen, or vitamin E, for a week before treatment.
After treatment, use sunscreen religiously and stay out of the sun entirely for the first two weeks. If possible, you should avoid using makeup for the first 24 hours. It’s also best to avoid any kind of strenuous activity that could work up a heavy sweat for 48 hours after treatment. Finally, take it easy on your skin by avoiding skincare products or exfoliators with acids and by moisturizing frequently.
Will This Treatment Completely Change My Looks?
As with all beauty treatments, it’s important to remember that your goal should be to become the very best version of yourself. You cannot become someone else through IPL or any other treatment. This treatment won’t change the way you look, but it will improve how you look by returning your skin to the smooth, clear state you enjoyed when you were younger.
Can I Get Other Treatments at the Same Time?
At Advanced Life Clinic, we offer a number of treatments to improve the state of your skin, including injectables, hair removal, chemical peels, and many more. Some treatments may complement your IPL photofacial, so be sure to talk with us at your consultation about your ultimate goals. We’ll help you choose the treatments that can get you there.
Get Back the Skin You’ve Always Had
If you’re ready to have healthier, younger-looking skin, visit us at Advanced Life Clinic in Huntsville, AL today. Our goal is to help you achieve your goal, and the sooner you get started, the more time you’ll have to enjoy your fabulous new look.