Are summers past showing on your face? Tired of age spots, redness, broken capillaries, and sun damage? If you are looking for an affordable solution without lengthy down time, Intense Pulsed Light therapy could be the answer.
Intense Pulse Light (IPL), also called Broad Banned Light (BBL), utilizes broad-spectrum light that filters out unwanted wavelengths as a means of treating a number of skin conditions. It differs from laser treatments in that it allows for multiple wavelengths of light, making it ideal for treating several different skin problems, while lasers use one continuous light wavelength.
Well-Being interviewed Dr. Randy Jordan, a Facial Plastic Surgeon who is also Vice Chairman and Medical Director of the Otolaryngology Department at the University of Mississippi Medical Center about conditions IPL can be used to treat and who makes a good candidate for this type of cosmetic therapy.
“Intense Pulsed Light is not a new technology. It has evolved over the years to be used primarily to treat discolorations of the skin such as age or liver spots, the redness of rosacea or small broken blood vessels,” Dr. Jordan explains. “It is a much less intrusive treatment than a laser and requires virtually no downtime.”
During an IPL treatment light energy is sent through the outer skin or epidermis and is concentrated on the dermis, the deeper part of the skin. It attacks the problem from the inside, and leaves the outer skin intact, so there is no blistering, burning or redness of the skin as with chemical peels, dermabrasion or laser treatments. The light is focused through a hand piece that cools the skin to prevent skin damage.
“IPL treatments cause only minor discomfort during the treatment,” Jordan continues. “There is a very intense flash of light and it feels like someone is popping you with a rubber band. A numbing cream can be used prior to treatment for patients with sensitive skin. Once the treatment is over, the discomfort ends.”
IPL works best on people who have not recently tanned and who have lighter skin (type 1-3). Anyone considering the procedure should limit direct sun exposure for a while prior to a treatment. For this reason, late fall and winter are good times to have IPL therapy.
“A treatment generally takes from 10 – 15 minutes, depending on the size of the area treated,” notes Jordan. “Age spots and sun damage can take one treatment, but redness sometimes requires two or more treatments a month to six weeks apart. A one-time full-face treatment costs around $300 to $500, but prices vary in different parts of the country. Because IPL is considered an elective cosmetic procedure it is not covered by health insurance.”
“The State of Mississippi requires that IPL and laser treatments be performed under the supervision of a physician who is on site. In our practice a nurse with special training carries out the treatment plan the doctor has developed,” Jordan adds. “It is very important that eyes are protected from the intense light to prevent damage. A metal shield should be placed over the eyes before the treatment begins.”
“It is important that a person considering any kind of cosmetic procedure have realistic expectations about the results. IPL is not a permanent solution to skin discoloration, and patients should understand they will need annual repeat treatments. But IPL is a good relatively affordable, non-invasive solution for people looking to improve their appearance without a lengthy recuperation period,” Jordan concludes.
J. Randall Jordan, M.D., FACS, earned a Doctor of Medicine degree and served residencies in General Surgery and Otolaryngology at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville. He completed his fellowship training in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at McCollough Aesthetic Medical Center in Birmingham, AL and a preceptorship in Micrographic Surgery and Cutaneous Oncology at the University of Florida Department of Otolaryngology. He is Board Certified in Otolaryngology and Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.