There are two basic types of freckles: simple freckles and sunburn freckles. Simple freckles are usually tan colored, round, and small Sunburn freckles are often darker, have irregular jagged borders, and may be larger (more than 5mm in diameter). Sunburn freckles are more common on the upper back and shoulders where people frequently get their most severe sunburns.
For some, freckles are considered to be cute angel kisses, however for those who find them a nuisance Intense Pulse Light (IPL) treatment is extremely effective. IPL treatment removes the discoloration caused by the freckles without harming the surrounding skin. It generally takes several treatments for the freckles to be completely removed but fortunately, it is possible to resume normal activity immediately after treatment as the procedure is non-invasive.
What Is IPL™ Photofacial/Fotofacial?
A photofacial, or “fotofacial,” is a 30-minute procedure in which intense pulses of light are used to penetrate deep into the skin. IPL™ photorejuvenation then causes collagen and blood vessels below the epidermis to constrict, reducing redness and age lines. The procedure involves only minimal discomfort, while the redness and swelling that sometimes occur after treatment disappear shortly. Most benefits of a photofacial/fotofacial occur gradually in the weeks following treatment. For even greater cosmetic enhancement, patients may also opt for a FotoFacial RF™, a procedure that combines radio waves with light waves to achieve excellent results.
People who have blotchy, sun-damaged, or discolored skin, or whose skin is affected by large pores, freckles, or wrinkles, may benefit from an IPLTM photofacial. The procedure is also quick and involves no downtime, making it a convenient option for people with busy schedules.Those with dark or deeply tanned skin sometimes experience complications following IPLTM photofacial treatment. Patients should discuss such issues with a trained dermatologist before undergoing treatment.
Who Is Not a Good Candidate for Intense Pulsed Light Treatment?
People with tanned or naturally dark skin sometimes experience changes in skin pigmentation after IPLTMphotofacial treatment. African-Americans and people of Greek and Italian descent, for example, may wish to discuss possible side effects with a dermatologist before opting for this procedure. Additionally, people who are taking the medication Accutane® should not have an IPLTM photofacial until at least six months after they stop using the drug. Pregnant women should also postpone treatment until after they give birth.
IPLTM Photorejuvenation vs. PDT (Photodynamic Therapy)
An IPLTM photofacial can be an effective way to eliminate many cosmetic issues, including moderate acne scars and rosacea. When such factors are particularly severe, however, photodynamic therapy (PDT) may be a better option. While this procedure is slightly more invasive than an IPLTM photofacial, it often provides better treatment for pronounced redness in the face as well as deeper scarring caused by acne. Like an IPLTM photofacial, PDT also encourages the production of new collagen, reducing fine lines and improving skin tone. Speaking to a cosmetic dermatologist is the best way to determine if PDT is right for you.
IPLTM Photofacial vs. Laser Skin Resurfacing
The IPLTM photofacial is an effective way to minimize the aesthetic impact of enlarged pores, light wrinkles, and moderate sun damage. Because it is non-invasive, it allows doctors to make cosmetic improvements quickly, conveniently, and with very little risk or discomfort. Laser skin resurfacing, on the other hand, is used to deal with more serious skin problems, such as deep wrinkles, serious sun damage, and severe acne scarring. In evaluating the benefits of an IPLTM photofacial vs. laser skin resurfacing, there are a few differences patients should be aware of.
To begin with, the IPLTM photofacial is nonablative, meaning no skin is removed during the procedure. In laser skin resurfacing, on the other hand, doctors treat wrinkles, skin discolorations, and other blemishes by removing extremely fine layers of skin with a laser. Because laser skin resurfacing is more invasive, it involves a longer recovery period than the IPLTM photofacial (which has no downtime) as well as a greater risk of complications. For many people, the often dramatic results achieved compensate for any negative factors associated with the procedure. If you are not sure whether a photofacial or laser skin resurfacing would be more appropriate for you, speaking to a dermatologist can help.
While IPL™ photorejuvenation is generally more costly than procedures like microdermabrasion and chemical peels, it is less expensive than most cosmetic surgery and laser skin treatment. Still, the price for a single photofacial/fotofacial session can be as high as $500 or $600. The overall cost of photorejuvenation treatment will depend on the severity of the aesthetic issues involved as well as the number of treatments needed to resolve them.
How IPL™ Photorejuvenation Works
During IPL™ photorejuvenation treatment, high energy light waves are used to reduce or eliminate many common effects of aging, including facial wrinkles and skin discolorations. IPL™ light also encourages the production of collagen, a natural protein that fills in wrinkles, making the skin smooth and supple. With each treatment, the results of IPL™ photorejuvenation become more pronounced. Five full-face IPL™ photofacial/fotofacial sessions spaced three weeks apart are normally required for optimal results.
The recovery time from an IPLTM skin procedure is often very short, as there is very little damage done to the skin during treatment. Depending on the skin malady you are seeking to remedy as well as your skin type, the redness that is present following the procedure may persist for a longer or shorter period of time. The side effects of IPLTM photofacial treatment dissipate within a few hours for many patients. For some patients, however, the redness or dark spots may take a week to fade. Patients treated for severe acne sometimes experience longer recovery times, though they are often amazed by the results when the side effects wear off.
The most important things to remember following IPLTM photofacial treatment are to avoid the sun for several days and to wear plenty of sunblock for at least two weeks. Intense pulsed light therapy can give you excellent results for a year or more, but you must take care to ensure your skin is protected for the first few weeks after treatment.
Follow-Up IPLTM Treatments
Often, multiple IPLTM photofacial treatments are necessary to achieve maximum results. Especially if you are seeking to remedy multiple problems - for instance, if you are seeking to improve skin texture and reduce redness - multiple treatments affecting different layers of the skin will likely be needed. Your skin care specialist can help you find out how many IPLTM photofacial treatments you may need to achieve your cosmetic goals.
IPL™ Photofacial FAQs
The answers to these frequently asked questions will help you to better understand the photofacial procedure. As always, there is no substitute for a one-on-one consultation with a qualified doctor who can provide you with answers to your specific questions.
Are there side effects associated with IPLTM photorejuvenation?
Most reported side effects of IPLTM photorejuvenation are mild and resolve themselves within a few hours or days of treatment. The most common side effect is facial redness or flushing. Small capillaries may appear larger immediately following treatment as well - but don't worry; this is common and will fade quickly. In rarer instances, mild bruising and swelling may occur, but this too will go away within a day or so. Permanent side effects from photorejuvenation are extremely rare. Learn more about the risks of intense pulsed light therapy.
What are the advantages of IPLTM photorejuvenation vs. laser treatment?
One of the greatest benefits of IPLTM photorejuvenation is that it can treat a wide range of skin problems. With IPLTM therapy, patients can undergo a single type of treatment for multiple skin conditions, rather than having to undergo several procedures, such as laser skin tightening and laser skin resurfacing. IPLTMphotorejuvenation is usually less expensive than laser treatment as well. Perhaps the greatest benefit of the procedure, however, is that it is associated with a smaller risk of burns and scarring than laser treatment.