Intense Pulsed Light is a technology where light is converted into heat energy.
Treatments are like a very powerful camera flash lamp being held against your skin.
The selected light waves target chromophores (colour pigments) such as melanin in brown spots and freckles; and such as haemoglobin in broken or diffused blood vessels. The light waves can also target specific protein molecules in acne bacteria and in collagen. IPL treats all conditions without disruption to the skin’s surface.
Lasers have been used in surgery for years. The IPL is an adaptation of the laser, more suited to the beauty industry. The biggest difference between laser and IPL, as far as treatment is concerned, is the coverage. The laser beam is very narrow, only covering a small spot at a time, while IPL coverage is several times the area, and therefore treatments are much quicker. The surface area of the Chromolite IPL applicator head is 7.5 square cm – one of the largest on the market.
Lasers produce light from one specific wavelength, or colour, for a very specific target. The light emitted from the IPL is composed of a spectrum of colours from different wavelengths, enabling selective photo-absorption (light absorption) to different targets. In other words, using the IPL is like using a group of lasers in a single treatment.
Intense Pulsed Light targets the colour pigment (melanin) in the hairs. Therefore white hairs can not be treated. Dark hairs on fair skin have the best and quickest results. Fair hairs will require extra treatments with lesser results. Caution is required when treating hairs on darker skins; this is explained below and would be discussed more fully during your consultation.
The hair growth cycle:
Hairs grow in constant cycles: Firstly hairs are actively growing, then they become dormant (resting), and finally they loosen and shed, only to be replaced by more new, actively growing hairs.
Only hair follicles in the active growth stage are disabled by IPL treatments.
Hairs in the dormant stage of the growth cycle normally remain anchored in the follicles for weeks or months, depending on their location, but their follicles and associated hair germination cells are not disabled by IPL treatments. These follicles will be treated in subsequent sessions. This is why you need repeated sessions. Hair growth becomes sparser with each session. All treated hairs should shed within about two weeks.
A course of 5 to 10 treatments is usually required to treat hairs at all stages of the hair growth cycle, at 3 to 6 week intervals; which varies depending on hair type and colour, and the location being treated. Fair hairs will require extra treatments. White hairs can not be treated.
A maintenance session may be necessary from time to time, due to the development of new hair growth appearing, as our hormonal balance continues to change with age, or due to the influence of stress, illness, disease and drugs i.e; steroids or contraceptive pills.
Your first appointment will be a comprehensive consultation to answer all your questions and to check that there are no contra-indications to IPL treatments, such as medications which cause photo-sensitivity, and to ascertain the degree of recent sun or UV exposure on the area to be treated. The colour of your skin and the condition to be treated must be assessed, then a calculation is made to determine the appropriate setting.
It is very important to be honest about medications and your recent sun or UV exposure. Clients with photo-sensitivity problems may develop some adverse reactions such as blistering or mild burning sensations. Your first test patch flash will be set on a low setting in order to avoid this. The setting may be raised if appropriate.
The treatment area is re-assessed, wiped with a mild antiseptic lotion to remove all traces of oils, etc., and ultrasound gel is then applied. Both the operator and the client will wear glasses to protect their eyes from the bright flashes of light, then treatment may commence. The flash light lamp at the head of the hand piece is held against the client’s skin and the intense light is pulsed at the trigger of a button. The lamp is moved to cover the entire area, with a minimum of 2 seconds between each flash. Once the treatment is completed the gel will be wiped off and a cooling gel will be applied, plus sun block where appropriate.
If your appointment is for hair removal; in areas of course hair growth the treatment area is obvious, but sometimes it is not so obvious, so it is therefore appropriate to allow the hairs to grow just a little, so that the operator may clearly see the area needing treatment. This area will then need to be shaved before your IPL treatment begins, because it is imperative that the light is targeted down the hair shaft to the bulb. We don’t want to treat (and heat) hairs on the skin’s surface. Where the treatment area is obvious, you may shave the hair yourself before you arrive for your appointment.
Some treatments have little or no sensation at all, but for other treatments, clients may feel a slight sting, similar to the flick of a rubber band against your skin. It is certainly not unbearable, and we can always reduce the intensity if you feel the need. Immediately after some treatments you may feel a mild heat for a few minutes, or a couple of hours, but after most treatments you will feel next to nothing at all.