William Callaghan. MD (intense-pulsed-light Surgery)
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
Intense pulsed light (IPL) is the use of intense pulses of non-coherent light over a range of wavelengths from 500 nm to 1200 nm. Xenon flashlamps produce high output bursts of broad spectrum. Cooling is used to protect the skin in contact with the device.
IPL can diminish or remove: Age spots, liver spots, facial flushing, redness, broken capillaries, telangiectasias (purple or blue veins on the face, also called spider veins), and rosacia.
This therapy is based on high-intensity pulses of light that penetrate the skin. There are several different machines that emit different wavelengths of IPL to penetrate different distances into the skin.
Different wavelengths treat different skin conditions. To remove body hair permanently or almost permanently, for example, IPL zeros in on the hair follicles and kills them. However, hair grows in cycles and some follicles are lying dormant. Light therapy must hit the hair follicle during its growing phase to work properly.
A patient is not a good candidate for IPL therapy if they are prone to developing red, raised keloid scars or other forms of excess scarring, hyperpigmentation, or hypopigmentation. Also, one is not a good candidate for intense pulsed light therapy if one does not react well to burns or if you have diabetes, as this disease may affect your body's wound-healing ability.
Sometimes a patient requires a patch test to see how you react to IPL. After this test, you have to watch the test area for several days for any reactions such as blistering, pigmentation problems, rashes, or persistent redness. Report any problems to the doctor's office or skin clinic.
If you are deemed an appropriate candidate, your doctor will devise an individualized IPL treatment plan. You will be instructed on what (and what not) to do for the two weeks before your first treatment. This will likely include staying out of the sun and avoiding certain medications that may increase bleeding risk, such as aspirin and ibuprofen.