Say goodbye to the effects of sun damage, rosacea, hyperpigmentation, and more. With the innovative Intense Pulsed Light (IPL™) photofacial/ fotofacial procedure, gentle skin rejuvenation is now easier than ever. IPL™ photorejuvenation is the latest in modern dermatology, allowing patients to transform red, blotchy skin into a radiant complexion. If you suffer from any of these problems, photofacial/fotofacial treatments may be the dermatological approach you've been looking for.
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 IPL™ 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 IPL™ photofacial treatment. Patients should discuss such issues with a trained dermatologist before undergoing treatment.
Ideal IPL™ Photofacial Candidates
People with white, untanned skin that is still somewhat elastic are the best candidates for an IPL™ photofacial. It is also important for patients to have a realistic understanding about what the procedure can do. When performed on the right person, it effectively improves skin texture, eliminating discolorations, reducing pore size, and minimizing wrinkles and fine lines. If you have rosacea, a condition that causes blotchy redness in the face, you may also benefit from an IPL™ photofacial. For more serious issues - heavy facial lines and severe acne scars, for example - patients may wish to consider more aggressive treatment, such as a face lift or a brow lift.
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 IPL™ photofacial 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 IPL™ photofacial until at least six months after they stop using the drug. Pregnant women should also postpone treatment until after they give birth.
IPL™ Photorejuvenation vs. PDT (Photodynamic Therapy)
An IPL™ 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 IPL™ photofacial, it often provides better treatment for pronounced redness in the face as well as deeper scarring caused by acne. Like an IPL™ 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.
IPL™ Photofacial vs. Laser Skin Resurfacing
The IPL™ 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 IPL™ photofacial vs. laser skin resurfacing, there are a few differences patients should be aware of.
To begin with, the IPL™ 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 IPL™ 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.
What to Expect During Treatment
Before the procedure begins, you will be given protective eyewear to protect you from the bright flashes of light. A cool gel is often applied to the treatment area, both to lubricate the handpiece and to help cool the epidermis during the treatment. Your skin care specialist will apply brief pulses of bright light to the skin through the handpiece. Depending on the size of the area being treated, the procedure may take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour.
During the IPL™ photofacial procedure, you will feel a warm sensation caused by the handpiece. Some patients liken the sensation to a light "snap" from a rubber band. The number of pulses you receive will depend on the size of the area being treated. Following the procedure, your skin care specialist may help you in icing down the treatment area to help soothe any discomfort from the procedure. This is often unnecessary, however, as IPL™ photofacial treatment causes very little pain.
The recovery time from an IPL™ 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 IPL™ 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 IPL™ 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 IPL™ Treatments
Often, multiple IPL™ 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 IPL™ photofacial treatments you may need to achieve your cosmetic goals.
Risks and Benefits
IPL™ photorejuvenation involves relatively little discomfort and no downtime. Unlike many laser techniques, the procedure is nonablative, meaning no skin is removed during treatment. This contributes to the relatively easy recovery and low risk associated with the IPL™ photofacial/fotofacial, while allowing patients to return to their everyday routine immediately. However, patients should be aware of both the risks and benefits of photorejuvenation; potential risks include bruising, blistering, scabbing, and changes in the skin's pigmentation, although most of these issues soon disappear.
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.
What is intense pulsed light (IPL™) therapy?
Intense pulsed light therapy was invented by Dr. Patrick Bitters Jr. The IPL™ photofacial skin procedure involves the use of an intense beam of broad-spectrum light (as opposed to lasers, which operate within a very specific wavelength) that targets the dermis, the lower layer of the skin. The procedure simultaneously removes damaged and photoaged skin while stimulating collagen growth. IPL™ photorejuvenation therapy can improve the color, consistency, and texture of the skin all at once.
What does IPL™ photorejuvenation treat?
IPL™ photorejuvenation can treat a wide variety of skin problems. It can be used to remove red spots or diffuse redness and can help with acne or rosacea. IPL™ treatments can also help to smooth uneven skin texture, close large pores, and eliminate wrinkles by stimulating collagen growth.
With so many applications, it is no wonder that many consider IPL™ photorejuvenation to be the most versatile skin treatment available.
Are fotofacial, photofacial, and photorejuvenation the same thing?
Yes. These terms all refer to facial treatment based upon a common principle: heating and stimulating the dermis (the inner layer of the skin) while cooling and protecting the epidermis (the outer layer). There are a wide variety of technologies and procedures available for this type of treatment, however, and each works in a slightly different way.
Is IPL™ photorejuvenation safe?
IPL™ photorejuvenation is one of the safest light-based facial treatments available. Most patients experience little or no pain during the procedure. Some patients have reported that the light pulses feel similar to a light "snap" from a rubber band. There have been few reported long-term side effects of IPL™ photorejuvenation, and the most common side effects - redness, minor swelling, and inflammation - usually go away within a few hours to a few days after treatment.
What results can I expect after IPL™ treatment?
Immediately after your treatment, your face will appear slightly red or flushed, but this is completely normal. It will take several hours to a day or so for the treatment's results to become noticeable. The redness will fade, and you will see improvements more and more. Depending on the condition you are treating, your experience will differ. For example, if you are treating acne with IPL™ photorejuvenation, your skin may remain red for several days before you notice an improvement. If you are seeking to stimulate collagen growth, the redness may disappear sooner, and you will begin to see a smoother skin texture within a few days.
Though recovery from IPL™ photorejuventation is rapid, it is important to keep in mind that sunscreen is vital to ensuring the results of the procedure last as long as possible. Be sure to protect the treated area from the sun for at least a couple of weeks, either by covering the area or wearing strong sunscreen. Speak to your physician about the best way to do this. If the proper steps are taken to maintain the improvements, the results of your treatment may last up to a year or longer.
Are multiple treatment sessions recommended?
Depending on the area being treated and the severity of the problem, multiple treatment sessions may be recommended. For many problems, physicians will recommend between three and five treatments.
Are photorejuvenation and photodynamic therapy the same thing?
No. Photodynamic therapy usually refers to the use of a compound called a photosensitizer that is applied to the skin and activated by a light source. A good example of photodynamic therapy is Levulan® treatment. Levulan® contains Aminolevulinic Acid, a naturally occurring photosensitizer. When activated by a blue light, this compound shrinks the glands that cause acne and other skin problems.
Unlike photodynamic therapy, IPL™ photorejuvenation works by light alone; the only substance applied to the skin is an optional gel designed to lubricate and cool the skin. IPL™ photorejuvenation works by targeting the dermis, "tricking" the lower level of the skin into thinking it has suffered a minor injury, which stimulates rebuilding processes such as the regrowth of collagen. Though Levulan® and IPL™ photorejuvenation both help to rejuvenate the skin, they do so by different methods.
What is the average cost of IPL™ treatment?
IPL™ photorejuvenation cost usually runs between $300 and $600 per treatment. However, the exact amount varies depending on the area of the country in which the treatment is performed.
Are there side effects associated with IPL™ photorejuvenation?
Most reported side effects of IPL™ 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 IPL™ photorejuvenation vs. laser treatment?
One of the greatest benefits of IPL™ photorejuvenation is that it can treat a wide range of skin problems. With IPL™ 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. IPL™ photorejuvenation 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.