IPL Photofacial

With all of the skin rejuvenation treatments out there, a person can get confused. At Bucay Center for Dermatology and Aesthetics, we like IPL photofacials for treatment of a variety of skin problems. We use photofacials to remove broken capillaries; diffuse overall redness; address moderate acne and rosacea; remove age spots; even to improve the color, consistency, and texture of the skin. Photofacials are a great, non-invasive way to improve your skin without any recovery time.

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What is an IPL photofacial?

There is a basic misunderstanding of the difference between intense pulsed light (IPL) and lasers when it comes to skin rejuvenation. The difference comes down to the light delivered. IPL machines deliver an intense beam of broad-spectrum light. Lasers only deliver a specific wavelength of light.

In an IPL photofacial, the broad spectrum of light targets the dermis (the skin’s second layer), leaving the epidermis (the skin’s surface layer) undamaged. IPL photofacials at Bucay have two components: energy is absorbed by skin imperfections such as age spots, and energy heats the cells in the deeper dermis triggering increased collagen production.

How do IPL Photofacials work?

The broad spectrum of light energy delivered by IPL has different effects. When tuned and targeted at hemoglobin (the red blood cells in the blood vessels) or melanin (the brown pigment in age spots), the light beam passes through the skin and is absorbed by the hemoglobin or melanin. This energy damages the vessel wall or fragments the melanin pigment. The body then absorbs the damaged vessels or bits of melanin pigment.

The other effect comes with collagen production. When the IPL energy bypasses the epidermis, its energy enters the dermis gently heating the cells. These cells, called fibroblasts, react to the heating by producing more collagen. This is a wound response from the body, although no actual wound occurs.

What can be treated with a photofacial?

  • Lightening and removing sun spots; age spots; and brown blotchy areas on the face, chest, and hands
  • Lightening and reducing redness; rosacea; dilated blood vessels; and broken blood vessels on the face, neck, and chest
  • Improving skin texture through collagen stimulation
  • Decreasing overly large pores

Most benefits occur gradually in the weeks following your treatments, as imperfections such as age spots are broken down and as your body produces new collagen. 

Am I a candidate?

Patients with blotchy, sun-damaged, or discolored skin can benefit from IPL photofacials. So can those with large pores, freckles, and fine lines. Rosacea responds well to IPL treatment, as do broken capillaries and dilated blood vessels.

People with tanned or naturally darker pigmentation may experience some pigmentation issues with IPL photofacials, so they are not always good candidates. This is because the extra melanin in the skin can attract too much light energy.

How is an IPL photofacial done and what does it feel like?

When you come to Bucay Center for Dermatology and Aesthetics we provide you with special protective eyewear to protect your eyes from the light. We then place a cooling gel on the treatment areas to keep your surface skin comfortable. The smooth glass surface of the handpiece is gently applied to your skin and the intense pulses of light are delivered. You will feel something akin to a small rubber band being snapped on your skin with each light pulse, but it is not painful.

When your session is complete, usually in 30-90 minutes depending on the size of the treatment area, the nurse will remove the gel, clean your skin, and apply a moisturizer. For larger treatments, we may apply a cold pack for five to 10 minutes after your session.

What happens after my photofacial?

When treating blood vessels, your skin will be slightly redder following your session. This will last from two to five days; then the vessel appearance will decrease. For age spots and freckles, the spots will darken for three days to a week. They may crust over and peel. After about a month, the spots will dramatically lighten or disappear. 

Overall results will usually fully show themselves in three to five months.

How long do my results last?

This depends on you. If you limit your sun exposure the redness and age spots will stay away. However, if you go right back out in the sun regularly without adequate coverage, they will return.

How many IPL treatments will I need?

Because IPL photofacials are non-invasive, multiple treatment sessions are necessary to keep improving your skin. Most patients respond well to three to five treatments spaced about one month apart. The age spots and redness will diminish and collagen production continues to improve over that time.

Photofacials vs. laser resurfacing

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is used to treat more severe skin issues such as severe acne, rosacea, and such. The application of the IPL light is the same; the difference is that in PDT a photosensitizing agent, usually Levulan, is applied prior to the light delivery. The light energy then activates the chemical.

Laser resurfacing removes some of the surface layer of the skin. This is called ablative resurfacing. Photofacials do not harm the skin’s surface, instead directing energy into the dermis layer.

What are the side effects?

There are not really any side effects other than mild, temporary swelling, and redness. This passes in a few days, at the most. Brown spots will likely have some slight crusting.

Schedule a consultation

If you’re worried about the appearance of your skin due to redness, acne, age spots and more, visit Dr. Bucay in San Antonio to discuss if a Photofacial is right for you. If you’re ready to look as young as you feel, call Dr. Vivian Bucay today to schedule a consultation. Call  210.692.3000 in La Casita or  210.370.9995 in Sonterra today!

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