Many people desire a clear complexion, but even with meticulous skin care and safe sun practices, flawless skin can be difficult to achieve. Photorejuvenation, a minimally invasive skin procedure which uses Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) technology, can help reduce the appearance of common skin issues, including freckles, brown spots, broken capillaries, and sun spots. Both recovery time and side effects are minimal, making photorejuvenation a popular skin treatment.
How does photorejuvenation work?
Photorejuvenation is the treatment of skin pigmentation, sun damage, and thread veins in the skin by using Intense Pulsed Light (IPL). Intense pulses of visible, broad-spectrum light ranging from 515nm to 1200nm are applied over the patient’s skin through a continuously cooled applicator. Cut-off filters in the handpiece are adjusted to change the range of wavelengths, optimizing the light for different applications and skin types. The light penetrates the tissue and is absorbed by chromophores (the parts of molecules responsible for colour) (e.g. oxyhemoglobin in blood vessels, or melanin in pigmented lesions). The chromophores are heated to destruction and are then naturally reabsorbed by the body. The end result is more even and youthful looking skin after treatment.
What can IPL treat?
IPL can help treat the following symptoms:
- Hyperpigmentation (brown spots)
- Textural problems
- Large, visible pores
- Melasma (tan or dark skin discolourations)
- Excessive flushing
- Age and sun spots
- Broken capillaries
- Port wine stains
- Spider veins
- Stretch marks
Is photorejuvenation the right choice for me?
You may want to consider a photorejuvenation treatment if you want to:
- Improve the appearance of your skin without having a full surgical procedure
- Treat redness, brown spots or scarring on your skin
- Improve skin texture
What are the pros and cons of photorejuvenation that I should consider?
Here are the top three pros and cons to consider when contemplating photorejuvenation treatment:
- Minimal recovery time
- Offers relatively long-lasting improvements in skin quality and texture
- May be performed anywhere on the body
- Multiple treatments may be required before reaching the desired result
- Not as effective on tanned or darker skin
- Patients must avoid sun exposure after each photorejuvenation treatment
What can I expect during my initial photorejuvenation consultation?
During your initial consultation, the esthetician will inquire about your medical history; you should be prepared to discuss aspects of your medical history including information about previous surgeries, past and present medical conditions, current medications, and any allergies you may have. The esthetician will also learn about your specific skin concerns, examine your skin, and discuss which areas may be improved by photorejuvenation.
Other topics that should be covered include the planned approach to your treatment, the results that you can anticipate, your financial investment in the treatment, options for anesthesia, associated risks and complications, what you need to do to prepare for your treatment, and what you can expect after your treatment.
Finally, the esthetician will design a treatment plan tailored to your skin concerns and will include the estimated number of treatments required to achieve optimal results. Alternative and additional treatments may also be discussed during your consultation.
How should I prepare for my treatment?
The esthetician will provide you with pre-treatment instructions during your initial consultation:
- Moisturize regularly, avoid sun exposure, and wear sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher
- Stop smoking at least six weeks before undergoing treatment to promote better healing
- Avoid taking medications that can cause increased bleeding (e.g. aspirin, certain anti-inflammatory drugs, and some herbal medications)
- Avoid taking certain antibiotics and topical creams such as retinoids (Retin-A) that can affect skin sensitivity
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated before and after treatment which will help with recovery
- Avoid wearing any makeup or skincare products to your treatment and thoroughly cleanse your face prior to treatment
What can I expect during my treatment?
The majority of photorejuvenation procedures take approximately 20 to 30 minutes, but the duration will depend on the size of the area being treated as well as the type and number of skin blemishes being treated. The esthetician may apply a topical anesthetic to your skin to minimize discomfort and/or a topical gel to keep your skin from feeling too much heat during the light pulses. Both you and the esthetician will wear protective glasses to shield your eyes from the light during treatment.
After your procedure, you will be closely monitored by your esthetician. After a short period of recovery time, you will be permitted to go home.
What does IPL treatment feel like?
The intense pulses of light used in the photorejuvenation procedure may cause mild discomfort. Some patients liken the sensation to a rubber band being snapped against their skin.
What can I expect after my treatment?
Immediately after your treatment, you may feel a slight sunburn sensation in the area that was treated, though this feeling will subside within 24 hours. Patients generally do not experience any side effects in the two days following treatment. Though rare, scabs or blisters may appear on the treated area; it is important not to pick at them. You should avoid hot water contact and sun exposure on the treated skin for up to two days after treatment.
After forty-eight hours, patients may discover that the blemishes on their skin temporarily darken for a period of up to two weeks due to the skin’s natural shedding process. Over time, the skin blemishes will fade and become lighter than they were before the treatment.
How long will my photorejuvenation results last?
The length of your photorejuvenation results will depend on the type and size of the skin blemishes you are having treated, as well as the number of areas being treated. For basic photorejuvenation, patients are advised to undergo between two to six treatments spaced four weeks apart.
Photorejuvenation can successfully reduce the visibility of brown spots, flushing or spider veins for a long period of time. However, photorejuvenation does not stop the skin from ageing, so new blemishes or wrinkles will likely appear over time. For this reason, many patients opt to undergo IPL treatment multiple times over a period of several years to minimize the affects of ageing on the skin.
In order to maintain your photorejuvenation results, aftercare is extremely important. Here are some preventative measures that you can take to reduce the signs of ageing:
- Wear a minimum SPF 30 broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB radiation on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun every day, particularly in the summer
- Pay extra attention to protecting the face, ears, lips, neck, décolleté, and hands, the areas most susceptible to photoageing
- Apply sunscreen to the body liberally and reapply every two hours (or after swimming, excessive sweating or toweling off)
- Reduce exposure to UV radiation by limiting time in the sun, especially between the peak hours of 10am and 4pm
- Refer to Environment Canada’s daily UV Index reports and take appropriate precautions based on the predicted UV levels
- Avoid tanning from the sun, sun beds or indoor tanning equipment, all of which emit harmful UV rays
- Wear protective clothing to cover exposed skin, such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses
- Seek shade outdoors (when possible) from trees, shade coverings, umbrellas, and buildings
To learn more about the effects of UV exposure on ageing, visit our blog post here.
Silhouette Spa and Laser is proud to now offer photorejuvenation treatments to our clients. We use the Lumenis Quantum laser, a leading Intense Pulse Light solution designed to perform multiple cosmetic skin treatments. Contact us today to set up a consultation with one of our experienced estheticians to discuss your photorejuvenation treatment.