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What is an IPL Treatment?

Article Details
  • Written By: Aniza Pourtauborde
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 19 July 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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IPL stands for intense pulsed light, a medical technique that addresses a variety of skin problems caused by aging and exposure to sun. Commonly known as photorejuvenation or photofacial, an IPL treatment employs light of high intensity in a broad band across the area of skin targeted for treatment. This light flashes through the surface of the skin, the epidermis, and focuses on its deeper layers, the dermis, in order to remove damaged cells and promote new cell growth in its place.

The many IPL technologies that exist differ according to the type of treatment required. An IPL treatment is usually recommended for problems, such as skin discoloration or hyper-pigmentation, acne rosacea, birthmarks, unsightly scars, and stretch marks. It is also used to help reverse the effects of aging by removing wrinkles and liver spots, which are light brown, black, or red blemishes on the skin.

While it is common to use IPL technology to correct certain skin conditions, an IPL treatment is also an effective hair removal technique. Here, an intense light directed on the skin surface pushes through the epidermis layer, where it is converted into very strong heat energy. This heat energy targets the roots of the hair and destroys them along with the follicles that produce more hair, preventing future hair growth in the area.

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Since an IPL treatment concentrates on the deeper layers of the skin, it is considered as a non-ablative technique. This means that the surface of the skin is undamaged during and after the procedure, producing a better complexion and more even skin tone. In addition, an IPL treatment is virtually painless and does not require that a patient receive any form of anesthesia. Due to these advantages, patients need little to no recovery time after the process. They can even return to work the very same day as each treatment is reasonably quick, taking between 30 to 45 minutes from start to end.

Patients often favor IPL technology for hair removal and correcting skin irregularities because of the positive results it delivers in a short period of time. An IPL treatment is effective because the intense light is beamed across a large area at any one time, getting rid of problem areas swiftly and efficiently. For instance, skin redness due to acne rosacea can often be eliminated in one or two sessions. Results attained after an IPL treatment are usually long-term to permanent.

While there are many benefits to using IPL technology, there are some reported side effects, such as mild skin irritation, overheated skin resulting in burns and blisters, patches of pale or dark skin pigments, and the skin's oversensitivity towards sunlight. All these side effects are normally temporary, as the skin is still vulnerable after an IPL treatment. To prevent such problems, patients are advised to use antiseptic cream on the treated area and to reduce sun exposure by applying high strength SPF sun block whenever they go out.

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