Dark spots on the skin?
As we age one of the more frustrating signs of wear and tear is dark spots. They can come as a result of injury, sun exposure, hormonal changes, pregnancies, or a myriad of other issues. And, like an unwelcome dinner guest, once they arrive they can be very very hard to get rid of.
There are several different treatments for dark spots including creams and chemical peels, and these certainly can be helpful, but perhaps the most powerful treatment for dark spots is intense pulsed light therapy.
IPL (short for “intensed pulsed light”) remains one of the most effective ways to get rid of dark spots on the skin. Although it is often referred to as a laser treatment, it does not technically utilize laser light. We could go into further detail, but it would involve going into some pretty heavy physics of light technology. Laser treatments and IPL utilize different wavelengths of light, and each is more effective for different skin issues. For dark spots we prefer IPL over laser.
How does IPL work?
The specific wavelengths of light emitted from this machine are specifically attracted to pigment. That pigment can be from skin, capillaries, or hair follicles. During treatment the light hits the skin and its energy is transferred to heat which destroys the pigment. Once the pigment is destroyed the body’s natural regenerative process goes to work creating regrowth of more youthful, even-toned skin. Because the energy of IPL is more scattered than that of the more focused laser light, it can potentially hit and destroy the normal pigment in the skin surrounding dark spots. For this reason it is not recommended for use in suntanned or darker skin types.
What can I expect during treatment?
IPL treatments are usually very quick. If the settings are too high it can be uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t be painful. Most people describe the feeling of the IPL as a small rubber band flick.
How much does it cost?
This varies from patient to patient, so the best way to get an accurate idea of cost is to come in for a free consultation.
What can I expect after treatment?
Our IPL treatments are gentle enough that there is essentially no downtime. As opposed to some of the more aggressive treatments that blast off the top layer of skin, this treatment doesn’t result in excessive swelling or redness. Most patients are able to go right back to work or other day activities right after the treatment. Once the pigment is destroyed it takes several days to work itself to the surface and get sloughed off. As it works itself to the surface the skin will look darker. This is usually at its worst at about 24 hours. It takes about 3-4 weeks to completely resolve.
How many treatments does it take?
Some patients see years of results after only one treatment, but we recommended that you plan on two or three sessions for maximal benefits.
What special precautions do I need to take after an IPL treatment?
• No picking at the skin! This can cause hyperpigmentation.
• Sunscreen is a MUST. Sun exposure can cause reactivation of the pigment-producing cells, leading to the very problem we just treated.
• No exfoliation until any crusting has resolved.
• For 24 hours avoid excessive heat, exercise, or anything that would raise body temperature.
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