What is IPL?

IPL is an acronym for “Intense Pulsed Light.” It is a therapy that utilizes the energy emitted from intense light to treat different skin conditions. 

What is it used for?
IPL is used primarily for sun and age spots, but it is also beneficial for redness, freckles, broken capillaries, spider veins, rosacea, and wrinkles/fine lines. Certain IPL machines also remove unwanted hair.  

How does it work? 
The light from IPL is attracted to pigment (melanin, blood vessels, or pigment from hair follicles). Once the light energy enters the skin it is instantaneously turned into heat energy that targets and destroys the pigment it comes in contact with. 

Can it be done on suntanned or ethnically darker skin?
Unfortunately, because of the amount of baseline pigment in darker skin great caution must be used. If this baseline pigment gets destroyed it can leave behind unwanted light spots that are permanent. The best way to know how the skin responds to IPL is to first do a test in an inconspicuous area. 

Is it painful? 
The Alma Harmony IPL has several different settings, and generally speaking the lighter the setting the less it will be felt. It feels similar to the fick of a rubber band. Lower settings might not be felt at all, which higher settings can be uncomfortable. 

What can I expect during a procedure? 
It depends on the settings used for the treatment. Alma Harmony IPL has two different settings: motion and pulse. With the “pulse” settings the light energy introduced into the skin can feel like a little rubber band snap. With the “motion” setting patients primarily just feel the heat coming off the part of the applicator in contact with the skin. In both cases, the higher the settings the more intensely it is felt by the skin. 

What can I expect after a procedure? 
After the treatment it is common to experience mild redness and swelling, similar to a mild sunburn. If the “pulse” setting is used over the next few days you should notice an increase in the dark spots and blemishes as they come to the surface of the skin. Often they will look like coffee grounds. Eventually these spots will flake away. If the “motion” setting is used you might not notice any difference right away.

What is the down time? 
There is no down time after the procedure. However, it is recommended that you wear minimal makeup for approximately 12 hours after.

What special precautions need to be taken after the procedure? 
The most important thing to do is to wear sunscreen and avoid sun exposure for at least 2 weeks after the procedure. Although you can’t see it on the surface, the skin is in healing mode and is more sensitive than normal. Sun exposure can easily damage it. Also, because IPL is a heat-based treatment, it is a good idea not to expose the skin to further excessive heat from hot baths, saunas, or intense physical activity for 24-48 hours. It is also a good idea to come back in 2-3 weeks later for a dermaplane to exfoliate and remove the remaining dead skin cells. 

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