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Photofacials use IPL light treatment to affect and improve the appearance and condition of the skin. A photofacial is different from a laser treatment which uses only one wavelength of light. IPL uses multiple wavelengths and is transmitted through a small smooth transparent headpiece placed onto the skin. A photofacial rejuvenates the skin by creating minor damage that encourages the production of collagen by the skin. It will reveal brighter, younger, and healthier-looking skin by improving the overall tone and texture. The most commonly treated areas include the face, neck, chest, and hands.
The treatment consists of multiple pulses delivered with the light source. Each pulse feels like a brief hot stinging or snapping sensation that is mildly uncomfortable. A device that blows cold air is used during the treatment to keep the skin cool and decrease discomfort. Some patients choose to take ibuprofen prior to treatment to help with discomfort. Use of topical anesthetic prior to treatment may decrease effectiveness as it constricts blood vessels making it harder for the laser to “see” them.
Tanned skin cannot be safely treated, so we ask that you avoid sun exposure for four weeks prior to your treatment and self-tanning products should not be applied to the treatment area two weeks prior. If you have a history of cold sores, be sure to notify your provider prior to your appointment and he or she will prescribe a medication to take the night before that will reduce the likelihood of a breakout. If you are using any products containing a retinoid on the treatment area, we ask that you stop using them five to seven days prior to your treatment.
It is expected to have mild swelling and redness immediately after the treatment that usually resolves after two to three days. Pigmented lesions darken before resolving and develop a “peppering” appearance before sloughing away in about one to two weeks. There is minimal social downtime, which means most people feel comfortable returning to work and normal activities immediately after the treatment, but often avoid major social events. Makeup may be applied immediately. Avoid the use of retinoid on the treatment area for five to seven days after treatment. It is also recommended that gentle skincare products be used for the first five to seven days following the treatment. A sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and zinc oxide as an active ingredient should be used daily.
We recommend a series of three to five treatments scheduled four to six weeks apart. Maintenance treatments are then recommended as needed, typically once a year.
Each treatment will yield a percentage of improvement with overall results culminating in the month following the series of treatments. Most patients report the largest percentage improvement after the first treatment, as there is the largest target present for the laser. Subsequent treatments contribute additional results to the overall improvement.
Photorejuvenation is not safe in darker skin types or tan skin. Patients who have taken isotretinoin (Accutane) within the previous 12 months or are currently pregnant cannot have the treatment. Patients who have a history of radiation treatments, collagen/vascular diseases or autoimmune disease may not respond as well. In addition, smoking, excessive alcohol and excessive sun exposure limit results.