Many people can't tolerate the downtime or may otherwise not be good candidates for laser skin resurfacing. In these cases, intense pulsed light (IPL), or high-intensity pulsed light therapy, may be an option. This skin treatment goes by many other names, including computer controlled light therapy, Light Laser, MultiLight, Photo Laser and various brand names.
In a nutshell, IPL uses broad-spectrum light that filters out unwanted wavelengths as a means of treating a host of skin conditions and abnormalities.
In fact, IPL can diminish or remove:
Fine lines and wrinkles
Telangiectasias (purple or blue veins on the face, also called spider veins)
Hemangiomas (red, purple, or blue birthmarks formed by blood vessels)
Minor sun damage
Port wine stains
Hypopigmentation (pale spots)
Unlike laser resurfacing, chemical peel and dermabrasion, there is almost no downtime with IPL. That means no blisters, burns or long recovery period, and you can go right back to your life after your treatment is complete.
This therapy is based on high-intensity pulses of light that penetrate the skin. There are several different machines that emit different wavelengths of IPL to penetrate different distances into the skin.
Different wavelengths treat different skin conditions. To remove body hair permanently or almost permanently, for example, IPL zeros in on the hair follicles and kills them. However, hair grows in cycles and some follicles are lying dormant. Light therapy must hit the hair follicle during its growing phase to work properly.
Your technician or doctor will likely apply a topical anesthetic to the treatment area. After this, a cold gel is applied and a glass prism is placed over the treatment area. Pulses of intense light will be flashed through the prism, directed at the treatment area. You will receive several treatments. Your first treatment may not be as aggressive as those that follow. Treatments are usually performed every three to four weeks. The treated area may be slightly pink or red right after your treatment. There may be some mild swelling. Follow your doctor's advice regarding the judicious use of sunscreen with a high sun protection factor after your IPL treatment.
Although rare, blistering or slight bleeding can occur after IPL therapy. Other potential risks may include pigment changes and scarring.