I have a secret. I have an unwavering love for the sun. now don’t get me wrong, I wear SPF, hats, and hang out under umbrellas, but I still love the sun. I think there is a common misconception that if you take all of the aforementioned precautions then you won’t wind up with sun damage. WRONG! Those UV rays are tricky and they find a way to circumvent even the most advanced sun protection leaving you with brown and red spots. Oh you didn't know? Diffuse redness and broken capillaries are also signs of sun damage. What’s a sun-loving guy or gal to do? Well, by now, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about IPL, otherwise known as Intense Pulsed Light or photofacial. Pulsed light therapy is flashes of light energy that targets and destroys specific chromophores in epidermal tissue, specifically melanin and oxyhemoglobin or brown and red spots. These are the pesky spots that turn up as a result of overindulging in sun exposure. Reds and browns absorb rather than reflect light making skin appear dull and lifeless. These unsightly blotches can age otherwise healthy skin. By applying light energy that converts to heat in the skin, we are able to eradicate the offending spots. Initially, browns get darker, this is called micro crusting. Micro crusting is essentially, necrotic melanin. Superficial micro crusting looks like coffee grounds and will slough off over 7-10 days leaving clear beautiful reflective skin behind. Deeper pigment will darken, but rather than slough off, it is absorbed by the body. Reds get redder as the blood is coagulated by heat from the light energy and the body is signaled to consume the damaged vessel. Again, the result is clear healthy skin.
Seems pretty cut and dry, right? Slow your roll, there is a lot more to know. For one thing, pigment exists in layers, so you should expect multiple treatments to get full clearing. If reds are your main concern, know that the vascular system is complex and there are larger vessels feeding into smaller vessels which can make it difficult to shut down some capillaries. If you are patient and consistent most vascular lesions on the face are quite treatable. You should also be aware that not all IPL devices are created equally. Some IPL devices use light energy that falls in a group of wavelengths rather than one specific wavelength. That means that the energy is spread over a larger treatment area and is less targeted. Imagine you are hunting. Do you stand at the edge of the woods and fire your gun into the trees hoping to hit whatever you are hunting, or do you find a spot where your target is most likely to be? Some IPL devices will give the option of choosing specific wavelengths so that energy is focused on specific chromophores. In my practice, we chose two different machines both of which allow the technician to choose specific wavelengths for a more targeted, and ultimately a more successful treatment.
Sciton is a laser technology company that has revolutionized aesthetic lasers. We refer to our Sciton as "the Bentley of lasers." Sciton's commitment to safe, effective and user-friendly laser treatments has made them a giant in our industry. Their version of IPL, called BBL (broad band light) allows the technician to choose from 6 different targeted filters that can be switched out mid-treatment for ultimate control and a truly customized treatment. Tunable delivery times and temperature adjustments give further control for the safest most efficacious treatments possible.
Sciton BBL Before 4 Weeks after 3rd treatment
The Formatk Alpha is another platform device that has capabilities for 5 different treatment modes including in-motion pulsed light treatments. In-motion treatments deliver smaller amounts of energy over longer amounts of time to allow for more comfortable treatments and the inclusion of darker skin types. One of the coolest features (pun intended) is its ability to change the chilled tip settings for customized heat delivery. Adjusting the cooling by just 5⁰ can completely change tissue interaction for the better. This device offers clinical flexibility that others don't.
Pulsed light isn't just for browns and reds. It can also be used to treat acne by zapping bacteria using lower wavelength filters. Lower wavelengths, even though they are not measures of depth, will treat more superficial targets while higher wavelengths treat deeper tissues. If we are treating for multiple targets we treat from higher wavelengths to lower wavelengths so we avoid overheating the epidermis. Speaking of heat, there is a hidden bonus in each pulsed light treatment. Because we are plugging in heat that exceeds 41⁰C we are stimulating collagen production which will lift and tighten the skin. Don't get too excited though they are small pulses so collagen production is minimal. That's still better than nothing and certainly worth mentioning!
Photofacials are a great option for many, but a consultation to determine candidacy is advisable. The day of your treatment, you can expect redness and mild swelling in the treatment area. Minutes to hours after your IPL you may notice the micro crusting or coffee grounds darkening and reaching their darkest at about 8 hours. Never pick or exfoliate these little specks away. If they are removed prematurely you may wind up with small white spots that take years to go away, and in some cases are permanent. Avoid unprotected sun exposure for two weeks prior to treatment and for the rest of your natural life thereafter. No, seriously though, you have to protect the investment you are making in your skin's health and the easiest way to do that is to protect it from sun damage...always, and forever. If you accidentally mess up and get some sun, we're here for you!
To schedule a complimentary consultation, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at 480.947.6788.
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