What is IPL and how does it work?

What can IPL treat?

Contraindications (reasons why IPL may not be suitable for you)

How will my skin react after the IPL treatment?

Pre and Post treatment recommendations:

Is your skin suitable for IPL treatment?

Expected Hair Reduction

Time span between treatments

After IPL hair removal

Aftercare Instructions

What is IPL and how does it work?

IPL is a non-invasive medical technology that utilises light at specific wavelengths to treat a number of common problems. An intense pulse of light is released from a handpiece into the skin targeting unwanted or excess hair, pigmented lesions, vascular lesions, acne or wrinkles (photorejuvenation). As the photons from the light hit the chromophores in the skin the light turns to heat, destroying the unwanted hair or lesions, all while leaving the healthy skin unscathed.

What can IPL treat?

  • Excess hair
  • Acne
  • Superficial blood vessels
  • Benign pigmentation
  • Wrinkles (Photorejuvenation)

Contraindications (reasons why IPL may not be suitable for you)

  • Recent sunburn
  • Unprotected sun exposure or solarium use 4 weeks prior to treatment
  • Pregnancy
  • History of seizures
  • Severe dermatitis or eczema (within the treatment area)
  • Active infections
  • Roaccutane use in the last 6 months
  • Herpes 1 or 2 (within the treatment area)
  • Very dark skin
  • Removing hair by the root e.g. waxing or tweezing 4 weeks prior to treatment (hair removal only)
  • Photo sensitising medications are best avoided

How will my skin react after the IPL treatment?

  • Most patients will experience a sunburn like sensation that lasts 2 to 5 hours and is often associated with mild to moderate redness. The treated area is generally sensitive to heat for 2 days following treatment.
  • After hair removal the skin may appear spotty – this is inflammation caused from the heat absorbed in the hair follicle and can last 2 to 24 hours.
  • After treatment of pigmented lesions the lesion will go darker sometimes almost black, then will fall off within 7 to 28 days (depending on the area of the body) or it will just gradually fade.
  • After treatment of vascular lesions they will either disappear immediately or appear grey or purplish in colour. Diffuse redness immediately appears a lot redder then gradually lightens within 2-3 weeks. Vascular treatments generally require 3 weekly treatments for best results.

Pre and Post treatment recommendations:

  • Pre treatment

    • Discontinue sun exposure 4 weeks prior to your treatment.
    • Do not use fake tan 1-2 weeks prior to your treatment.
    • Use an SPF 30 daily.
    • If having IPL hair removal, do not wax, tweeze or pluck the hair for 4 weeks prior to your treatment.
    • Shaving or depilatory creams are fine and you will need to shave the treatment site before your IPL session.
    • If you have a history of herpes close to the area being treated, it is recommended that you take antiviral medication before the treatment.
  • Post treatment

    • A sunburn-like sensation is expected for about 2-5 hours after the treatment. If this is uncomfortable apply cold compresses or ice to the treated area.
    • Your skin may be temperature sensitive for the following 2 days, so do not use very hot water or your shower or bath.
    • Please protect you skin from the sun.
    • Do not exfoliate the skin for 1 week after the treatment.
    • Your skin may be more sensitive to certain skin care.
    • Do not pick blisters or skin crusting as this may lead to a scar.
    • If you have any questions or concerns, please call the practice.

Is your skin suitable for IPL treatment?

In order to select the correct skin type for IPL treatment, the table below is used to classify skin according to its melanin (pigment) content and the skins reaction to the sun. The lighter the skin type, the more suitable it is for IPL treatment.

 Skin Type  Classification Colour Indication for IPL
 l  Always burns easily and never tans  White  Best skin for IPL treatment
 ll  Burns easily and tans minimally White  Good skin for IPL treatment
 lll  Sometimes burns and tans gradually White  Good skin for IPL treatment
 lV  Burns minimally and always tans  Moderate  Acceptable skin for IPL
treatment
 V+  Rarely burns, naturally dark skin  Dark Brown +  Not recommended for IPL treatment

Expected Hair Reduction

Hair grows in 3 phases. IPL can only treat the hair within one of these phases called anagen. This is when the hair is growing and there are actively dividing cells in the hair follicle.

At any given time, there is only a certain percentage of hair in anagen. This is why IPL must be performed over a number of sessions with a certain time span between treatments to achieve the best result. However, we can only achieve approximately 70% to 90% hair reduction, no IPL system can achieve 100% hair removal though what is remaining is generally lighter and finer.

The number of sessions required depends on your hair and skin colour and how your body responds to the treatments. The following is used as a guide only.

 Hair Colour Skin Colour Estimated Number of Sessions
 Dark l, ll and lll 4 – 6 sessions
 Medium l, ll and lll 5 – 7 sessions
 Light l, ll and lll 8 -10 sessions
 Dark lV 6 – 8 sessions
Medium lV 8 – 10 sessions
 Light/Grey/Red hair Any skin colour IPL is not effective

Time span between treatments

The length of time the hair is in anagen phase will differ on each region of the body. This determines the ideal time between each treatment session.

Region Time Between Sessions
Face  6 – 8 weeks
Bikini 10 -12 weeks
Under Arms 10 -12 weeks
Arms 10 -12 weeks
Legs 10 -12 weeks
Back 10 -12 weeks

After IPL hair removal

  • The hair will appear to grow (though very slowly) for 2 to 4 weeks and should then fall out; this is the treated hair being pushed out of the follicle, not new growth. Any hair that does not fall out was either too fine, too light, too deeply rooted or possibly wasn’t treated.
  • After the hair falls out you should have a hair free period for approximately 3 to 6 weeks.
  • New growth will appear, though there will be a certain percentage of hairs that don’t grow back. This percentage will increase with each session.
  • Between treatments, growth can be shaved but not waxed or tweezed.

Aftercare Instructions

 

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