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361 Hospital Road, Suite 533, Newport Beach, CA 92663

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
Conveniently located to serve Newport Beach and Orange County

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), also known as photorejuvenation, photofacial or fotofacials, treatments are most commonly used for:

  • Lightening and removing sun spots, age spots and brown blotches on the face, neck, chest, hands
  • Lightening and reducing redness, rosacea, dilated blood vessels and broken blood vessels on the face, neck and chest
  • Controlling facial flushing

Treatment usually consists of a series of 3-5 sessions, usually one every three to six weeks. There is minimal “downtime” after an IPL procedure. Makeup can be used right after the treatment. Veins and vascular lesions look slightly redder after the treatment for two to five days. Rarely, there is bruising, which can take 1-2 weeks to resolve. Freckles and age spots look darker for 3-7 days. Crusting can occur, which may last up to ten days. The lesions will then begin to clear and will generally be resolving at one month.

Be suspicious of low cost specials for IPL treatments. They are usually low cost for a reason. Many IPLs that are sold to salons and spa have less power than the IPLs sold to doctor’s offices. The treatment may appear to cost less but not be equivalent in the laser used or the expertise of the personnel using the laser. Furthermore, IPLs can cause serious burns, skin discoloration, and scarring if not done properly. A doctor, certified physician assistant (PA-C), nurse practitioner (NP) or RN experienced in laser treatments should perform the procedure.


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Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) FAQ’s

What does IPL do?
  • Reverse the signs of sun damage.
  • Improves uneven skin tone and reduces redness.
  • Removes undesirable facial veins.
How does IPL work?

Pulses of various wavelengths of light target pigment in unwanted brown spots and hemoglobin in unwanted vessels and vascular lesions in the skin, causing them to gradually disappear through the skin’s natural healing process.

What is the difference between IPL and laser skin treatments?

An IPL treatment is quite similar to a laser treatment. However, there are certain factors that differentiate the two treatment options:

  • IPL releases light of different wavelengths, just like a photo flash. Laser treatments instead focus on just one light wavelength.
  • The IPL energy is in a less focused and more scattered form than laser energy. This helps in penetrating the second layer of the skin without harming the epidermis (the top layer of skin). Because of this, less damage is caused to the skin than during laser treatments.
  • The light energy from IPL is absorbed more easily than laser energy by the pigment cells of the skin. This is then converted into heat that destroys unwanted pigmentation.
What should I do to prepare for treatment?

Before the IPL procedure, the skin is first examined thoroughly. At this time, it is best to discuss any underlying skin conditions that you suffer from, since these may affect your healing process.

Certain activities and medications should also be avoided before the day of your treatment session:

  • Avoid tanning or excess sun exposure for at least two weeks prior to treatment. The IPL targets pigment in brown spots and may not be able to distinguish between the pigment in surrounding tanned skin.
  • Shave any dark hair in areas to be treated.
  • Waxing should be avoided on the treatment area.
  • Chemical peels should be avoided two weeks prior to the procedure.
  • Avoid taking any drugs that may increase bleeding risks. These include ibuprofen and aspirin.
What can be expected during treatment?
  • The treatment area is first cleaned carefully.
  • A hand piece emits multiple bright pulses of light, which creates an instantaneous rubber band snap-like sensation on the skin.
  • The end of the hand piece is chilled to quickly cool the skin and improve comfort during treatment.
  • Each treatment takes 10 to 30 minutes depending on the area(s) being treated.
What are the post-treatment recommendations?
  • Mild sunburn-like sensation, which typically lats 2-24 hours, but can persist up to 72 hours.
  • Mild swelling and/or redness may occur, which typically resolves within 2-3 days.
  • Apply wrapped ice or cool gel packs to treatment area(s) at 10-15 minute intervals for the next 4 hours as needed. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
  • Over the counter anti-inflammatory (ibuprofen) or an analgesic (acetaminophen) may be taken to help reduce discomfort. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for use.
  • Vessels may undergo immediate graying or blanching, or may appear slightly purple or red. The vessels will fully or partially fade within 10-14 days.
  • Brown spots may look darker, giving a “coffee grounds” appearance. Dark spots may also appear raised with a reddened perimeter. The brown spots may darken over the first 24-48 hours, then crust and flake off within 7-21 days and continue to fade over the next 6-8 weeks.
  • Do not pick or pull at darkened spots.
  • Avoid the following until redness has resolved:
    • Applying cosmetics to treated areas.
    • Swimming, Hot Tubs, Jacuzzis, especially in pools with chemicals.
    • Activities that cause excessive perspiration.
    • Sun exposure to treated areas.
    • Aggressive scrubbing and use of exfoliants to treated areas.
  • Bathe/shower as usual. Treated areas may be temperature-sensitive.
  • Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 45 or higher containing a physical blocker such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide between and following treatments.
What are possible side effects?
  • Prolonged itching, redness , and blistering.
  • Hair removal in treated area.
  • Bruising, peeling, rash, lightening or darkening of skin color, ingrown hairs, crusting, swelling, infection, and removal or lightening of freckles.
  • Removal or lightening of freckles.
  • Scarring.

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