What is Intense Pulse Light Treatment?

Intense Pulse Light can treat sun spots, small veins, rosacea, and other forms of skin discoloration.  This machine uses light to target your pigment and blood within your skin while sparing the other structures of the skin for less down time. You usually need 3-4 treatments to be fully effective often times but because of the essentially no downtime, this form of treatment is very popular.  Intense Pulse Light can also be used to reduce unwanted hair as well.

Here is what I usually tell people during a consultation: Intense Pulse Light treatments are indicated for cosmetic and reconstructive applications requiring selective photo thermolysis of soft tissue in the medical specialties of plastic surgery and dermatology. The wavelengths used in intense pulse light are between 515 and 1200 nm for the treatment:

• Benign pigmented epidermal and skin lesions including dyschromia, hyperpigmentation, melasma, scars, striae
• Benign skin vascular lesions, including port wine stains, hemangiomas, facial and truncal telangiectasias, rosacea, erythema of rosacea, angiomas, spider angiomas, poikiloderma of Civatte, leg veins, and venous malformations
• In other words, Intense Pulse Light can be used to treat red and dark spots that are at risk for cancer.

Contraindications for Intense Pulse Light include but are not limited to:

• Current or history of cancer, especially malignant melanoma, or recurrent non-melanoma skin cancer, or pre-cancerous lesions such as multiple dysplastic nevi.
• Any active infection.
• Disease which may be stimulated by light at 560nm to 1200nm, such as history of recurrent Herpes simplex, systemic lupus erythematosus, or porphyria.
• Use of photosensitive medication and / or herbs that may cause sensitivity to 560-1200m light exposure such as isotretinoin, tetracycline, or St John’s Wort (Best Avoided for at least one year before your resurfacing).
• Immunosuppressive disease, including AIDS and HIV infection, or use of immunosuprressive medications.
• Patient history of Hormonal or endocrine disorders, such as polycystic ovary syndrome or diabetes, unless under control.
• History of bleeding coagulopathies, or use of anticoagulants.
• History of keloid or hypertrophic scarring.
• Very dry skin.
• Exposure to sun or artificial tanning during the 3-4 weeks prior to treatment. Sunblock should be applied 2 weeks or more before your procedure using a product that is sensitive for the skin and contains titanium dioxide or zinc oxide-containing sunblock.
• Skin type V1 or very dark, black skin types
• Pregnancy and nursing.
• Ectropion, outward turning of the lower eyelid and excessively dry eyes, previous lower blepharoplasty.
• koebnerizing diseases, prior radiation therapy leading to a loss of adnexal structures, extensive fibrosis resulting from prior cosmetic treatments (e.g., dermabrasion, deep chemical peels, silicone injections).

Intense Pulse Light is not intended to substitute for a surgical facelift, ablative skin resurfacing, or procedures that treat deep wrinkles and saggin skin. It is inended for patients desiring eveness of color in their complexions, or those showing signs of sun damage and photoaging. Intense Pulse Light skin treatments have a great appeal to individuals with active lifestyles who cannot set aside healing time, as required with ablative procedures or surgery. The procedure requires not “downtime”, ie, patients can resume all activities immediately after treatment, except sun exposure.

What can you expect:

• There may be some discomfort or pain associated with treatment
• Transient erythema/edema may appear immediately following treatment
• Pigmented lesions may become darker for up to fourteen days following treatment
• Acceptable results will likely take a number of treatments, usually four to six. The entire program should be planned at the outset so that you can have a set schedule to come in and to help you to have realistic expectations.
• There is a very small risk of adverse reactions such as changes in the testure and pigmentation of the skin. These are usually transient and rare.

Possible side effects of treatment:

Intense Pulse Light are typically administered in a series of four to six treatments, performed at intervals of a minimum of three weeks. A Three week interval has proven optimal. However larger intervals do not appear to adversely influence treatment results. Spreading the treatment over this period provides a gradual improvement of the skin, a minimal risk of adverse effects, and preserves the importrant “no downtime” feature of the program. In rare cases where side effects do occur, postpone further treatments until after complete healing. The most common side effects are:

Discomfort: When a pulse is triggered, it may cause a various degrees of discomfort. Some describe the sensation as stinging, while others liken it to a rubber band snap. A burning sensation may last up to an hour after treatment.

Damage to natural skin texture: A crust or blister may form, which may take from five to ten days to heal

Change of Pigmentation: There may be a change of pigmentation in the treated area. Most cases of hypo- or hyper-pigmentation occur in people with darker skin, or when the treated area has been exposed to sunlight before or after treatment. In some patients, hyper-pigmentation occurs despite protection from the sun. This discoloration usually fades in three to six months, but in rare cases, mainly hypopigmentation, the change of pigment may last longer or be permanent.

Scarring: There is a very small chance of scarring, such as enlarged hypertrophic scars. In very rare cases, abnormal, large, raised keloid scars may appear. To reduce the chance of scarring, it is important to carefully follow all post-treatment instructions and exclude patients that have a genetic tendency for scarring.

Excessive Swelling: Immediately after treatment, especially around the nose and eyes the skin may swell temporarily. Swelling usually subsides within hours to as much as seven days.

Fragile skin: The skin at or near the treatment site may become fragile. If this happens, avoid makeup and do not rub the area, as this might tear the skin.

Bruising: Very rarely, a blue-purple bruise may appear on the treated area. It may last from five to fifteen days. As the bruise fades, there may be rust-brown discoloration of this skin, which fades in one to three months.

Burns: There is a small chance of burns occurring on the skin. To reduce the possibility of burns from occurring, it is important to carefully follow all treatment instructions, and in particular performing test patches can be an option.

Post Treatment:

General: cold packs should be applied immediately after treatment, to cool the treatment site, reduce swelling and ease discomfort. Chemical cold packs are not recommended, if their temperature is below 4 degrees celcius. Alternatively, frozen 4 x 4 gauze, previously moistened with water and inserted into small plastic bags or in plastic wrap, could be used after treatment..

In most cases, the low energy, low risk nature of IPL skin treatments make is safe to resume vitually all activities except excessive sun exposure.

Exposure to Sunlight: Patients should use high factor (30-35spf) sunblock and protect the treated area from exposure to sunlight for at least one month following treatment. Tanning after treatment sessions may enhance melanin regeneration, which may result in hyper-pigmentation.

Makeup: You can use makeup immediately but if there is any reaction you should notify us as soon as possible.

Follow-up: We will have you return every three weeks until your program is completed

Adverse effects: If there is any adverse effects, treatment should be discontinued until the treatment site has healed and the reason for the adverse reactions are understood.

Concluding treatment:
Determining when treatment should be concluded will be discussed with you and we will do everything to make sure that you are happy!

Dr Young is located in Bellevue near Seattle, Washington

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