What to Expect During Intense Pulsed Light Therapy

Intense Pulsed Light Therapy, or IPL therapy, is one of the most advanced forms of anti-aging, cosmetic treatments. Unlike laser treatments that use just one form of lighting, IPL treatment uses a mixture of penetrative light pulses to yield comprehensive results. IPL therapy was earlier called ‘Intense Pulse Light Therapy’. People planning to undertake this form of treatment should be familiar with what to expect during a typical Intense Pulsed Light Therapy session.

Most IPL therapy plans involved about four-to-six, short sessions that last for about 25 minutes each. A typical IPL therapy can be divided into the following stages:

Getting Started

The patient is scheduled to be present at the clinic a few hours before the actual treatment. This is usually done to check upon if the patient has followed the recommended regimen that was instructed as a part of the initial consultation.

The anesthetist might talk to the patient about her medical history with anesthesia. Though this too is covered at the time of consultation, a small discussion with the attending anesthetist helps to resolve the patient’s apprehensions about any allergic reactions to anesthesia. Depending upon the patient’s preference and the review of the dermatologist, the patient might be given a light dose of some over-the-counter pain medication along with anesthesia anti-allergens recommended by the anesthetist.

Administering Anesthesia

The anesthesia technician proceeds with applying the topical anesthetic. This practice is quite standard unless the patient persists upon proceeding without the anesthesia. Once the application site turns numb, the dermatologist proceeds with applying a cold gel upon the treatment site. The gel ensures better absorption of the light pulses, ensuring better healing of the underlying skin tissue.

Applying Intense Pulsed Light

A prism-like object is placed over the gel-coated site. Soon, flashes of intense light are projected through the prism-like object. The attending dermatologist ensures that the appropriate blend of intense pulses is used. This means treating different parts of the skin with light pulses differing in their wavelengths. This is done to ensure that there is minimal superficial damage to the skin and more pulsed light is concentrated upon the areas that need deeper penetration.

Usually, the dermatologist seeks the help of a pulsed light technician to ensure that the short bouts of pulsed light are controlled and that the duration of each pulse and delay between different pulses is accurate.

This is also the biggest advantage of an IPL therapy over laser treatments, i.e. the treatment can be personalized for each patient to minimize the side-effects and maximize the wanted results.

Immediate Recovery

The light-emitting equipment and the gel are systematically removed. The patient is generally asked to lie down for a few minutes, though IPL therapy doesn’t have any recovery period.

After a few minutes of resting, the attending cosmetologist checks for any signs of redness or inflammation on the skin. If the reddening of skin is a bit worrisome, simple aids like an ice-pack are recommended. The patient is reminded about basic precautions, like not exposing the treated skin to sunlight for long periods and the next, scheduled session.

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