Intense Pulsed Light (IPL Photofacial)

Treats sun damage, dark spots, unwanted blood vessels, and rosacea.  No downtime

IPL treatments are specifically tailored to treat pigmented skin blotches and patches associated with aging and sun damage, as well as troublesome spider veins, broken capillaries, and flushing associated with Rosacea.  Active filtering technology allows us to selectively target melanin (the skin pigment that causes brown spots), as well as selectively target superficial blood vessels in the upper layers of the skin, and deeper blood vessels as well. A series of 3-5 treatments may be required for stubborn areas, but improvement is noticed after each treatment. There is minimal discomfort, and topical numbing creams are not required. There may be some mild flaking and pink quality to the skin after the treatment, but there is no downtime and patients can return to normal activity the same day.   IPL treatments are often repeated 3-4 times per year to maintain the youthful appearance of the skin.  Note: Dark spots will often become much darker (like coffee grounds) after treatment before they flake off, so a high quality coverup product is a good idea.

More information about IPL

Intense pulsed light has been around for many years, but the technology is constantly evolving.  We use one of the most advanced systems on the market, which actively cools the skin during treatment to protect against dangerous burns.  The system can be used in Skin Rejuvenation mode (to target dark spots), Vascular reduction mode (to target unwanted redness and blood vessels), Hair reduction mode (to reduce unwanted hair), and Acne reduction mode to specifically target the p. acnes  bacteria responsible for acne vulgaris.  IPL is actually different than laser (although it may often be referred to as laser to avoid confusion.  This is because a laser contains just one wavelength (color) of light, while IPL contains a filtered range of wavelengths of light.  Each wavelength range targets different molecules within the skin, and different filters make it more effective for each of the above treatments.  The IPL photofacial uses both the SR and VR filters to reduce unwanted pigment and unwanted redness.  One of the more unique features of our system is the ability to make it a more comfortable, or a more aggressive treatment by the addition of a pulse train feature.  This means that we can deliver the same total energy in several short bursts, which allows heat to dissipate within the skin reducing pain and reducing risk for burn.

Skin rejuvenation (part of the IPL photofacial)

The Skin Rejuvenation function is also called the IPL Photofacial.  IPL, or intense pulsed light is also synonymous with BBL or broadband light, which is a brand name treatment from another manufacturer.  This is our most common laser treatment at Dubuque ENT.  Patients experience fantastic results!  The SR filter selects for wavelengths between 540nm and 1200 nm, which is optimal to treat pigment without wasting energy on other structures.  A cool crystal touches the skin, cooling the surface layers and protecting against burns.  The light energy passes in a very short pulse, and the energy is absorbed by the melanin in the skin, causing superheating.  This damages the melanosomes, which are the pigment containing cells, which  rupture.  The skin’s other cells then engulf this pigment and shuttle it to the surface where it is expelled.  What this means for the patient, is that the dark spots get darker as they absorb energy.  This can occur immediately, or in a delayed manner over many days.  Subsequently, the dark spots may completely or partially flake off.  If they only partially flake off, they are targeted again at the next treatment one month later.  We also use other lasers like the KTP 532 laser and the Q-Switch laser to remove unwanted pigmented lesions.

Vascular reduction (part of the IPL photofacial)

Rosacea is a very common skin condition that we treat using IPL.  Patients with rosacea experience flushing of the skin, and unwanted redness.  This can be embarassing and uncomfortable.  Additionally, patients without rosacea may have “spider veins” or “broken blood vessels” or even just unwanted redness.  The VR filter selects light from 510-1200nm, optimizing absorbtion to hemoglobin, which is the target within blood cells.  You will notice that there is some crossover with the SR filter, and that is okay due to the strong preference of light to absorb in the blood vessels.  During the treatment, the strong burst of light causes injury to the wall of the blood vessel due to heating of the hemoglobin.  This can cause the blood vessel to vaporize, or to progressively clot off.  The body has a tendancy to re-open injured blood vessels (this is how we heal!), so because of this multiple treatments are required to injure the blood vessel enough to cause it to stay away permanantly.  After treatment, patients are mildly red and may experience mild stinging which usually fades after a couple of hours.  We also use other vascular lasers, like the KTP 532 nm laser and the Long-pulsed Nd:YAG laser to treat unwanted blood vessels on the face and body.

Hair reduction

With the simple change of a filter, a quick hair removal treatment can be done at the same time as a photofacial.  This IPL treatment selects wavelengths from 650-1200nm.  While the 810 diode “fast hair removal” laser is our preferred method of laser hair removal, we sometimes use IPL as well for this purpose.  For more information about laser hair removal, please visit the laser hair removal page.  Patients may expect a snapping sensation with treatment, and may expect some redness and stinging after treatment.

Acne reduction

Our acne filter selects wavelengths from 450-1200nm, treating the “blue light” spectrum.  These blue wavelengths are selectively absorbed by protoporphorin IX, which is a molecule produced by the p. acnes bacteria responsible for acne.  Using the same principle as other targets, the light is absorbed by the target, heating that area selectively and killing the bacteria.  Patients experience an immediate reduction of acne symptoms.  Treatment is gentle with no to minimal discomfort, and there is no downtime.  Like all good things, however, treatment is temporary and would likely need repeated for sustained results.  This treatment is great before an important social event to reduce unwanted acne.

Dubuque ENT IPL Instructions (click)