Fine lines and sun damage are part of the aging process that make many of us dissatisfied with the way our skin looks. Television and print media are filled with options that seem too good to be true. Though the market is crowded with anti-aging treatments, many of which do not work nor provide a lasting benefit, photorejuvenation is one of the safest and most efficient ways to revitalize your skin and create a more lasting, youthful skin appearance. The effectiveness of this technology is published in a peer review journal (Kulick, Michael. “Using Intense Pulsed Light Technology in a Plastic Surgery Practice.” Aesthetic Surgery Journal. Jan./Feb. 2001.).

If you’re considering improving your appearance via photorejuvenation, you may be curious about how the process works, who is a good candidate and what to expect during and after the procedure.

In this article, we’ll provide an overview of photorejuvenation also called IPL.

What Is Photorejuvenation?

Photorejuvenation is a non-invasive, relatively low-risk treatment that can reduce skin discoloration, lessens pore size, while improving overall skin texture. To date, this is the best method that simultaneously reduces both unwanted red and brown spots of the skin during each treatment.

Photorejuvenation uses a technology called Intense Pulse Light (IPL), with or without radio frequency energy, to reveal healthier-looking skin. Because the treatment doesn’t disrupt the surface of the skin, there’s no need for a lengthy recovery time, and patients can return to work and resume all their normal activities shortly after undergoing the procedure. Post treatment redness is usually gone within 4-6 hours after treatment.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Photorejuvenation?

If you are in good overall health, have unwanted skin redness or hyperpigmentation and realistic expectations, you are most likely a good candidate for this procedure. Photorejuvenation is an optimal treatment for people who want to improve the look of their skin, but do not want to deal with the recovery of a more aggressive laser treatment.

Photorejuvenation can help address frustrating skin problems such as:

  • Rosacea
  • Hyperpigmentation, or brown spots
  • Mottled skin
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Texture problems
  • Large, visible pores
  • Freckles
  • Age and sun spots
  • Broken capillaries
  • Spider veins
  • Stretch marks

People with darker complexions can be successfully treated with this technology. It does require the treater have a greater level of expertise as photorejuvenation may cause hyperpigmentation issues.

What Does the IPL Treatment Entail?

Photorejuvenation relies on a unique device, which provides pulses of bright, intense light that focus on various levels of the skin to improve the skin’s appearance. In the hands of a skilled clinician, this light energy can be directed towards the specific problem – red vs. brown by changing the wavelength of the light delivered.

Unlike other cosmetic surgery procedures that create a more youthful appearance by making superficial changes to your skin, IPL treatments help you look younger by creating inflammation around the unwanted skin issue and allows one’s body to eliminate the problem. This inflammatory response can also boost your body’s natural ability to regenerate collagen. When the IPL device heats up the collagen beneath the skin’s surface, it stimulates the skin to produce more of this beneficial protein, which in certain settings can provide lasting improvement in fine wrinkles.

What Can I Expect During and After the IPL Treatment?

During IPL treatment, a cold gel or cool tip hand-piece is usually applied to the area to be treated, and you’ll wear an eye mask to protect your eyes from the bright light. The hand-piece is gently pressed to the problem area you wish to treat, and pulses of bright light will flash sending the therapeutic energy into the skin.

At the end of the treatment, the nurse or doctor cleans the area with a gentle cloth and applies a moisturizer with sunscreen. If you experience any mild swelling, you might be given a cold pack to apply for a few minutes.

Leading board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Kulick will perform the IPL treatments at his San Francisco office. The number of undesirable skin conditions being treated and the severity of the skin damage will determine the number of treatments recommended, but generally, most patients see significant improvement after four to six IPL sessions.

The length of the IPL session depends on the size of the area being treated; most treatments last 20 to 30 minutes. If you have additional concerns such as moderate to severe skin wrinkling, Dr. Kulick may also recommend complementary skin treatments, such as laser skin resurfacing.

In general, photorejuvenation is very safe and only causes mild discomfort during treatment. Many patients report feeling a minor sting during treatment, similar to a small rubber band being snapped against their skin. It is very rare to experience any discomfort 15 minutes after the treatment. As your skin’s appearance begins to improve with each session, the treatments usually become even more comfortable as the “problems” being addressed are eliminated. If you have a lot of unwanted brown spots on your skin, you may experience small “pepper sized” dark spots on your skin during the week after your first treatments. Relax, this is how these unwanted brown spots are removed via normal skin exfoliation.

One of the key advantages of IPL treatments is that you can return to work the same day and resume all of your regular activities, though it is very important to protect the treated area from sunlight. If desired, you can wear makeup starting right after treatment, as long as you apply and remove it carefully and gently. Refrain from having any ancillary topical treatments such as glycolic acid or alpha hydroxyl acid chemical peels until your sessions are completed.

Dr. Kulick can perform photorejuvenation anywhere on the body to provide gradual, relatively long-lasting improvements in skin’s texture and appearance, with very low risk and very little downtime.

One satisfied patient said, “My coworkers all want to know where I went on vacation because I came back looking so rested. Little did they know! The wrinkles from years of sun exposure – gone! The acne scars that tormented me as an adult – gone! People think I’m much younger than my 42 years.”

Is photorejuvenation right for you? Schedule a consultation with Dr. Kulick today.