I first heard about IPL lasers a few years ago from my daughter-in-law. She had a few treatments prior to her wedding and was happy with the results. Even though we have different skin types, and desired different results, I became curious about what an IPL laser could do for my own skin’s appearance.
I’m somewhat lucky as my skin type is fair, but I can tolerate sun exposure without burning. However, after years of being in the sun I’ve acquired brown spots and uneven skin tone. I felt that the brown spots and discoloration aged my skin. This bothered me enough to investigate the IPL laser treatment. Personally, I feel that at 62 years old, facials are not enough to improve the appearance of my skin and keep my complexion looking resilient. If you want to keep your skin looking good, then you need to pay attention to your skin’s needs as it changes with age.
No matter what your skin type, there are many available options to choose from without having invasive surgery. Investigate by finding a dermatologist that you trust and express your concerns. We all have different skin and therefore we will have different needs. Lasers have become a very popular way to bring back a youthful appearance to aging skin.
What is an IPL Laser?
IPL stands for intense pulsed light. It’s a treatment that will help to lighten up age spots and improve the texture of your skin. The treatment is non-surgical. It is otherwise known as a photo facial.
How Does it Work
Pulses of light target brown spots and skin imperfections without harming the surrounding skin. This will cause them to darken and scab off. It will probably take about ten to fourteen days for them to heal completely and diminish.
What Are the Results
Of course, this will vary depending on your skin’s condition, but overall one to three treatments are recommended for clearer smoother looking skin.
Prior to the appointment you need to be out of the sun for at least two weeks and no sun exposure afterwards for two weeks. This meaning the best time to do an IPL laser would be in fall or winter.
My Personal Experience
About a week before my appointment I choose to avoid any type of nightly retinol creams. This was my own decision as I felt that doing so would cause less irritation. My daughter-in-law had recommended her dermatologist to me. I set up my appointment in the morning and arrived without any make-up on. The medical aesthetician performing the procedure was Kayette. I really liked her. She immediately made me feel comfortable and took time to go over any questions or concerns that I had. The only step prior to starting with the laser was washing my face. They do not numb you, so be prepared to feel discomfort during the procedure.
Does it Hurt?
YES IT DOES HURT! Kay informed me that it would feel like a rubber band snapping at my face and that is just what it felt like with each individual zap of light. There were a few times I needed a break in between so that I could better tolerate the pain. The treatment lasted about thirty minutes.
When she was finished, I felt like my face was on fire. She had fore warned me ahead of time that it would feel like a bad sunburn and that was exactly how it felt. I was expecting to see redness when I looked in the mirror but surprisingly my face was just a little flushed. There wasn’t any bruising however, I did have a small amount of swelling. I was given individual ice packs for the swelling and to comfort the burning sensation. Afterwards, there really wasn’t much downtime. That very evening, I went out to dinner with friends and no one even noticed.
What to Expect Afterwards
I was given an instruction sheet to follow which was helpful. The burning sensation only lasted a couple of hours. The minor swelling lasted a couple of days. After two days my brown spots appeared darker. This was more obvious than I expected but it’s normal for them to darken before they scab and flake off. It took approximately two weeks for the brown spots to disappear completely. You can use make up to cover up and camouflage the spots but need to avoid harsh scrubs and retinol. You will also need to stay out of direct sun light. The spots will come back if you do not take the precautions and diligently use sun protection.
After two weeks my skin’s appearance had improved. Much of the unevenness and discoloration had diminished. I was very happy with my results. I did not set up a second appointment because of some personal scheduling conflicts, however I would recommend getting at least two treatments in the beginning.
I will certainly have a photo facial again. I like to play golf and even though I use sunscreen, given the amount of time I’m in the sun, and my age, the discoloration reappears. I feel that in order to maintain a more even skin tone I will need to do an IPL treatment at least once a year for maintenance.
How Much Will it Cost
Where I chose to go the cost was around $270 for my face only. Had I chosen to do my neck the cost would have been more. Of course, the price will vary depending on the dermatologist office and how much of a specific area they will be working on.
Overall, I give the IPL laser a thumbs up. Although there was discomfort, each painful zap reminded me to be diligent about reapplying sunscreen.
Information on IPL lasers was gathered from CynoSure, the site and brand of the laser used during my visit.