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IPL Photofacial Side Effects

One of today's most popular cosmetic laser treatments is IPL Photofacial or photorejuvenation. Its intense pulsed light technology has become a well-known, effective solution for rosacea, age spots, sun damage, fine lines, spider veins, acne and even hair removal. But in spite of the treatment's popularity, there are still risks and side effects involved with IPL Photofacial, and many patients are curious about their susceptibility to these risks.

How Does IPL work?

It's easier to understand and avoid IPL side effects if you first understand how IPL works. IPL technology uses beams of intense pulsed light to target specific skin areas for treatment. The IPL laser uses a full spectrum of light wavelengths, as opposed to the single wavelength used in most standard laser treatments for hair removal, skin rejuvenation and skin tightening.

The IPL light beam is altered through the use of different filters, which can change the intensity of the laser. The IPL's laser light is focused on hyperpigmented spots on the skin, or individual hair follicles, and then uses the process of photothermolysis to treat skin with combined light and heat energy.

For skin rejuvenation, IPL lasers penetrate deeper into the dermis skin layers and use light and heat to energize skin cells, boost collagen production and improve skin's regenerative abilities. IPL for hair removal utilizes light energy to lock onto individual hair pigments and disintegrate hair shafts at the root.

Common IPL Side Effects

For patients who are new to laser skin care, the prospect of zapping skin and hair with a laser sounds a little frightening. However, the most common side effects reported with IPL treatments are both minor and temporary:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Light bruising
  • Itching
  • Peeling
  • Scabbing

Some patients, typically with darker skin or specific skin conditions, have reported more serious IPL side effects such as burning, blistering and scarring.

Avoiding IPL Side Effects

While there is always some risk involved with cosmetic treatments, you can greatly improve your odds for successful results and help to avoid IPL side effects by:

  • Following all pre and post IPL treatment guidelines
  • Always having your IPL treatments administered by an experienced skin care professional

Additionally, individuals who are pregnant, who are taking certain medications like Accutane or Isotretinoin (which increase skin's light sensitivity), and those who have skin infections will all be more prone to IPL side effects and poor treatment results. Many skin care providers may deny patients IPL treatment if they are found to meet these or other criteria that could jeopardize a patient's safety.

Before undergoing an IPL Photofacial treatment, for skin rejuvenation or for hair removal, it's best to meet with a trusted cosmetic provider to ask procedure questions, to learn what to expect with treatment, and to determine if you are an appropriate candidate for IPL laser treatments.

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