A recent article in Med Esthetics talks about the benefits of IPL (intense pulsed light). According to Dr. Michael Gold of the Gold Skin Care Center in Nashville, IPL is still the #1 treatment for skin rejuvenation and photodamage in fair skin because it covers vascular concerns, pigmentation problems and stimulates collagen production. So if you have photodamaged skin with some wrinkling, some red spots and some brown spots, there is no other device that will treat all those concerns simultaneously. With lasers, all these would have to be treated separately. IPL can not be done on dark skin like African Americans as it can cause permanent hypopigmentation.
Benefits of IPL have been published extensively, including in 2012 by Stanford University in Journal Of Investigative Dermatology and in 2016 in the Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy. Due to the heat that is generated, IPL offers some collagen stimulation, temporary pore size reduction, some overall skin plumping and a reduction in fine lines. However, skin sagging and deep lines need to be treated with something like Ultherapy and fillers.
Thanks to its ability to target redness, IPL is widely used to treat the diffuse redness and broken blood vessels of rosacea. IPL has become the first line of treatment for both pigmentation and melasma in Asia and is widely used for these in the U.S. as well. There isn't really a cure for melasma, but combining IPL with skin products containing 4% hydroquinone and an occasional medical grade chemical peel, you can successfully treat melasma. IPL can also be used both alone or as a light source for photodynamic therapy (PDT) to treat acne. I prefer to use IPL, chemical peels and a few targeted skin products to treat acne before I refer to dermatology for Accutane. We also use our IPL device for hair removal on the face, especially on the upper lip and chin.
One big advantage of IPL is it can be used all over the body and is very popular for the chest, arms, back, shoulders and hands. I have always touted that your hands will tell your age, regardless of the age of your face! In the U.S., IPL is very popular for the treatment of Poikiloderma of Civatte, which is actually dilated blood vessels in the dermis and pigment deposition into the dermis. It is most common on the neck and chest. IPL can treat both problems of poikiloderma.
Anne R Trussell MD
Sei Bella Med Spa