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What Is IPL Photofacial?

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  • Written By: Anna T.
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2014
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An IPL photofacial is a cosmetic procedure for reducing or eliminating the appearance of acne scars, broken capillaries, and many other skin problems. IPL stands for intense pulsed light, and refers to the unique type of laser a doctor uses to perform this procedure. The IPL laser shoots out a broad beam of lasers into the skin at a very rapid pace. These lasers penetrate the inner layer of the skin, but do not typically affect the outer layer. For this reason, most IPL photofacials require little to no recovery time.

There are many other possible benefits relating to an IPL photofacial in addition to short recovery time. Unlike many other types of laser therapy, the IPL photofacial is minimally painful. Many patients say the procedure feels like a rubber band snapping against the skin over and over and that it is only slightly uncomfortable. People who have a very low tolerance for pain can request that a topical anesthetic be applied prior to the procedure. Most patients can also resume their daily activities immediately after the procedure with only a small amount of skin redness, which may be easily covered up with foundation.

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An IPL photofacial doesn't typically produce the desired results in one session. Most of the time up to six sessions may be needed before improvements to the skin are complete, with small improvements noticeable after each session. Many doctors recommend spacing the treatments out by about three weeks so the inner layer of the skin can heal. There is no guarantee that this type of laser therapy will completely eliminate skin problems, but in many cases it will greatly improve them. The treatment may be ineffective against very deep wrinkles and acne scarring.

The IPL photofacial procedure is normally less expensive than most other forms of laser therapy. These treatments vary in price depending on the provider and possibly the geographic location. The price may also vary for different parts of the body and by how extensive the skin problems are that need treatment.

Side effects of an IPL photofacial include skin discoloration, bruising, and minor redness. Most of the time, these side effects are minor and temporary. Avoiding excessive sun exposure prior to the procedure may help prevent skin discoloration. Some side effects may be worse if a patient is taking certain prescription medications. It is important for a person to make sure his or her doctor knows his or her complete medical history, including medications taken in the present and past, before undergoing an IPL photofacial.

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