IPL Treatments: How Lasers Actually Work To Boost Your Skin

by | Mar 30, 2023 | Skincare

You’ve thought about it, but never actually took the plunge to book an IPL treatment. After all, could it really be that revolutionary? Turns out, it totally can be. IPL treatments have elevated in success, from people mainly using it to remove hair. But it can do much more than that.

Intense Pulsed Light, or IPL, is a form of skin rejuvenation that’s non-surgical, non-invasive, and almost painless skin treatment, making it ideal for people wanting to get rid of pigmentation or signs of ageing.

According to the 2020 Plastic Surgery Report, which was released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, it’s one of the top five minimally invasive treatments.

“Using a computer-controlled device, the skin absorbs this light and converts it into heat, which then instils new life in the cellular tissues like elastin and collagen,” explains Dr  Alek Nikolic, aesthetic medicine specialist and owner of Aesthetic Facial Enhancement. Dr Nikolic explains that a technician uses a laser handpiece across your face to brighten skin tone, smooth skin texture, and minimize pores instantly.

Benefits of IPL Treatments

IPL treatments have a range of benefits but are commonly used to address hyperpigmentation (except Melasma), improve the skin’s glow and increase collagen and elastin. This treatment also has the ability to improve the appearance of rosacea, broken blood vessels and wrinkles. The ideal age to start IPL treatments is in your thirties.

While laser machines differ, different treatments require different wavelengths, explains Dr Nikolic. To combat hyperpigmentation, a derm might use a wavelength of 500 to 670. For protruding veins, something from 870 to 1200.

You’ll see results right after the first 30-minute session, but go for a few. The number of sessions you’ll need will depend on your skin’s needs. “But to give you an example of the number of treatments needed patients usually start seeing a gradual and cumulative improvement in the skin tone typically between three to five treatment sessions,” adds Dr Nikolic. Each treatment costs around R1600 for a full face.   

What about side effects?

While you can achieve great results with IPL treatments, it’s important to note that there is a risk of hyperpigmentation in dark skin tones. Those with fair to medium skin are the most suitable candidates for this treatment. If you’re IPL-curious, it’s best to chat with a professional, who can advise the best course of treatment for you.

“This treatment is relatively painless and done quickly. It also comes with hardly any downtime. Patients may however experience some redness that could be mistaken for not wearing sunscreen,” says Dr Nikolic.

Before the treatment, Dr Nikolic advises that patients should avoid the following:

  • Using retinol tropical at least five days before the treatment.
  • Fractional laser treatment three weeks before the treatment.
  • Dermapen or needling treatments four weeks before your treatment.

Lastly, if you’re looking to do laser treatment, try scheduling these in cooler months, when sun exposure is at its lowest. This also helps calm hyperpigmentation that commonly results from sun exposure.

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