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Intense pulsed light (IPL) photorejuvenation treatments use pulses of multiple wavelengths of light to treat skin pigmentation conditions caused by sun exposure, aging, or other factors.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there were 621,724 IPL treatments performed in the United States in 2014.
Choosing IPL Treatments
Patients choose IPL treatments if they want to treat skin conditions such as:
- Age spots
- Spider veins
- Facial wrinkles
- Excessive flushing
- Broken capillaries
- Brown spots (hyperpigmentation)
- Large pores
- Stretch marks
- Texture conditions
Photorejuvenation can also be used for hair removal.
IPL treatments will correct skin conditions and will stimulate the production of collagen and elastin to plump and freshen the skin.
IPL treatments are often confused with laser treatments. IPL treatments use multiple wavelengths (or colors) to treat the skin, while lasers, use a single wavelength.
IPL machines use special filters that help the light waves penetrate skin without using excessive energy levels, which allows the treatment to target specific chromophores, or parts of the skin cell that are responsible for color. Doctors can use different IPL machines to focus on different skin problems. Photorejuvenation usually involves a series of 3-5 treatments, one every three to six weeks.
The average cost of a single face treatment of IPL is between $300 and $500. A series of three to five treatments will cost up to $2,500. Costs will increase for larger areas of skin like the neck and chest.
Patients will usually need to pay for IPL treatments out of pocket because most insurance companies do not cover elective cosmetic procedures.
IPL treatments target the lower layers of the skin (dermis). Patients should feel no more than a light stinging on the skin, like the snapping a small rubber band, during the procedure. While anesthetics are not required for this procedure, some doctors may give patients numbing creams to apply 30-60 minutes before the procedure to make the patient more comfortable.
There are many different types of IPL machines that focus on different chromophores in the skin to produce different results. These machines can be used for vascular lesions (like spider veins, thread veins, and birthmarks), for pigmented lesions (like age spots, freckles, and other skin discolorations), or for hair removal.
Some IPL machines, especially those used at non-medical locations like day spas—will be used for multiple purposes. Many skin conditions will require more targeted therapies. Ask your health care professional about the types of available treatments.
To begin the treatment, patients will be given dark glasses or eye masks that will protect their eyes from the light used in IPL. The doctor will press an IPL device to targeted areas of the skin. The light emitted from the device will treat specific conditions by heating up collagen under the skin to fill wrinkles, by heating pigment cells to cause fragmentations and reabsorption, or by collapsing blood vessels to force the body to reabsorb them.
IPL treatments usually take between 30 and 90 minutes to complete. Patients will be given sunscreen to protect the skin, and they will be free to return to their usual daily activities. Skin conditions may appear worse or more prominent after the treatment, but will improve within one week.
Depending on the state, a doctor, physician assistant, registered nurse, medical associate, or licensed aesthetician will be able to perform the treatment.
Healthcare professionals recommend regular treatments of IPL every 6-12 months to maintain results.
Risks of IPL Treatments
- Dark or pale patches of skin (hypopigmentation)
- Hair loss
- Damage to surrounding anatomy
- Unsatisfactory results
Doctors should discuss all material risks of IPL with patients before patients consent to the procedure.
Medical Malpractice and IPL Treatments
While IPL treatments have few serious risks and are non-invasive treatments, unskilled heath care professionals can cause serious burns, scars, and other permanent disfigurement. IPL treatments are offered in a variety of medical and non-medical settings, and can be performed by a variety of health care professionals both licensed and unlicensed.
If you or a loved one suffered serious or permanent injuries during an IPL treatment, you may be eligible for compensation. The attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian have years of experience representing patients like you.
Our law firm offers free consultations. Call (800) 529-6162 today to schedule a free consultation.