As we grow older, we see noticeable brown spots and small irregular blood vessels developing on our face, neck and chest area (also called the colletage). These changes are worsened by sun exposure. Many people call these pigmented areas age spots, some call them sun damage. They are changes that make us look older, but we can fight the development of these and treat these changes by using new technology called IPL, or intense pulsed light.

Called Photofacial anti-aging treatment, this new non-surgical skin care treatment uses the power of waves of high intensity light to reduce or remove age spots, broken blood vessels, tiny spider veins, and other aging changes with minimal or no down time. It is considered a lunch time facial treatment and one can resume normal work and activities immediately. Plus the results are fabulous, as one can see below.

Photofacial Treatment of the face: Before and After

Photofacial Treatment of the colletage: Before and After

Performed in our office, Photofacials using the IPL do not require a topical anesthetic, are quick, and yet are very effective. These treatments can freshen aging and sun damaged skin to a more uniform color appearance. Usually, a series of these treatments are necessary to give the best results. In addition, one must continue to develop good skin care habits to help maintain these skin improvements as one continues to age.

Continual care of the skin includes a daily topical sun block. The brown spots (age spots) are caused by pigment that is produced by the skin to protect the skin from the harmful effects of the sun, specifically from ultraviolet (UV) rays. In addition, the tiny irregular and broken blood vessels that appear on the skin are in response to the skin injury by the sun. The new blood vessels grow to bring more blood into the facial skin to help repair the damages the sun had caused.

Unfortunately, we continue to see these pigmented and red irregular vascular spots on our face and they give our skin an aged variegated appearance that we call dyschromia, or the sign of facial aging. Luckily, we don’t have to surrender to these aging changes because there is something we can do about them.

Photofacial skin care treatments using the IPL are the non-surgical anti-aging skin care treatment of choice for benign facial skin pigmentations, sun-damaged brown spots and irregular tiny vascular lesions. The treatments can be done on the face, hands, neck, colletage, or where ever such age-damage has occurred. They are the preferred treatment for these problems over laser treatments.

Many people have heard of using laser treatments on the face. These are also called resurfacing procedures and utilize high energy lasers. They result in significant downtime and do provide good results. However, they can also result in excess bleached discoloration of the skin in patches which are not normally seen by using the IPL. In addition, lasers result in significant downtime and many potential problems.

IPL Photofacial treatments utilize a bright flash of visible light, like the light from a flash camera, to fade and remove the pigment and blood vessels without using a laser. The pulsed light is less powerful and less dangerous than laser light, so it is a safer technique. You don’t have to hide away in your house while your facial skin sloughs off for two to four weeks with the IPL versus the laser. It is a much wiser choice for most people.

The IPL works like this: the energy of a specific wavelength of light from the IPL machine is absorbed by the colored areas of the skin, such as pigment and blood vessels, which heat these areas and destroy the pigment and blood vessels. The body then clears these problem areas that have been destroyed. More collagen is stimulated to form and the skin color returns to a more uniform color throughout, resulting in a more youthful appearance.

This process of utilizing the energy of a wavelength of light to destroy abnormal changes of the skin is called Target Specific Photothermolysis. A specific target, i.e. a colored pigment or small blood vessel, is heated (thermo) with a light beam (photo) and dissolved or destroyed (lysis). Since the specific wavelength hits only certain colors, it is considered “Target Specific”. It therefore leaves the normal skin undamaged.

Performing the Photofacial is an easy office based process. Since the procedure causes minimal discomfort, anesthesia or numbing medicine is generally not required. When the light hits the skin, one feels a small sting but is easily tolerated. Moreover, unlike many non-medical spas, we utilize the anesthetizing power of cooling and ice during the procedure through a special instrument that makes the process almost painless.

Immediately after the procedure, many people notice the pigmented areas are darker. They may also be slightly pink for a few hours. This is because the pigmented areas absorbed the light which makes them appear darker. Over time, the absorbed light energy causes the destruction of the pigment and thus these areas lighten and fade over time. The more times these areas are hit by the IPL, the more the fading occurs.

Usually 3 or more Photofacial skin care treatments are required to produce the best results. These are spaced at 4-6 week intervals. Multiple treatments are necessary to allow the pigments to be destroyed gently without the pain, sloughing injury and potential scarring to the skin that would be seen with the laser. The results are worth the wait and the effort of multiple visits.

Over time, one sees continual improvement of the areas treated. Generally one will see the results of a Photofacial skin care treatment at 4 to 6 weeks. Brown, aging spots are lighter or gone, and red spots or blood vessels will be much smaller or even gone. The effects are best in people with thin skin and very light pigment.

The best Photofacial or IPL technology is found in physicians offices that specialize in aesthetics or cosmetic procedures. Many spas use machines that are less powerful because they are not allowed to have the more powerful ones. Medical grade machines give the best results and these are the treatments recommended.

Such improved Photofacial based technology can also be used for medical purposes, such as Rosacea and Acne. These conditions should be treated in a doctor’s office to get the best results. In addition, your skin can be evaluated for more serious skin problems in a physician’s office, and you will receive more effective Photofacial skin care treatments there too. A doctor who has received special advanced training in anti-aging skin care and aesthetics is the best source for light based skin rejuvenation treatment, such as Dr. True. Call our office today to find out more about this anti-aging facial treatment or to schedule an appointment.

“Enhancing your natural beauty is our passion…”

Robert L. True, MD, FACOG, AACS Colleyville, TX 817-399-TRUE

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