How Sun Damage Impacts Your Appearance
When I see a patient for an anti-aging skin rejuvenation evaluation, the first thing I look at is the quality of the skin. Spots, broken blood vessels, large pores, roughness, growths, milia cysts, brown discoloration, scars, acne scars, elastosis, fine lines, wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and dullness all decrease the quality of the skin. Most of these are from chronic sun damage, and the problem is that it takes anywhere from 5-30 years for these changes to show up on your skin. So even when the patient is currently practicing better sun protection, these changes continue to show up from past sun exposure.
Young skin is smooth, without blemishes, growths, cysts, brown spots, broken blood vessels, and elastosis. It has good elasticity and reflects light well giving it a glowing luminosity. Interestingly studies have shown that people's impression of the age of another person is primarily determined by the absence of spots, growths and the presence of luminosity. In other words a person with spots and growths but minimal wrinkles looks older than a person with few spots and more wrinkles. That's why it is so important in anti-aging skin treatment to "clear the canvas and start over".
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Sun Damage Treatment
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) photorejuvenation is a light treatment that improves sun damaged skin: age spots, brown spots, discoloration, redness, broken blood vessels, freckles, fine wrinkling and rosacea. An in-office treatment, pulses of specific wavelengths of light are given to the skin to improve these problems. The light is selectively absorbed by "targets", melanin (brown discoloration) and hemoglobin (in blood vessels). The target heats up and is destroyed while surrounding skin is unaffected, allowing selective removal of brown and red discolorations and abnormal blood vessels in sun damage treatment. The procedure is safe enough that sun damaged areas on the neck, chest, arms and backs of the hands may also be treated.
IPL Rosacea Treatment
In rosacea, the small blood vessels in the face and neck are abnormally reactive, giving redness, flushing, blushing, and broken and enlarged veins. IPL rosacea light treatment treats these small blood vessels that are abnormally reactive, improving the redness, blushing, flushing and spider veins improving your appearance and reducing sensitivity.
IPL/PDT for More Improvement
IPL/PDT Photodynamic Therapy is IPL treatment with the addition of a medication applied before treatment to also treat pre-malignant sun damage and benign oil gland growths. IPL/PDT is used when sun damage changes are more pronounced, with pre-cancerous Actinic Keratosis (AK's) as an alternative to liquid nitrogen freezing of individual areas. This allows treatment of these pre-cancerous AK's with less change in pigment and white spots than after liquid nitrogen freezing treatment, allows early treatment of areas that will show up later, and also improves the cosmetic changes that are present. Photodynamic therapy also improves the benign oil gland growths, called sebaceous hyperplasia, that appear as little yellow-orange growths on the skin. Face, chest, arms and hands may be treated.
By combining medical treatment of pre-cancerous changes with cosmetic treatment significant improvement is gained. IPL/PDT Photodynamic therapy treats the rough precancerous actinic keratosis, reduces broken capillaries, redness, brown pigment, age spots, freckles, and fine lines on the face, neck, chest, arms and hands. It gives you a clearer skin tone with reduced redness, veins, and brown spots.
Before Photorejuvenation Procedures
Use broad spectrum sunscreen every day and avoid sun exposure for 3 weeks before treatment. Some patients are also asked to use bleaching cream. Certain oral or topical medications increase light sensitivity and may need to be temporarily discontinued. IPL or IPL/PDT may not be used if you are/have: pregnant, using medication which prohibits exposure to sun, porphyria, iron storage disorders, seizures, or photosensitivity diseases such as Lupus, so be sure to discuss these with your dermatologist.
About IPL Photorejuvenation
Number of Treatments— typically a series of 3 sessions, but varies from 1-5 treatments scheduled at 4 week intervals for best results Most patients show improvement starting with the first treatment.
Discomfort— surface anesthetic is used to reduce discomfort, which feels similar to brief mild "grease pop".
Time to See Results— improvement starts in 5 days on the face, 3 weeks on the neck, chest, arms or hands.
Duration of Results— much of the results are permanent if the skin is sun protected. New areas may develop with sun exposure. You may need intermittent maintenance treatments to maintain optimum results. New discolorations may develop over time especially if there is continued sun exposure. Additional treatments may be given if desired.
Recovery Time/Side Effects— there is little or no downtime and most patients resume their normal activities immediately after treatment. Brown spots darken and peel off in 5 days on the face, 3 weeks on other areas. Patients who have a moderate amount of redness, flushing or dilated blood vessels may experience several days of redness and occasionally bruising. Rarely crusting, blistering, or scabbing occurs. Treated area can turn darker or lighter than surrounding skin, may take several months to fade or rarely be permanent. There is a very small chance of scarring. There is a possibility of temporary or permanent, partial or complete hair loss if beard or mustache area is treated. Treatment over permanent makeup may change its color. Patients with tanned skin and patients whose ethnic ancestry includes darkly pigmented skin have an increased risk of complications.
About IPL/PDT Photorejuvenation
Number of Treatments—usually 1-3 treatments, spread at least 4-6 weeks apart.
Discomfort— treatment is more uncomfortable than IPL alone, but tolerable. Numbing cream is used and oral pain and/or anxiety medication can be prescribed, if desired.
Time to See Results—improvement starts in 1-2 weeks on face, 3-6 weeks on other areas.
Duration of Results—much of the results are permanent, new areas may develop over time from past sun exposure.
Recovery Time/Side Effects—mild to moderate burning or stinging, which lasts up to 24 hours, and swelling, redness, and tightness for several days. Flaking, crusting or blisters may occur, usually healing in 5-7 days. You will be sensitive to all forms of light, including sunlight, sunlight through car window glass, and indoor light for 72 hours after treatment