Read more to check out 9 interesting and helpful facts about the technology behind intense pulsed light.
1. Intense Pulsed Light Is NOT A Laser
It’s a fairly popular belief that intense pulsed light (IPL) is a type of laser, but this isn’t the case. IPL uses a non-laser, high-intensity light emitted from a flashlamp.
Today, many IPL devices generate pulses of light through xenon flashlamps, including Lumecca, which is the modality we use. This light is noncoherent and exists within the 500 nm to 1,200 nm range.
Lumecca’s flashlamp allows it to use photo-thermolysis to pinpoint red and brown skin pigments.
2. Intense Pulsed Light Is Different From BroadBand Light
Another popular idea is that intense pulsed light is the exact same thing as BroadBand Light (BBL), but this is also not true.
While IPL and BBL function in a very similar way, some believe that BroadBand Light is superior to intense pulsed light since BBL provides a stronger treatment.
Proponents of BBL maintain that it’s the next step in the evolution of IPL technology.
What sets these two technologies apart is not only the strength of the treatment but also the range of conditions that can potentially be treated.
PL vs BBL
Intense pulsed light’s purpose is to target pigments in the skin to improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation, rosacea, and vascular lesions, among other things.
BBL is used to improve the same conditions that IPL does, but it offers unique advantages, the details of which run beyond the scope of this article.
To learn more about BBL, check out this study by the National Library of Medicine.
The best way to think of BBL is as “IPL on steroids.”
3. IPL Has Been Used Since 1996
Did you know that the first use of an IPL device dates back to 1996?
The first people to try IPL was a group of 80 patients who were dealing with treatment-resistant port wine stains. The treatment was reportedly successful.
Due to their usefulness, IPL devices have increased in popularity since the 90s.
Today, in addition to treating issues related to hyperpigmentation, IPL is used to improve the appearance of fine lines and lax skin.
The theory as to why IPL is able to tighten skin is that heating collagen fibers with high-intensity light makes them contract.
Additionally, higher wavelengths of IPL have been shown to initiate an increased synthesis of certain important proteins that help to replace lost dermal volume.
4. Lumecca IPL Uses A Sapphire Cooling Tip
We normally don’t think of gemstones being used in cosmetic devices, but sometimes they are.
Lumecca’s handpieces are a perfect example. They each use a sapphire cooling tip that is designed to make the treatments safe.
If you’re concerned about experiencing heat or pain during your treatment, reach out to us today at (310) 909-9747.
We can detail what you can expect based on our years of experience providing safe and minimally invasive services.
Pain and Discomfort During An IPL Treatment
Please note that IPL treatments may cause pain and discomfort.
Also, after your first treatment, you may experience swelling.
Swelling may be less likely to occur after your first session and more likely after your second and third sessions. This is not a hard and fast rule, just a general observation.
5. Intense Pulsed Light Is A Non-Ablative Treatment
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of ablative is as follows:
“Of, relating to, or being a grammatical case that typically marks a person, place, or thing from which someone or something else is separated.”
Keeping with this definition, a non-ablative treatment is one that doesn’t cause injury to the surface of the skin since the treatment doesn’t remove skin from the patient.
Non-ablative techniques like IPL can resurface your skin without removing tissue, which is a welcome approach in the world of cosmetics.
Side Note About CO2 Lasers
Interestingly, CO2 lasers (which are different from IPL) are ablative and remove the thin outer layer of your skin to achieve results.
Today, fractional lasers are commonly used for laser skin resurfacing. These types of laser use narrow and extremely small columns of light to target the skin in specific areas.
Fractional lasers are considered less destructive than their non-fractional counterparts.
6. IPL Has Been Shown To Effectively Treat Vascular Lesions
Discoloration caused by vascular lesions can be a source of emotional discomfort for those whose appearance has been affected.
If you have vascular lesions that you’ve thought were untreatable, the good news is that intense pulsed light therapy can target red and blue lesions and improve their appearance in many cases.
The way IPL accomplishes this is by raising blood vessel temperatures enough to cause coagulation, which removes vascular lesions and leads to the presence of fibrous granulation tissue.
IPL specifically targets oxyhemoglobin, methemoglobin, and deoxygenated hemoglobin.
7. Intense Pulsed Light Treats A Variety of Skin Conditions
When it comes to new skincare modalities, it’s always a good idea to ask your treatment provider for specifics about how they can help you.
Intense pulsed light can treat the following conditions:
- Vascular lesions
- Epidermal and dermal atrophy caused by photoaging
- Actinic keratosis
Additional Details About What IPL Treats
IPL treatment has also been shown to be particularly effective for superficial telangiectatic veins (spider veins).
Furthermore, IPL can be used to treat port wine stains, although its usefulness in this respect is still being studied.
A clinical analysis of port wine stains treated by intense pulsed light showed a reduction in port wine stain lesions.
8. Some IPL Sessions Can Be As Short As 10 Minutes
Not all IPL sessions take the same amount of time. In fact, an IPL session can be as short as 10 minutes, which makes them a convenient option.
The length of your IPL session will range anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour.
How long your session takes depends on how many areas you plan on treating.
While an hour might sound like a long time, we work hard to provide you with a comfortable and relaxing experience. Our medical spa is inviting, and our staff is friendly and conversational.
9. Lumecca IPL Was Created by InMode
InMode is the company behind Lumecca, which is why Lumecca offers some of the more advanced treatments in the field.
InMode focuses on creating state-of-the-art light, laser, and radiofrequency devices.
Lumecca has two types of handpieces—the 515 nm piece and the 580 nm piece.
The 515 nm piece has a range of 515 nm to 1,200 nm and is recommended for the treatment of vascular and pigmented lesions in Fitzpatrick skin types I-II.
The 580 nm piece has a range of 580 nm to 1,200 nm and is recommended for the treatment of vascular and pigmented lesions in Fitzpatrick skin types III-IV.
Both Lumecca handpieces can treat superficial vascular and pigmented lesions on Fitzpatrick skin types I to IV.
If you have questions, please call us for more details.
Schedule A Lumecca IPL Session
If you’re ready to schedule a Lumecca skin resurfacing session, reach out today at 323.310.1456 or visit our Contact page.
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About Mirror Mirror Med Spa
We are a Westwood LA medical spa dedicated to enhancing your appearance and increasing your self-confidence.
At Mirror Mirror Med Spa, we utilize top-of-the-line tools and provide safe, minimally invasive services to accomplish this aim.
We believe that every person has an inherent natural beauty that is unique to them. Our passion is highlighting and enhancing the unique features that make you who you are.
To ensure we provide you with excellent service, our treatment plans are customized to your needs and your skin type.
Further Reading: IPL vs Pulsed Dye Laser
According to Current Trends in Intense Pulsed Light by David J. Goldberg, MD:
“PL systems have been used effectively in the treatment of cavernous hemangiomas, venous and capillary malformations, facial and leg telangiectasias, and poikiloderma of Civatte.”
Compared to the pulsed dye laser, IPL is able to penetrate deeper into the skin.