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Intense Pulse Light Treatments Can Help Face, Hands, Neck, Chest, Legs

As we age, those little dark spots, redness and wrinkles frustrate and confound.

Women spend an incredible amount of time trying to counteract the effects of the sun, age, weather and more. Intense pulse light photofacial treatments are one of the ways women are fighting back.

This type of photofacial emits a high intensity broad band blast of light at high energy levels to the skin through a hand-held device. It delivers to the deeper part of the dermis while the epidermis layer or surface layer is untouched.

Intense pulse light photofacials are used to treat a variety of skin conditions such as hyperpigmentation (brown spots), sun damage, broken capillaries, spider veins and facial redness. Treatment takes on average 20 to 30 minutes with no real downtime.

Although a numbing cream can be applied, and some devices have cooling aspects, it can still be uncomfortable or even painful depending on your tolerance level. Think of someone snapping a rubber band onto your skin. The first intense pulse light device was FDA approved in 1995 to treat dilated blood vessels, aka spider veins.

Although not its main purpose, the light treatment can also stimulate collagen production and improve signs of aging, like fine lines and wrinkles.

Treatments can be done on the face, hands, neck, chest and legs. The head size of the device is usually larger than most laser spot sizes, which allows for rapid treatment of large areas.

Be aware, though, that most people need a series of treatments to see optimal results, which are usually performed three to four weeks apart.

Intense pulse light treatments also can improve skin texture, reduce the appearance of freckles and reduce redness due to rosacea and acne scars. One study found nearly 60% of intense pulse light patients experienced improvement in skin around the eyes after three sessions.

Because it does not damage the skin’s surface, recovery time is minimal with a bit of redness. Treatments are known to work better on fair-to-medium skin tones because melanin (pigment) absorbs light energy and deeper skin tones are more likely to burn.

Although it may be less expensive than laser treatments, intense pulse light treatments can run about $100 to $1,000 per session. Some aestheticians will spot treat rather than administer a complete facial.

If you’re thinking about giving it a try, here are a few tips:

Skip self-tanners a few weeks before your treatment to make sure the technician can see your true skin color and colorations.

Avoid direct sunlight or tanning beds for at least three weeks after treatment. It can further irritate the skin.

Apply sunscreen every day. You should be using it every day as a habit, but directly after your treatment you’ll want to protect your skin.

Don’t plan treatments before an important event. Give yourself a week or two to heal before heading out to face the paparazzi. Some people experience more redness and swelling, so plan accordingly.

Make sure you use a reputable technician. Get recommendations from friends and check references and credentials.

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