How Does It Work on Rosacea?
Intense pulsed light treatments (IPL) can help reduce the redness, dilated blood vessels, and acne-like breakouts associated with rosacea. It does this by emitting high-intensity, non-laser pulses of light that penetrate the skin to very specific computer-controlled depths, but without damaging the top layer of skin.
IPL uses a wide spectrum of light. Different wavelengths of light are used to target different tissues in the skin. For example, wavelengths that can be absorbed by the reddish color of hemoglobin in blood vessels are used to remove the dilated “spider” veins associated with rosacea.
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What Is the Treatment Like?
Your skin will be gently cleansed before treatment, and a topical anesthesia may be applied to make you more comfortable. You’ll be given goggles to protect your eyes, and a cool gel will then be spread onto the area of your skin targeted for treatment. The treatment itself takes about 15 to 30 minutes. During the procedure, your physician will gently press a smooth wand-like handpiece, which delivers the carefully calibrated pulses of light, across your skin. Some people describe the sensation of the pulsing light as similar to the tiny “snapping” of a rubber band.
You can expect to see some results after a week or two. For optimal, long-lasting results, however, you’ll most likely need a short series of treatments—four to six, spaced a month or so apart. Effects can last for 12 months or longer.
Minimal Side Effects
Because its light does not damage the top layer of skin, IPL is known as a non-ablative procedure. As a result, side effects are minimal. You’ll experience some mild redness and swelling for 24 to 48 hours, but bruising and other side effects are rare. As a result, you can return to your normal activities immediately after treatment, if you wish. You won’t need to take any time off for “recovery.”
IPL does not work on all skin types. People with darker skin tones or who have spent a lot of time out in the sun may not be good candidates for this treatment. Be sure to ask your physician about all the risks and benefits of IPL—and about all other treatment options—before you select a strategy for treating your rosacea.