My long and torrid love affair with the sun has ended. It never has treated me right and now, at the age of 45, has left me with sun spots and fine lines that are quickly turning into permanent wrinkles. That is not a loving relationship and I deserve more. My new relationship is with my sunscreen.
In an effort to improve the appearance of my skin and even out my skin tone, I have tried many creams and serums but the one thing that helped the most is IPL. Actually, the best thing would be to rent a time machine and go back to the 90s and put sunscreen on. Since that isn’t going to happen, I am sharing my experience with IPL treatment and answering questions you might have about the procedure. Keep in mind, I am not a medical professional. This is info I have learned from my own esthetician. Please do your own research as well!
IPL stand for Intense Pulsed Light. It is NOT a laser and it is also known as a photofacial. It is a very intense light that is used on your skin by a medically trained esthetician, targeting the pigmentation several layers into your skin. Over the course of the next 7-14 days, the pigmentation darkens, comes to the surface of the skin and as your cells turnover, the dark spots flake off. My esthetician calls that “peppering”. It does look like bits of black pepper all over your skin as your skin heals.
Is it painful?
It depends on your pain tolerance. It definitely isn’t pain-free but it is over quickly. And if you have given birth, this is nothing. It feels like a hot rubber band, which sounds amazing, I know. The light flashes as your esthetician moves the wand tool over your face, targeting the darker spots. The areas with thinner skin have a little more bite to them, like your forehead and nose.
Is there downtime?
There is zero downtime, which is what I love the most about my experience with IPL treatment. My skin felt very tight and warm, like a sun burn, immediately afterwards but I could make-up on immediately if I wanted. I even went out the dinner that evening after my treatment. The sun spots darken up pretty immediately during and for about 24 hours after treatment, but that just means it is working.
How often do should you go?
It can vary but most places recommend anywhere from 2-6 treatments spaced 4 weeks apart during the winter months. The first year I did IPL treatment I had 3 treatments spaced 4-6 weeks apart. The next 2 winters I did 1-2 treatments as touch ups and to target those spots that made a comeback from sun exposure. The IPL treatment builds upon the next which means you can treat your skin gradually and see how it reacts. When my esthetician treats clients with rosacea, she sees them quarterly for treatments.
What other conditions can IPL help?
Besides sun spots and lightening darker pigmentation, it can help with broken capillaries (which I have on my cheeks and around my nose), rosacea, shrinks pores and promotes collagen synthesis.
Can the dark spots come back?
They can come back if you expose your skin to the very thing that caused them in the first place….the sun. That’s why multiple treatments are recommended and daily sunblock application is key. Usually, if they come back, they are lighter and less noticeable. I will have new ones that pop up from year to year, but overall, I have waaaaay less sun spots on my face than 4 years ago.
what is the Best time of year to receive IPL?
The best time to get this treatment is in the winter months when the sun is less intense and we are outside less. Also, the pigmentation in your skin is the lightest during the winter and easier for the light to target those brown spots.
How much does IPL treatment Cost?
Average cost around Kansas City tends to be right around $300 a session, give or take. Many medical spas run package specials in the fall to use over the winter. Check around and see what specials your local spas run.
I absolutely love getting IPL! After my first experience with IPL treatment, I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror. I honestly stared at my skin and marveled at how even it looked. I imagine that’s how I looked when I was born and hadn’t abused the sun. Oh, to go back in time.
There are many treatments out there to help aging skin and this is just one of them. Believe me, when and if I try something else, you will know about it. If you have any questions about my experience with IPL, please leave a comment or shoot me an email.
And if you are still reading, I apologize for so many pictures of me looking deep into your soul or what would equate to my mug shot.