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Enhanced IPL PhotoFacial Skin Rejuvenation

IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) Is an Essential Component of Skin Renewal

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John Q. Cook, M.D.

Chicago 312-751-2112
Winnetka 847-446-7562

Our patients at the Whole Beauty® Institute benefit from the advantages of advanced IPL treatments. With IPL specific wavelengths of light are used to reduce brown and red discoloration in the skin and restore a fresh and youthful appearance. We often combine IPL with other skin treatments to provide synergistic skin rejuvenation.

Many clinicians think of IPL as a way of treating sun damage, but at WBI we have learned that the benefits of this technology extend beyond a single series of treatments. IPL also has an important place in the prevention of skin degeneration and in the maintenance of healthy skin. Patients benefit from a regular cycle of IPL treatments.

What does IPL Treat?

With the aging process and sun exposure many of us develop brown spots and patches of red in the skin. IPL is one of the very best methods to even out skin color and tone.

IPL reduction of Red and Brown Pigment

We can also help to reduce the redness and flushing that occurs with rosacea with regular IPL treatments.

IPL reduction of Rosacea

IPL reduction of Rosacea

Melasma is a complex problem in which large areas of the face including the forehead, cheeks, and chin develop dark patches. This often occurs in response to changes in the hormonal environment, such as pregnancy. There is no single treatment of melasma, but in experienced hands, IPL at gentle settings can play a role.

IPL also plays an important role in general skin rejuvenation. Regular IPL treatments can help to improve skin tone and texture. At the Whole Beauty® Institute, we often combine IPL with other products and treatments to provide an individualized program of rejuvenation for each patient.

How Does IPL Work?

We all know that a dark car parked in the sun will heat up more than a light colored car. This is because the pigment in the paint of a dark-colored car will absorb energy from the light that strikes its surface, so that the energy is turned into heat. This is essentially what happens with IPL when it strikes the brown and red pigments in the skin. Certain wavelengths of light are particularly well-absorbed by the red pigment in blood cells (hemoglobin) and the brown pigment in dark patches (melanin). IPL is simply a series of bright flashes of light that are run through a filter that selects the range of wavelengths of light that love to go to melanin and hemoglobin. If just the right amount of energy is delivered it will damage the brown or red target without damaging everything else in the neighborhood. The body will then remove the damaged tissue through its natural repair process.

IPL treatment by our WBI team

It turns out that there is more to IPL than this simple process of targeting pigment. Recent scientific studies suggest that IPL helps to keep older skin working like young skin.

Our bodies are in a constant state of renewal and repair. The governing mechanism for this is the complex code that resides in our chromosomes. This code controls the structure and function of the body through a mechanism known as gene expression. Essentially snippets of information in our DNA are translated into messenger molecules that set the machinery of the body to work. With age and stress this beautiful, complex mechanism begins to go awry, which is one of the main reason why a 60-year-old body doesn’t work as well as a 20-year-old body and why 60-year-old skin doesn’t look and feel as nice as 20-year-old skin.

It is now possible with some fancy scientific techniques to measure gene expression. A group of scientists at Stanford recently demonstrated that older skin treated with a form of IPL known as BBL came back to young patterns of gene expression. In effect, the old skin began to work like young skin!

There are many questions that remain to be answered about this important research. For example, how long does this beneficial effect last? Once this research becomes available we will share it with you in a future blog.

The Stanford research may help explain a common observation that the improvements in skin treated regularly with IPL go beyond a simple reduction of brown and red pigment. The skin actually looks fresher and more youthful.

What about all those confusing names?

If you start researching IPL treatments on the internet you will encounter a confusing group of names: IPL, Intense Pulsed Light, PhotoFacial, FotoFacial, BBL, Lumeca, and so on. Each one promotes itself as the “best” IPL, but I have never seen a study that accurately compares these different technologies.

There are technical differences between the different types of IPL machines. These largely come down to the type of bulb that is flashed, the energy output of the machine, the specific wavelengths of light that are selected by filters, and the amount the machine’s output can be “fine-tuned.” Different machines also have different ways to cool the skin in order to make the skin comfortable during treatment.

A skilled clinician can obtain excellent results with any of the medical-grade machines.

All IPL is not Equal: 3 important Things to Look For

First of all, make sure you are treated with a medical-grade IPL machine

The IPL machines mentioned above are all medical grade IPL machines.

There is a wide range of IPL machines. The IPL machines you find in hair salons and spas are low energy devices that provide a very mild effect. This is all for the best because the more powerful medical grade machines do not, in our opinion, belong in a non-medical setting. The reason for this is that the more powerful technology also has a much greater downside, so it needs to be delivered in a medical facility where the team has the appropriate training and knowledge.

Second, make sure the person treating you is properly trained and has in-depth knowledge of IPL. Medical grade IPL devices are not “plug and play”. It is important to individualize the settings for each patient, based on the person’s skin type and the particular condition that is being treated. This requires skill and judgment.

Third, make sure you are in a facility that has expert oversight. You would be well-advised to look for a facility that is led full-time by a doctor who has a strong background in aesthetic surgery or medicine. Think carefully before you go to a medispa with a part-time medical director.

How to prepare for your IPL treatment

It is essential to avoid tanning for 3 to 4 weeks before an IPL treatment. This includes, of course, tanning beds, and self-tanning treatments. If you are actively tanned, the light will be drawn to the pigment, and two undesirable things will occur. The light cannot distinguish between brown spots that are permanently on the skin and the pigment from a suntan, so your treatment will be less effective. Also, the presence of an active tan increases the risk of complications from the treatment. It is not enough to avoid intentional tanning; you must make use of sunblock anytime you are outside in the weeks leading up to an IPL treatment.

Our team at the Whole Beauty® Institute may also suggest other treatments to prepare for your IPL session. If the outer layer of your skin has thickened in response to sun damage we will suggest treatments to reduce the thickness so that the light will penetrate better to the targets that are deeper in the skin.

The IPL Treatment Experience

For some patients, we apply a topical anesthetic cream to the skin before treatment, but often this is not necessary. The machine itself has a cooling system that diminishes the discomfort of the flash of light.

Our experienced team will guide you through every step of the treatment. Your eyes will be protected from the light with an eye shield. We apply a gel to the skin, and then you will feel a cool sensation as the handpiece touches you. There will be a flash of light when the device is activated. Once you are accustomed to the experience we will proceed with the treatment. Treatment of an entire face takes about 20 minutes, due to the fact that our technology is very effective and efficient.

IPL is great for areas other than the face. We use it to treat the neck, chest, hands, and other body zones.

IPL Hand Rejuvenation

For most patients, 2 or 3 IPL treatments will provide optimum results. We generally suggest maintenance treatments every 6 months to 1 year.

What to expect after your IPL Treatment

If your skin has significant brown spots they will darken noticeably at your first treatment. This will disappear in 7 to 10 days. Subsequent treatments will be less noticeable. If you have significant red areas that are treated, especially with rosacea, you may experience swelling, which will subside in 24 to 48 hours. We can provide you with a medication that will help diminish swelling.

It is essential that your skin is protected with a high-level sunblock after treatment. Even with sunblock, you should avoid extensive sun exposure in the early days after IPL.

The best results from IPL require a team effort. We provide high-level technology that is delivered by an experienced and knowledgeable team. Your part is to protect the skin from further sun damage and to follow up with maintenance therapy. Together we can provide you with skin that appears noticeable younger and fresher.

IPL Combined Treatments

At the Whole Beauty® Institute, we offer a wide range of treatments that improve the appearance of the skin. We often combine IPL with other treatments to provide total skin rejuvenation. Options include fractionated laser treatments to improve fine lines and texture, radio-frequency treatments such as Fractora and Forma, which improve skin tone and texture, and a variety of products and treatments.

IPL can also be paired with innovative Biocellular treatments, which target specific aspects of the skin rejuvenation and repair process.

Our team can provide a comprehensive Evaluation

In Chicago, the fall, winter, and spring months are the busiest time for IPL skin rejuvenation since it is natural to take a break from outdoor activities during the chillier months. We recommend that you plan your series of IPL treatments at a time when you will be out of the sun.

To schedule a consultation contact us or call 312-751-2112.

Is IPL right for you? Schedule a consultation with The Whole Beauty® Institute

Contact the Whole Beauty® Institute to schedule your IPL consultation with Dr. John Q. Cook.

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