Photofacial rejuvenation is a non-invasive rejuvenation of your skin using the remarkable technology of Intense Pulsed Light (IPL). Photofacial treatments improve the signs of sun damage, redness, and brown spots on the face, hands, and body. There is absolutely no recuperation time – with an IPL Photofacial, you can return to work or resume your normal activities right after your treatment. You will notice a gradual, natural-looking improvement in your skin tone. IPL Photofacial is safe for most skin types, but care must be taken with UV exposure following treatment sessions.

What does IPL Photofacial treat?

  • Sunspots (UV damage)
  • Rosacea (excessive skin redness and increased blood vessels)
  • Melasma (pigmentation around the eyes and cheeks)
  • MaxG can also treat telangiectasias (broken capillaries) and smaller facial vessels

How It Works

The Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) technology utilizes a large spectrum of light wavelengths to treat the skin. Different systems may be used, each of which filter light from different parts of the spectrum. Portions of the light spectrum have wavelengths that are ideal for different treatments, such as sunspot removal and blood vessel clearance. The Cynosure MaxG handpiece emits pulses of light simultaneously at the upper and lower ends of the spectrum in order to maintain efficacy while limiting side effects. The pulses are absorbed by the pigment in brown spots and the blood in visible blood vessels. This light energy is then converted to heat. The heat shrinks the blood vessels and works to break down cells that create the pigment.

What Can I Expect?

It is extremely important that you are NOT sunburned or tanned (including artificial tans) when the treatment is performed, as this may interfere with the IPL procedure and increase the risk of side effects. A mild warmth or pinching sensation on the skin will tell you when the laser is being pulsed. No anesthesia is necessary, but a topical gel is often applied during the treatment.
Immediately after treatment, you may feel like you have a mild sunburn, with minor redness and possibly some swelling. This usually lasts less than 24 hours and can be soothed with cold compresses. Your brown spots will also darken temporarily after each treatment and be naturally shed from the skin within 2 weeks. Moisturizer and sunscreen should be applied immediately afterward and should be continued throughout the duration of your IPL Photofacial treatment. For most patients, it takes 4-6 treatments spaced approximately 3 or 4 weeks apart.

Please note that all patients are different and individual healing times and results may vary. The statements regarding procedures and recovery made here are general rules.

Frequently Asked Questions

IPL photofacials can treat UV damage like sun spots, rosacea flares, melasma, and even broken capillaries and smaller facial blood vessels. This type of treatment is usually done on the face, but the hands are another popular treatment area. Nearly any part of the body that has issues like sun spots and broken capillaries can be treated with an IPL photofacial.

Nearly anyone can have an IPL photofacial, regardless of skin type. However, it’s important to be vigilant about sun protection after treatment, especially for patients who have skin types that make them more susceptible to sun damage. Anyone who’s recently tanned outdoors, used a tanning bed, or been sunburned isn’t a good candidate and should wait until the skin has returned to its natural state.

The IPL technology uses a broad range of light wavelengths during treatment. Each IPL system can filter light from a different portion of the spectrum. The wavelengths from some parts of the light spectrum are best for treating problems like sun spots while other wavelengths are best for broken capillaries and facial blood vessels. The pigmentation or blood targeted absorbs the light right at the origin. This light is then turned into heat, which causes withering of the blood vessels and breakdown of the pigment. Blood is absorbed back into other parts of the body, while the tiny particles of the pigmentation are absorbed and eliminated from the body naturally. Most patients need 4-6 treatments, spaced 3-4 weeks apart.

The treatment isn’t uncomfortable for most patients. Anesthetic isn’t needed, but a topical cooling gel is often used. Patients report feeling a sensation of warmth and a mild snapping or pinching during the laser pulses. After IPL photofacial treatment, patients may look and feel as if they’re slightly sunburned. This typically abates within 24 hours. Cold compresses can soothe any mild discomfort. High-quality moisturizers and sunscreens should be used to protect the skin and enhance results.

There’s no recovery time needed after an IPL photofacial. In fact, many people even have this treatment during a lunch break and then go back to work and their usual daily routine immediately.

Dr. Evan Ransom is an Ivy League-educated and Ivy League trained Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon. He is a Double Board Certified Head and Neck Surgeon and Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and fellowship-trained in facial plastic, reconstructive, and laser surgery. His practice is in the San Francisco Bay Area, serving patients from San Francisco, Oakland, Marin County, Palo Alto, Silicon Valley, Walnut Creek, the East Bay, and all over Northern California.