Skin takes a beating on a daily basis, and it is common to start seeing signs of sun damage and aging as adults, even at a fairly young age. Problems like redness, brown spots, spider veins, and skin conditions like rosacea can affect the complexion and cause self-consciousness and dissatisfaction with the appearance of the skin. While these problems are very unlikely to go away on their own, there are treatments that can help improve the skin and reverse signs of sun damage and aging for a fresh and rejuvenated appearance and improved skin tone and quality.

Many people who undergo skin treatments like photofacials find that their confidence and self-esteem improve along with their skin. So how does the treatment help with these problems?

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Collagen and Facial Skin Aesthetics

Collagen is an essential structural and connective protein that is a "scaffold" for the skin. Youthful and healthy skin has high levels of collagen, making it supple, soft, smooth, and fresh-looking. With age or sun damage, collagen breaks down, which causes problems such as dull skin and fine lines. Skin treatments often work by stimulating collagen production to rejuvenate the skin gradually.

Blood Vessels and Rosacea

"Spider veins" or damaged blood vessels and small veins in the face can be seen under the skin, particularly on the nose. Rosacea is a skin condition that causes redness and flushing, though the exact cause of the problem is still unknown. Light treatments can reduce the appearance of redness and damaged veins for clearer skin by targeting these vessels.

Photofacial/IPL Treatments

IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light, a technology that is used to gently target the deep tissues under the skin and prompt the body to produce more collagen, a process that slows down with prolonged sun exposure and age. IPL energy can also be used to target the damaged, visible blood vessels and redness associated with rosacea to help clear the skin and resolve redness. Following the treatment, improvement will be gradual as the body works to clear away damaged tissues and create new, youthful structures.

*Spa services not covered by insurance.

Photofacial/IPL Consultation

IPL treatments are minimally invasive treatments requiring little to no downtime, but the first step in the process is a consultation with our expert cosmetic surgeons and licensed aestheticians in Atlanta. Each procedure is customized to the patient's needs, and the treatment plan will vary depending on the goals for the procedure.

Once the surgeons and aestheticians at the Emory Aesthetic Center have had a chance to evaluate your skin and ask questions about what your expectations are, they will give you treatment options that suit your needs. Be sure to ask any questions you may have and address any concerns with our experts. If you are a candidate, you may then schedule an IPL treatment at our facility.

Photofacial/IPL Candidates

Candidates for IPL treatment are healthy adults with sun damage (brown spots, dull, damaged skin), fine lines and wrinkles, enlarged pores, spider veins, or rosacea. IPL is a versatile treatment that is appropriate for many potential patients, but it is not right for everyone. IPL is most successful and safe when performed on fair-skinned individuals with good skin elasticity. Potential candidates should have realistic expectations for the results of the procedure, and be willing to stick with the treatment schedule and aftercare required for good results. Patients should not be pregnant, have severe skin conditions, or be taking skin medications such as Accutane. For patients who are not a good fit for IPL, there are other effective skin treatments that may be more appropriate.

IPL Procedure

Just prior to IPL treatment, the skin will be cooled to help prevent discomfort during the procedure. A hand piece is used to direct light pulses directly into the areas of the skin experiencing problems. IPL is a straightforward procedure that nonetheless requires the skill of an experienced licensed aesthetician to optimize results. Depending on the size of the area(s) and complexity of the treatment, IPL sessions typically take 30-90 minutes to complete. Several sessions will be needed to achieve desired results in most cases.

Photofacial/IPL Recovery

Following the procedure, patients can return to most normal activities immediately. There are some restrictions for the first few days, such as no sun exposure or swimming in chlorinated pools. The treated skin will be very sensitive, and it is important not to irritate the skin with chemicals, heat, or perfumed products. The skin will probably swell and redden, which will last a day or two, on average. Along the areas that have sun damage, brown spots may initially appear darker, similar to coffee ground are on the skin. This can last for up to two weeks before starting to fade. Blistering and scabbing are rare, but can occur. If side effects persist for more than two days, it is important to contact your surgeon.

Photofacial/IPL FAQs

The number of IPL treatments needed can vary, depending on the patient. Many patients see satisfactory results with a series of three to five treatments, but you and your surgeon or aesthetician will determine what treatment plan is best for you. Treatment sessions are usually spaced approximately three to six weeks apart to give the skin time to improve between sessions.

Since IPL reacts to the melanin (dark pigment) in the skin, IPL on darker skin can be tricky and risky. Our surgeons will assess your candidacy carefully and determine whether IPL or a different treatment is the best option for your skin tone.

While there is some discomfort involved with the IPL procedure, it is generally well-tolerated by most patients. Many patients describe the sensation as similar to a pinprick or the snap of an elastic band.

The longevity of IPL results depends on the lifestyle and skin of the individual. However, results of the procedure are typically long-lasting if patients are diligent about aftercare. Many people see results for a few years following treatment, but individual results vary.

IPL results cannot last forever, since time and environmental factors will always continue to affect the skin. If you wish to maintain the results of the procedure, you may need touch-ups in the future.

No; IPL reacts to the melanin in your skin and intensifies the light energy on darker skin, so you must refrain from sun exposure and tanning for at least four to six weeks before the treatment. Since you will need to have a series of treatments, you will need to avoid sun exposure for much longer than this, and be diligent about sun protection following the treatment. If you are insistent upon tanning, IPL is not an appropriate treatment for you.

IPL therapy is gentle and safe, and may be performed on various areas of the body. Patients most often request treatment on the face, neck, chest, and hands.

Everyone is different, and there are many different types of cosmetic skin treatments available to suit almost every need. Only you and an expert cosmetic surgeon or licensed aesthetician can determine the treatment that is right for you, so keep an open mind and focus on your overall skin rejuvenation goals when heading to your consultation.

Yes; you will not be able to tan (natural, salon, or spray) or use products containing bleach, glycolic acid, or retinol before your appointment. Your surgeon or aesthetician will give you specific timeframes and a list of guidelines during your consultation appointment. Avoiding these activities and products is essential to getting optimal results and avoiding cosmetic complications.

IPL is a very safe treatment, and typically patients will only notice minor swelling and redness following treatment. However, blistering and scabbing can occur, and it is important to follow all of your surgeon's instructions post-procedure to care for your skin properly and avoid damaging it. Not following surgeon instructions can lead to problems such as poor healing and skin discoloration, so be careful.