Looking To Improve Skin Discoloration? Consider Intense Pulsed Light Therapy

Michelle Hopkins

If your face has blotchy or discolored areas due to sun exposure, aging, or other factors, you may be looking at a few options to improve your skin's appearance. If at-home treatments aren't working, you may want to visit a medical spa, which provides aesthetic services under the supervision of a physician. One spa treatment you may want to try is intense pulsed light therapy (IPL), or a photo-facial. Read on to learn more about this service and how it could help your skin.

How Does it Work?

IPL is considered a non-ablative laser therapy, which means that the laser's wavelengths affect the lower layers of skin instead of the top layers of skin. During IPL, your doctor will target certain areas of pigment with a laser light. As these skin cells absorb the heat energy from the laser, they will be damaged and eventually slough off as new skin cells turnover and an increase of collagen. IPL is a safe procedure as harmful UV radiation is typically filtered out.

Who is a Good Candidate for IPL Therapy?

Your health and medical provider will know whether you are a good candidate, but typically patients that could benefit from IPL include those with:

  • Excessive freckles and liver spots
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from acne
  • Dark spots from hormonal fluctuations
  • Broken capillaries
  • Redness from rosacea

If you have other skin complaints, such as wrinkles or poor skin elasticity, then IPL can also be used to improve those issues.  

However, some people may not be good candidates for this therapy if they use certain medications, like retinoids, have severe scarring, have naturally dark skin tones, or have sun damage from tanning beds.

What Should You Expect at Your Appointment?

Before your appointment, your doctor may have you avoid chemical peels, waxing, sunbathing, or other activities that can be rough on your skin.

On the day of your appointment, your doctor will apply a cooling/numbing gel to the area of your skin that will be treated. They will then use a wand-like instrument over your skin to apply the laser light. Your doctor will have you wear special glasses so that your eyes are protected from the laser. The laser light shouldn't be painful, but you might feel a tingling or stinging sensation during application. The length of your appointment could be very short or a few hours, depending on how many areas need to be treated. After treatment, your skin may be red and tender—similar to a mild sunburn—for a few days. Your doctor may ask you to use mild cleansers on your skin as it heals, and they may have you wear sunscreen and try to avoid direct suns exposure while your skin heals.

Reach out to a medical spa to learn more about IPL therapy and other treatments that could help your skin discoloration.