What is IPL?
IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light. It quite literally means that an Intense Light using waves from the visible light spectrum is Pulsed into the skin.
How does it work?
By a method called selective photothermolysis. This means that the light (photo) selects a target and heats it up (thermo) and destroys it (lysis).
What conditions can IPL treat?
The light used in IPL and Laser treatments comes from what's known as the visible Light Spectrum, or natural white light made up of many colours. The different coloured light has different wavelengths. When the various wavelengths are pulsed into the skin they are absorbed by a target or chromaphore (colour) and different wavelengths will be absorbed by different colours. For example a red (695nm) wavelength will be attracted and absorbed by melanin. Melanin is the pigment found in the skin but is also in abundance in our hair and gives it its colour. Therefore when this light is pulsed into the skin the melanin, or pigment in the hair absorbs all the light energy and is heated up and destroyed. Therefore by pulsing different wavelengths into the skin we can target different structures including hair, blood vessels and sun-damage.
Vascular conditions facial veins/dilated capillaries. These can often be seen over the cheeks, chin and nose and can extend down onto the neck and chest area. On the face the condition can range from general high colour to distinct red thread veins but in some cases it can progress to a condition known as Acne Rosacae.
Dilated capillaries on the face are normally due to sun damage and other environmental factors as well as internal factors such as diet, medication and hormonal changes. Whilst flushing of the skin is difficult to treat with IPL, defined red capillaries and redness can be treated in several sessions extremely successfully.
Acne Rosacea This condition usually presents itself around the age of 35 yrs and is seen in both men and women and the causes are still unclear. The condition has two main symptoms firstly high colour and redness typically across the nose, cheeks and chin and secondly larger hard papules or spots under the skin. The papules can be allieviated quite successfully with courses of oral anti-biotics or topical preparations however they do little to treat the redness of the skin. The vascular component of the condition can be treated very successfully with IPL.
Redness on the neck and chest can be a condition known as poikiloderma of civatte a condition with clearly defined redness (Telangiactasia) and pigmentation often attributed to the use of perfume, cologne and after shave and its interaction with the sun.
Leg veins are generally not treated with the IPL and these conditions are treated with sclerotherapy and/ Laser treatments.
Sun damage Brown pigmentation caused by over exposure to the sun can be treated with IPL. Pigmentation can be seen is on the face, neck, chest and arms as well as the hands (age spots).
Another type of pigmentation is known as Melasma also known as Chloasma. This can be identified by staining across the cheeks, top lip and forehead. It is normally associated with hormonal influences such as the contraceptive pill or pregnancy combined with exposure to the sun or sunbeds. Many patients complain of a dark 'moustache' like staining across the top lip during the summer months and during pregnancy it is often called the pregnancy veil/mask. This type of pigmentation is not generally treated with IPL or Laser technology and will be treated with prescribed topical creams.
Wrinkles and fine lines The heat generated by the IPL system can bring about changes in the fibroblast of the skin. Fibroblasts are connective tissue cells that make and secrete collagen proteins. The heating and inflammation caused by the IPL stimulate the fibroblasts to produce collagen leading to a reduction of fine lines and wrinkles as well as improving the texture of the skin and reducing pore size.
Active Acne Some acne conditions can be improved using IPL and can help prevent the formation of acne scarring. Some acne conditions contain a bacteria called called Propionibacterium or P acne for short. This bacteria is light sensitive and can be significantly reduced by IPL. The stimulation of collagen can also help with acne scarring.
Birth marks Some birth marks can be treated as well as small strawberry marks and spider nevai.
How is IPL different from Laser?
Lasers and IPLs work in a similar way in that they both generate an intense light which on entering the skin selects a target (chromophore) that has a colour be it hair, capillaries or pigment and destroys it using the heat energy. However, how the energy is produced and delivered to the skin is slightly different. IPL delivers a broad spectrum of wavelengths which spread this is known as polychromatic, divergent light. Laser light is generally a single wavelength that travels in a straight line and this is known as monochromatic, low divergent light. Your practitioner will advise you on which treatment is best for you.
Can anyone be treated?
We can only treat patients over the age of 18yrs. Both males and females are treated at our clinic. Patients that are pregnant or planning a pregnancy are not suitable for treatment. There are certain medications that will be affected by the IPL light and in these cases patients may not be suitable for treatment or the medication may have to be discontinued whilst treatment is taking place. It is also important to remember that no treatment can be given if there is a sun tan present or fake tan or the patient has been using a sun bed 4-12 weeks prior to the treatment. The clinic does reserve the right to refuse treatment if the practitioner feels that they are unsuitable for treatment.
Who will be treating me?
A qualified practitioner will be completing the treatments. Treatments are overseen by a Doctor. All practitioners hold a BTEC qualification in Laser and IPL treatments and regularly update their qualifications. A copy of Practitioners qualifications and insurance cover is available on request and can be found in the clinics reception area.
Is the consultation free and how long will it take?
Yes the consultation is free and will take approximately 45 minutes. If after this time you are still unsure and need to spend more time with the practitioner this will be arranged, either immediately if the bookings allow or a new time will be arranged for you. Consultations are given to provide you with as much information as possible regarding the treatment and are without obligation.
Is there anything I can do before a consultation to prepare the treatment area?
Yes. It is also very important that there is no tan in the treatment area. This includes fake tans, sun bed tan and tan from the sun.
If you are on any medication it is also advisable to bring these along in order to check if they will affect the treatment.
There is no need to come without make up as this can be removed in the clinic. You may want to bring you make up to reapply after the session.
What will happen during the consultation?
The practitioner will explain the treatment thoroughly. There are diagrams and pictures to help you understand the procedure. You will then be assessed for suitability i.e. the practitioner will examine the treatment area. If at this point you decide that you want to proceed with treatment you will then be asked a series of medical questions and asked to sign consent form. At this stage you may wish to take the information home and think about it and maybe even return with a friend. If however you are happy then all the relevant paperwork will be completed.
Can I bring somebody with me for the consultation and treatments?
Yes, if you would like to bring along a chaperone that is absolutely fine. We do not permit children in the treatment room and do not provide child-care facilities. Treatment will be declined under these circumstances.
What happens after the consultation?
No treatment can proceed without the area first being tested. This can be completed at the consultation stage.
What is the cost of the patch test?
£25 but this will be deducted from the first treatment.
What will happen during my patch test?
A small area in the treatment site will be tested using various treatment settings. Observations will be recorded by the practitioner and you will be asked for your feedback. These teats are carried out to further eliminate some of the risks associated with the treatment.
Can I have treatment without a patch test?
Unfortunately not. We are unable to complete a treatment on the day of patch testing and we must wait one week between patch testing and treatment. We hope that you will be reassured by this policy as our care of the patient is of up most importance to us.
If I have had treatment at another clinic can I have treatment straight away without a patch test?
Unfortunately not, you will be treated as a new patient.
Once I have had the patch test what do I do?
You will be asked to observe the treatment area for 2-7 days (depending on skin type). If during that time you note any concerns you must contact the clinic and inform them. If however no adverse response is noted treatment can then be arranged shortly after this patch test.
What will happen during treatment?
You will be asked to wear a pair of protective goggles or eye shields. The treatment area will be prepared and a layer of cooling gel applied. Treatment will cover small area and each area will be immediately cooled. Depending on the area to be treated, treatment times are between 15 minutes/1 hour. Your practitioner will advise you on treatment times during the consultation.
Will the treatment hurt?
Treatment feels like a splash of hot fat, others have described as an elastic band flicking the skin. The sensation wears off very quickly and a heat sensation and tingling feeling is experienced. This normally wears off within an hour or so.
What will the area look like after the treatment?
If you are being treated for a vascular condition the skin with look very red and slightly swollen. The area may bruise but this can be covered with make up and any heat resulting after the treatment can be reduced using cool compresses. The neck and chest areas may have slightly longer down time but this can be covered with a scarf or roll neck jumper.
If pigmentation or sun damage is being treated then the pigment will turn significantly darker following the treatment and can take 4-10 days to fade.
Rejuvenation treatments will show little side effects and patient leave with mild reddening and swelling.
How long will these side effects last?
We always suggest that patients plan their treatment around a time when they can have a couple of days to allow the area to settle. Side effects may be gone within a few hours but in some cases can last for a week to 10 days.
Can I prepare the treatment area prior to my visit?
As with the patch test we will not treat an area that has been exposed to the sun, sun beds or fake tan (within 4-12 weeks of exposure). Therefore we advise that patient start using a sun block 4-6 weeks prior to treatment.
If your medical history has changed in anyway it is always advisable to call and speak to your practitioner just in case treatment is not able to be carried out.
Do I have to protect the area after treatment?
It is very important that you do not expose the treated area to the sun for at least 1 week after treatment. You will be advised to use a sun block on the area during your treatment.
Will I always have to protect my skin from the sun?
We would always advise patients to protect their skin from the harmful effects of the sun. If we are going to treat an area that has been damaged it make good skin sense to maintain the results with sun block. Patients that do not comply with this may not be suitable for treatment.
How many sessions will I need?
Typically 3-6 sessions are required. This is very much dependent on the condition to be treated and skin type.
Once I have a course of treatment will that be it and I never have to come back?
We suggest that you may have to return for maintenance sessions in the future. We can also recommend a home care regime to maintain the results.
Are there any risks associated with this treatment?
As with all procedures there are risks. We strive to eliminate these risks by completing thorough consultations, skin testing and pre and post care advice. However there is a risk element and these include, scarring and permanent discolouration as well as short term side effects such as reddening, mild burning, blistering, bruising, swelling and hyper-pigmentation and hypo-pigmentation. A copy of these risks are given to you and explained fully.
Are there any long term side effects?
None have been reported other than favorable rejuvenation effects to the skin. The light used is from the visible light spectrum and as such does not carry the risks associated with the more harmful UV rays.
Do you provide facilities for disabled clients and those that have visual, learning or language difficulties?
Yes. We offer full disabled access. If you have any difficulties mentioned above please contact our clinic and we will be happy to make any necessary arrangements for you prior to you visit.
Are the treatments governed by anyone?
Yes. These treatments are regulated by the Care Quality Commission. They will inspect our clinic once a year and a copy of our registration form can be found in the clinic. If you wish to contact the Care Quality Commission with regards to our service to you there address is:
East of England Team
1st Floor, Finsbury Tower
103-105 Bunhill Row
London EC1Y 8TG
What should I do next if I want a treatment?
It couldn't be easier call or email us to arrange a consultation in one of our national clinics.
If you have more questions please e mail us or call 01206 298464/0870 4585483 and we will be happy to answer you questions.