If you are bothered by brown spots or tiny red vessels on your face, you need to read on!
We asked Dr. Norris at Nicole Norris MD Medical Spa what her favorite treatment was to make the skin all one color again and her answer was an IPL laser treatment (also known as Photofacial). We then asked her questions about this fascinating laser treatment so our readers can decide if it is right for them.
What is the best way to treat brown spots and red vessels on the face? “When a patient comes in to see me complaining of brown spots on the face caused from sun exposure or unsightly red vessels on their face, I almost always reach for my IPL (Intense pulse light) laser. An IPL laser is a collection of different wavelengths of light, some of which are attracted to dark pigment, and some are attracted to small blood vessels. When I direct the light energy at one of these targets, the target closest to the surface of the skin absorbs the energy and is destroyed. Often patients have many layers of brown pigment and red vessels under their skin that they have accumulated overtime, so it can take a few treatments to get to a point that they are satisfied. When you are exposed to intense heat or UVA/UVB light you tend to create more dark spots and more red vessels. After an initial series of IPL laser treatment, patients in my practice often come for touch-ups in the winter to clean-up the “mess” from summer sun exposure.”
Is it painful and is there downtime? “The best way to describe the sensation of a laser pulse is that it feels like a warm rubber band snap. It is tolerable with our device that has a freezer system built into it. After the IPL laser treatment, patients look and feel mildly windburned. We apply ice, cold air and hydrocortisone cream after the treatment so any redness they may have is usually gone in an hour or so. When the pigment (brown spots) under the skin is destroyed they work their way out of the skin over the next 14 days which can look like tiny bits of dirt on the face. Occasionally when we destroy a blood vessel, it can leave a purplish hue for a week or so. It is important that patients avoid direct sun exposure and retinol products 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after this laser treatment.”
Who is a good candidate for IPL Laser treatment? “Patients who wish to have a reduction in brown spots and/or red vessels on their face, do not have dark skin and are not tan from sun exposure or tanning bed exposure are the best candidates. We tend to do these treatments most in the fall, winter and spring in Illinois when we are not exposed to intense sun and our skin is at our lightest shade. This is the safest way to do Laser treatments.”
What are the possible side effects of this treatment? If this treatment is done on a patient with dark skin or sun-tanned skin, it can cause areas of hypopigmentation (white spots) that can be permanent. Essentially the laser cannot tell the difference between brown skin and the brown spot that we don’t want. This is also not the best treatment for patients with melasma which is brown patches on the skin caused by pregnancy, hormones, medication or intense heat exposure. When you come in for your IPL laser consultation, we help you determine if you are a good candidate for IPL Laser treatment by using our skin imaging system and measuring the pigment levels in your skin with our melanin index reader. Chemical peels or microneedling can be a good alternative for patients with darker skin or melasma. One of the most sought-after side effects of IPL laser treatments is mild skin tightening that is seen due to heating up the deeper layers of the skin. Everyone likes that side effect!”
If you are intrigued by IPL laser treatments to reduce brown spots and/or red vessels on your skin, call Nicole Norris MD Medical Spa for your consultation with Dr. Norris or to schedule your procedure.