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IPL truths and myths?

Timaru Courier Column - September 2014

IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) is a relatively recent technology. It is an essential tool in our clinic for removing hair, and rejuvenating skin.

IPL machines are similar to lasers in that the light energy produced by the IPL machine is absorbed by a particular target in the skin, such as spider veins, age spots and hair follicles.  The light energy is converted to heat which safely removes spider veins, age spots or hair and stimulates collagen to help slow down ageing and shrink pores.

What can be treated?

1. "Pink" blood vessel type problems, such as rosacea, redness, and broken capillaries (spider veins) of the face or body.

2. "Brown", melanin type problems, such as sun or age spots and pigmentation.  These can be prevented to some degree by sun protection measures but once you have them, IPL is the most effective and fastest way to remove them.

3. Hair removal.

Who should perform my treatment? There are hundreds of different IPL machines on the market, ranging in price from $3000 to $200,000.  Like most things, you definitely get what you pay for.  A $200,000 medical IPL machine is obviously more effective and safer than a $3,000 machine. Medical clinics only use medical IPL machines. Unfortunately New Zealand currently has no regulations regarding IPL treatment, so anyone can operate an IPL machine.  To ensure your treatment is safe and effective make sure your IPL practitioner has a Diploma from the New Zealand Society of Cosmetic Medicine (DipNZSCM) or is supervised by one.

How frequently do I need treatments? For “pink marks”, “brown marks” and sun damage, treatments are repeated every month over 5 months.  For hair removal, it depends on the colour of the hair and of the surrounding skin.  However they are initially performed every 6 to 12 weeks.

How do you do the treatments and does it hurt? Your skin is thoroughly cleaned, covered with a thin layer of gel and then the area concerned is treated.  Treatments take from 15-60 minutes depending on what is being treated.  The sensation is a “warm pinch” which only lasts for a fraction of a second.  You may feel warmth or a tingling sensation for a few seconds after.

How long will the results last? For the “pink”, “brown” and sun damage based skin conditions, after the initial 5 treatments, you will require a single maintenance treatment every 6-24 months (depending on subsequent sun exposure) to keep the skin looking rejuvenated. For more information, check out  Hair removal with IPL is considered permanent.

Is it safe? IPL treatment is very safe for the skin.  There are no long-term health hazards from light energy.  There are many more dangers from the sun, especially if you don’t use sun-screen.  Light energy has been used for decades in medicine and surgery without problems.  You can have the procedure done in your lunch break and return to work immediately afterwards.  Remember, for the safest and most effective result make sure your IPL practitioner has a Diploma from the New Zealand Society of Cosmetic Medicine (DipNZSCM) or is supervised by one and uses a medical IPL machine, such as ELOS.

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ABOVE: BEFORE & AFTER Hair removal treatment - Results may vary




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