Photorejuvenation is a treatment that uses intense pulsed light (IPL), a non-laser light source, to fix pigmentation issues, like sun damage, brown spots, and freckles, and vascular abnormalities such as redness, broken capillaries, spider veins, and rosacea. Photorejuvenation also minimizes pore size and fine lines, stimulates dormant skin cells, and promotes new collagen to grow.
IPL technology works by emitting high-intensity pulses of broadband light deep into the skin without harming the surface area. A highly advanced built-in computer controls the range and frequency of the light to target and collapse damaged blood vessels and/or melanin, while normal surrounding skin tissue is hardly affected.
Since IPL uses a range of wavelengths, as opposed to lasers that use just one wavelength, photorejuvenation is ideal to treat large areas that are splattered with skin discoloration issues. “Photorejuvenation is used more often if a patient has very small blood vessels or brown discoloration from sun damage diffusely in an area like the face, chest, arms, or back. It does a very good job at evening out skin tone overall in an area,” explains dermatologist Robyn Gmyrek, whose practice is in the prestigious Columbia University Skin and Laser Center in New York City. If you want to target one large blood vessel (1mm and above) or individual brown spots, you may want to use the Vbeam laser instead.
Photorejuvenation is ideal for people who have pale to medium or olive-toned complexions and wish to refine skin texture and even out skin discoloration caused by sun damage, aging, acne, rosacea, damaged blood vessels, or capillaries. Photorejuvenation is not suitable for darker skin types since melanin is one of the primary targets; the darker your skin, the higher the risk of adverse pigmentation issues. Individuals with darker skin types should consider chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and laser resurfacing to improve skin texture and tone.
Photorejuvenation is not appropriate for pregnant women or patients who have taken Accutane for the past six months. Persons with a history of cold sores or herpes simplex virus shouldn’t have this procedure until they are pre-treated for these conditions. Certain medications, particularly blood thinners, may increase the risk of side effects, so it is very important to talk to a trusted doctor about your medical history.
The discomfort level of photorejuvenation depends on a person’s threshold for pain. Often times, a topical anesthetic is applied 10 to 30 minutes before treatment, but further pain management is not necessary.
A photorejuvenation treatment requires you and the doctor to wear protective eyewear. Skin is first cleansed and coated with a thin layer of cool gel, then the doctor or technician places a handheld device with a smooth glass surface onto the skin that pulses flashes of light. Each pulse causes a snapping or burning sensation that can be compared to the snapping of a rubber band or quick match burn. Once the treatment is finished, the gel is wiped off and a cold compress may be applied for several minutes to alleviate any discomfort. Moisturizer and sunscreen is applied as a last step.
30 minutes to 1 hour
$350 to $1,000 depending on the area treated.
Immediately following a photorejuvenation treatment, your skin may feel warm, red, and slightly swollen, similar to having a sunburn. This usually resolves naturally within a day. A small crust may form on treated sun spots, which will fall off a few days after treatment.
Bruising may occur, especially if aspirin, NSAID (e.g. Ibuprofen, Aleve), Vitamin E, or certain herbs (Ginkgo Biloba, St. John’s Wart) were taken within 7 days preceding the treatment or if the patient is on blood thinners.
In rare cases, mild blistering may occur, but this is generally a result of malpractice. Blanching or hyper-pigmentation will only occur if practitioner does not adhere to strict guidelines regarding settings for the different skin types and colors. Browse The Book for the best experts in your city.
Within 2 to 3 weeks of the first photorejuvenation treatment, skin looks and feels smoother and has a more even coloration. After 3 or more consecutive treatments, there should be a gradual improvement in tone and texture with a visible decrease of redness, dark spots, fine lines, and pores.
Freckles and age spots may appear darker for up to a week before they fade gradually.
The results of photorejuvenation are highly contingent upon proper pre- and post- treatment care and limiting sun exposure.
Usually 6 treatments are recommended, each performed every of 3 to 5 weeks. Maintenance procedures after the initial series are recommended once every 3 to 4 months.
“Because IPL is technically not a laser, depending on state laws, it may be allowed in non-medical facilities like spas. I use my IPL a tremendous amount and, in my hand, I feel it is both as potent and potentially carries as much risk as a laser,” explains Dr. Gmyrek. With this in mind, you should visit an actively board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Dermatologists should be certified by the American Board of Dermatology (ABD). Plastic Surgeons should be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Both of those boards are part of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), a non-profit organization that is considered the gold standard of physician certification. Consult the Charlotte’s Book Premier Provider directory to find a doctor who meets these standards and specializes in this treatment. For more information about how we choose our providers, please read Credentials We Abide By.
If you do get IPL at a spa, make sure the technician is licensed to use IPL and has extensive experience using it.
Got rosacea? Photorejuvenation is probably your best bet at curbing all that redness.
When it comes to photorejuvenation, there are so many risk-related reasons to entrust only a certified doctor with IPL experience. Not to mention the devices used in non-medical places are usually less powerful. Be snotty when it comes to your skin!
Photorejuvenation is only brag-worthy after a series. Luckily the treatment stings less and less each time you go.
Like many other treatments, post-treatment care is essential with photorejuvenation. Avoid hot baths or showers, aerobic exercise, massage, and harsh cleansers or chemicals for 48 hours following treatment. Don’t skimp on sunscreen.
Disclaimer: As always, this information is provided to you for educational and/or informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an endorsement of any particular product, treatment, or procedure. This information is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment by a doctor or other qualified health care professional. For medical concerns, including decisions about any procedure or treatment, users should always consult their doctor or other qualified health care professional. Please visit our Terms of Service to view our full disclaimers
Fraxel makes several fractional resurfacing lasers that treat a spectrum of concerns, from general skin rejuvenation to deep wrinkles and scars.
Often called the "starter" laser, the intensity of this gentle skin resurfacing treatment lies between a spa facial and a more aggressive Fraxel laser.
This multi-tasker has a fractional laser and IPL to offer a variety of treatments, from photorejuvenation to wrinkle and spot reduction.
This vascular laser treats broken capillaries, rosacea, and other issues related to your network of veins. It also fades dark spots and pink scars.
An aesthetic laser that was first developed to remove unwanted tattoos, but newer techniques rejuvenate skin by improving skin texture and discoloration.