A few months back I was invited to experience an IPL laser facial treatment at Pulse Dermatology & Laser in Kenridge, but my nerves about the treatment saw me postpone it, twice!
You see I struggle with redness/ rosacea and I had a family wedding coming up which meant I couldn’t risk any extra crazy redness or outbreaks prior to the wedding. Plus I’m a complete baby when it comes to pain or blood or scary/ weird treatments that involve needles or lasers or anything unknown….
Except then I realised that the whole reason why I started this Behind-the-Scenes Beauty series was to experience these treatments and share my story with you so that you know what you’re getting into beforehand!
So I did it…. for you!
I finally made my way out to Pulse Dermatology & Laser to put myself at the mercy of the laser.
What is IPL?
IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light and it is a cutting edge skin rejuvenating treatment that combines IPL Photo rejuvenation with the skin tightening effects of Radio frequency (RF) treatment
PDL Laser technology is based on the same principle as laser, but it emits a broad spectrum of pulsed light (IPL) to reach several layers of the skin while an ice therapy tip allows patients to have stronger, more effective treatments than ever before while still in complete comfort.
These two light treatments also work simultaneously which means you can treat multiple conditions at the same time with just one laser.
“We are thrilled to have been one of the first clinics in South Africa to introduce our fantastic E-lite laser facial. Through the ice tip – for complete patient comfort, and the added radio frequency, we are able to give patients added skin tightening benefits.”
– Amy Bowie, owner of Pulse Dermatology and Laser
What does the treatment treat?
This treatment is specifically created with those in mind who have been exposed to the sun and suffered the adverse effects of the sun on their skin (sun damage, pigmentation, broken capillaries, spider veins and Rosacea). I think that’s pretty much ALL of us, right??
How does it work?
IPL treatments are performed using a handheld device that delivers a broad spectrum of light onto the skin’s surface. The wavelengths of light penetrate deep into the skin tissue to stimulate the cells beneath the skin’s surface, and triggers the body’s response to eliminates injured tissues and dead skin cells.
IPL treatments are typically administered in a series of 4-6 treatments performed at intervals of a minimum of 3 weeks.
I went along not quite knowing what to expect, and to be honest my anxiety levels peaked when I lay down on the bed. Fortunately Amy was very calm and relaxed and spoke me through the whole process, first chatting to me about what I wanted to treat and then explaining the procedure.
She first used a mild fruit acid peel on my face to eliminate the dead skin cells and allow the laser and product to penetrate deeper into my skin. Then she gave me a set of googles to wear and applied a freezing cold gel (similar to the ultrasound gel) all over my face. It was VERY cold, but I suppose the purpose of this is so that you don’t feel the light/ laser on your face.
Then it was time for the laser itself. Amy prepared me by telling me how she would be using the laser on my face – 3 across my jaw, then 3 across my cheek and a few from my temple to the bridge of my nose. She then would do the other side of my face and finish off on my forehead.
I can’t say the laser was very pleasant… As she kept saying “Hate me today, love me tomorrow” I figured it would be worth it so I bit the bullet and just went for it.
The laser is a short, bright burst that feels like a mild shock or sting on the skin which is accompanied by a bright light. She does the 3 bursts for each area fairly quickly so each section is over pretty soon. The area on the jaw is manageable, the cheek ok, but around the eye it’s quite intense. I think it helped that I’d had laser hair removal before on my lip area so I knew what to expect in terms of the bright “blitz” but I found that this laser was more intense, I suppose because it was penetrating the skin to break down the pigment and it was also targeting my veins and capillaries.
What are the expected results?
The results of IPL include an improvement in the texture, quality, colour and health of your skin.
IPL Skin Treatments using Photo Rejuvenation will effectively:
- Treat broken & spider veins and capillaries
- Reduce redness caused by broken capillaries and Rosacea
- Eliminate Spider Veins
- Treat imperfections from sun damage and photo-ageing age spots (freckles, brown & red spots)
- Even out skin colour for a more youthful rejuvenated look
- Decrease fine lines and wrinkles
- Treat enlarged pores, acne and acne scarring
Aside from these benefits, the heat energy that is generated stimulates new collagen production beneath the skins surface, which promotes skin firmness and encourages your collagen to rebuild and regenerate itself.
Results can be seen from as early as 10 days after the first treatment. After a series of IPL treatments (at intervals spaced approx 4 weeks apart) the skin will appear more luminous, brighter and smoother. The results continue to improve long after the treatment, as IPL stimulates your own natural collagen to rebuild and rejuvenate the skin. The PDL Laser can be performed on the face, neck, chest and hands.
The procedure is non-invasive with minimal adverse effects post treatment although the intensive light can cause slight swelling and redness in the treatment area, especially in areas where the skin is very thin or especially fragile. However, any redness or soreness typically subsides within a few hours after the procedure.
The most common side effects are as follows:
- Discomfort – a hot sensation may last for up to an hour after treatment. A cold compress or icepack may be used if desired.
- Blistering – there is always a slight possibility of developing a crust or blister, this is superficial and does not result in any scarring.
- Change of pigment – hypo (lighter) or hyper (darker) pigmentation occurs when there has been exposure to sunlight before or after treatment. This must be avoided 3-4 weeks before and after treatment.
- Excessive swelling – immediately after treatment the skin may swell temporarily and should subside within hours but can last up to 7 days.
- Fragile skin – the skin at or near the treatment site may become fragile – avoid makeup and do not rub the area.
- Bruising – a bruise may appear on the treated area and can last from 5-15 days.
My Results & Feedback
After my initial discomfort during the treatment (esp around the eyes) I found the forehead area far easier to handle. Amy then suggested we treat one or two broken capillaries on the side and bridge of my nose as well as another spot or two on my cheeks. I figured I was there, we may as well get it done! The cheeks were ok, the side of my nose rather uncomfortable and the bridge of my nose actually very tolerable! One more deep breath and it was all over.
My face felt ever so slightly swollen after the treatment and Amy suggested using a cold pack on it later in the day but as the day went on I found I didn’t actually need to.
The most noticeable difference in my skin immediately was that a few dark patches of pigment started to surface. I had known I had a few areas of pigmentation, but these small specks were much darker and more noticeable (like tiny little freckles) Amy told me to expect these, so I didn’t panic, and made sure to apply a little bit more foundation for the next few days (in fact you can apply makeup before you walk out the door!)
Now, about a week later, they have disappeared altogether and my skin is looking a lot smoother and clearer than before – and this just after 1 treatment. I would love to know what happens after a series of treatments, especially for those who really struggle with pigmentation! As pigmentation is deposited at various layers of the skin it takes up to 6 treatments to reach the deeper layers of pigment and achieve optimal results.
I also saw a reduction in the obvious red capillaries and broken veins on my cheeks and nose area. After chatting to Amy I realised that this is an especially popular treatment for men, who don’t have the benefit of hiding their bad skin behind makeup, and she has a growing male clientele.
Obviously after a treatment like this it’s very important to avoid prolonged sun exposure so it’s advisable to wear a hat and use SPF 50 on your face for 4 weeks before treatment and then for the 4 weeks after it. This treatment cannot take place if you have a suntan.
It’s also recommended that you don’t have a hot bath or shower for 48 hours post-treatment. Other heat treatments such as exercise or saunas should also be avoided.
Tel: 021 914 0447/ 074 027 6919
Unit 1B, The Ridge Office Park, Door De Kraal Road, Kenridge
Small area (nose): R510
Medium area (cheeks): R950
Large area (face): R1300
Face & neck: R1600
Face, neck & chest: R2500
Course prices: Buy 2 treatments and get 3rd treatment half price or buy 4 treatments and get 2 free sessions for the same area.
Images: Supplied and Kathryn Rossiter