Photo facial is a generic term for a skin treatment that uses some kind of light-based technology. Photo facials (sometimes called foto facials) have a number of different uses, but are mostly used for boosting collagen or treating various skin conditions such as acne, brown spots, broken capillaries, etc.
The two main types of technology used for photo facials are LED (light-emitting diode) and IPL (intense-pulsed light). They are completely different, so it's extremely important to understand which photo facial technology is being used. That way you are more likely to get the results you hope to achieve.
An LED photo facial is a very gentle treatment that uses narrow spectrum light to boost collagen, which creates plumper, younger-looking skin, or to kill the bacteria that causes acne. This type of photo facial is more likely to be found in a day spa with a serious focus on esthetics.
LED photo facials are painless, cool and relaxing, and (unlike laser treatments) carry no risk of burning. The best results come after a series of photo facial treatments. To begin, a series of six treatments with a one-to two weeks between is recommended. After that, maintain with a treatment every month or two. It can be part of a facial or a stand-alone treatment.
LED photo facials are a good choice for people who want to boost collagen or treat acne. Their collagen-boosting, facial rejuvenation properties have been proven with medical research. The results won’t be as dramatic as plastic surgery, but it’s a gentler, more natural, less expensive way to go.
Some medical spas call IPL (intense-pulsed light), which is a type of laser treatment, a photo facial. An IPL photo facial can treat a variety of skin conditions such as brown spots, broken capillaries, spider veins, and facial redness. An IPL photo facial delivers a bright blast of light at very high energy levels through a hand-held device. While some IPLs have cooling devices, it can be uncomfortable, even painful.
The Photofacial Procedure
IPL photofacial procedure differs from the lasers in utilizing many wavelengths (or colors) in each pulse of light instead of just one wavelength. With the use of filters most IPL systems are able to provide the exact amount of energy output that is required for specific treatment of the affected area. This helps to enhance penetration and avoids the use of excessive energy reaching to the target tissue preventing any damage.
Photofacial treatment is considered a non-ablative resurfacing technique in a way that it targets the lower layers of skin (dermis) without affecting the top layers of skin (epidermis). The results are not as dramatic as ablative resurfacing where both the dermis and epidermis are injured to produce a much more noticeable overall outcome.
The advantage of IPL photofacial therapy lies in having a minimal downtime, and availability of different machines for specific treatments as described below.
For the treatment of spider and thread veins, and some vascular birthmarks.
Pigment Involved : - The light pulses are targeted at the red-pigment (haemoglobin) in the blood which heats up and destroys the blood vessels without affecting the skin or other tissues.
For the treatment of age spots, freckles, flat pigmented birthmarks and other skin discoloration problems
For the treatment of unwanted hair.
Target : - The target here is the hair follicle causing the hair to fall out and prevent further growth. Since the chromophores are involved in the treatment it is generally ineffective for light colored hair.
IPL photofacial treatments are normally straightforward. Make sure the technician has been properly trained and is experienced in IPL therapy. These treatments are relatively painless compared to other techniques such as chemical deep peels.
The sensation that is observed is likened to a light pinch or the snap of a rubber band, but some people find it distressing.
As already discussed, avoiding sun exposure in the days and weeks before and after treatment is the essential prerequisite.
Brief Outline of the Photofacial Procedure : -
Cold gel is applied to the area being treated. IPL devices often have integrated cooling systems.
A topical anesthetic may be applied to the area in case the patient is not able to withstand the pain.
The smooth, glass surface of the IPL treatment head is applied to the skin, delivering precise pulses of light to the area being treated. Treatment sessions usually last about 20 minutes.
Most patients can return to work immediately after treatment. A course of 4-6 sessions every 3-6 weeks may be needed to achieve desired results.
Side Effects are Minor and Include: -
- Pinking and a little soreness in the skin immediately after the procedure.
- Sensation of a mild sunburn (redness, peeling, swelling) that may last a few days after treatment.
- Blistering though rare can occur if the skin pigment absorbs too much light energy.
- Sometimes the pigment cells (melanocytes) can be damaged leaving darker or paler patches of skin.
- Bruising, that can affect up to 10% of patients.
- Hair loss.
All those side effects discussed above can rarely occur, otherwise the procedure is very safe and the patient is able to resume work immediacy after the procedure.
Most cosmetic surgeons are also using photofacials with intense pulse light therapy as a part of holistic skin care and skin rejuvenation program to remove blotchy hyper-pigmented macules and dilated blood vessels. The procedure greatly helps the skin to prepare it for the more aggressive procedures as the deep phenol peels.
Another advantage of this light pulse therapy is that it is well tolerated and effective on the chest, neck, and arms where deeper resurfacing is not well tolerated.
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