Other Associated Terms: Photorejuvenation, IPL Photorejuvenation, Photofacials.
As time progresses, we begin to see the signs of aging on our skin. This process can be accelerated by external factors such as sun exposure as well as the effects of gravity and hormone changes. All of this can translate into a break down of the collagen that gives our skin its’ young appearance. Once this begins to happen, lines and wrinkles will appear that can rob us of the vibrant, youthful look that we once had.
However, there are procedures available that can assist with the restoration of that youthful look in an easy, safe and effective way. Photo rejuvenation is a method that uses intense light in order to provide a less invasive way of achieving smoother, younger looking skin. It’s used to treat only the affected areas of the face, neck, hands and chest while not affecting the surrounding tissue.
Photorejuvenation can provide many benefits that can include, for example, virtually no recovery time and little discomfort. Other benefits include; regaining a more youthful look (through collagen stimulation), reducing wrinkles, enhancing self-esteem, reducing the effects of rosacea, reducing the size of pores (by lessening oiliness) and providing a more even skin tone (by removing age spots, sun spots and darker blotches on the face).
Ideal candidates for photorejuvenation are those who are looking to improve their appearance without the discomfort, risk and recovery issues of more invasive surgical techniques. Candidates should be in good health and be aware of the realistic results that can be expected from their treatment(s).
Those who are allowed to perform photorejuvenation treatments will vary from state to state and can include doctors, certified physician’s assistants, Registered Nurses and, in some states, licensed aestheticians are cleared to work with certain lasers. All, however, should have experience with laser techniques. It’s recommended, though, if you are considering photorejuvenation, you should first seek a qualified dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon that can perform your procedure.
The procedure, itself, can take from 15 – 45 minutes. This depends on the area that is being treated. When you first arrive at the treatment facility, you will be taken to the laser room and your eyes will be protected by eye pads or glasses with specialized lenses.
Then a cooling gel is applied to the treatment area on your skin. The laser tool will have a glass surface that is applied to the skin and light pulses will begin to flash. At that point, you will feel a slight stinging sensation. When the pulses of laser light are applied to the skin, the skin tissues absorb the light’s energy and this is what stimulates collagen production.
When the treatment is concluded, the gel is wiped off, the area is cleaned with a warm towel or cloth and a moisturizer containing a sunscreen is applied. A cold pack may be applied for a few minutes if there is evidence of any swelling. In most cases, you will be allowed to apply foundation makeup afterwards.
A series of six treatments will usually be required for optimal results and there will usually be a 3-4 week interval between treatments. This can vary, however, depending on the patient’s skin condition and the area to be treated. Most patients will notice a smoother feel and look to their skin, even after the first treatment. Each subsequent treatment should produce greater improvements.
There is no extensive recovery time for photorejuvenation. There will be temporary, mild swelling and possibly some crusting, a small blister or a small bruise. Other side effects are rare and should be covered in your consent form review.
For the treatment of veins, the skin may look slightly more red, for the next 2-5 days, after the procedure. The patient is usually allowed to use makeup to cover these issues.
Age spots and freckles will tend to look darker for the first 3-7 days following treatment. These will begin to clear and should be in the process of resolving in about a month. It should be noted that, on the average, it will take 3-5 treatments for age spots to fully clear.
The length of time that results last will depend on the amount of sun exposure received after treatment. Unprotected sun exposure will cause brown spots and/or redness to return. However, proper care of the skin will keep your skin looking good with annual maintenance procedures. In order to maintain collagen growth, a treatment may be indicated every 6-12 months.
Risks Associated with Photo Rejuvenation
IPLs (Intense Pulsed Light) can cause burns that can be serious. So, be aware of spas that have no medical doctor in their facility and have lasers that are “technician operated” (with limited training). “Technician” is a term that is often used to describe someone with no medical background. This situation is best avoided.
Possible risks can include scabbing, blistering, bruising and pigmentation changes. Most of these issues are temporary, though.
The average cost for a full facial treatment runs $300 - $500 depending on the region where it is performed and the experience of the practitioner. This will work out to $1,000 - $2,500 for a series of 3-5 treatments. A combination chest-neck-face treatment can cost $800 - $1,000 or more. This would translate into $4,000 - $5000 for the entire series. Hand treatments are usually about $250.
You should approach “deals” and price “specials” with caution. IPL equipment that is sold to spas and salons is not as powerful as the equipment that is sold to doctor’s offices. The treatments may appear to be a good deal when, in essence, you would not be receiving the same laser treatment or benefit from the expertise of a doctor’s office.
Things to Discuss with Your Doctor During Your Consultation
Your initial consultation should cover several issues regarding the treatment that you are considering. These issues include items such as; are your results realistic? Is this a good procedure to address my needs and why? What is the doctor’s level of experience in photorejuvenation techniques (how many procedures has he or she performed over the last year)? Where will the procedure be performed and how long will it take? What risks are there and how many patients have experienced complications in this practice? What will the recovery be like? How long do the results last?
You should also view numerous before and after photos and discuss total costs for achieving your desired results. If needed, financing options should also be discussed.