IPL (Intense Pulse Light) therapy aids in mitigating the brown pigmentation, blemishes and wrinkles because of aging. It involves usage of an electronically controlled flashgun that emits a broad and intense pulse spectrum of light (400-1200nm) that passes through high end filters in the device that, filters out the radiations of lower wavelengths containing harmful UV rays. The resulting spectrum is directed at the site of treatment. The rays are aimed at targeting certain components on the skin such as melanin (in hair and skin) and oxyhemoglobin (in blood vessels) in photo rejuvenation and, hair removal procedures. Unlike in other skin laser techniques wherein a spectrum of a single wavelength with a particular colour is used, IPL therapy engages a broad spectrum with multiple filters. An IPL technician aids in the therapy by selecting the suitable filter that matches correctly with the specific chromophore, which is a certain part of every molecule that absorbs light.
Intense Pulse Light Therapy
IPL therapy is primarily used in hair removal procedures, stalling excessive and unwanted hair growth in certain areas of the body. Devices such as E-light, M- light and ELOS are used in hair removal procedures in which, flashguns emit a coherent spectrum of monochromatic laser beam through a quartz block to target the melanin content in the region of unwanted hair growth. The beam enters the hair follicle and, gets absorbed in the hair shaft. As the hair shaft is heated, the papilla is destroyed thereby, removing the chances of hair growth in the particular region. However, IPL therapy is effective only on active hair follicles. This is the reason that the treatment might take about 4-6 weeks and, is carried out in a span of 8 to 10 rounds of treatment depending on whenever the hair follicles become active. Once the therapy is over, cryogen spray is applied to cool the epidermal layer that has been exposed to the IPL beam. Before the therapy is commenced with, the site of treatment must be shaven clean and, must be devoid of sun burns.
Devices used in IPL therapy work best for lighter skin tones and coarser hair. Besides treating dermatological disorders, IPL therapy has also been found to be effective in vascular and pigmentation lesions. The beam used in IPL has the ability to penetrate deeper into the tissue without increasing the risk of hyper pigmentation. IPL has been used in treatment of meibomian gland dysfunction. The meibomian glands, that are present near the eyelashes within the eyelids secrete oil to prevent the dryness in the eyes thereby, mitigating the evaporation of tears from the eyes. A dysfunction in these glands can lead to severe dryness, stickiness, burning and blurry vision. IPL therapy is one of the effective treatments for this condition. This therapy is effectively used in the treatment of following conditions:
- Acne vulgaris (clogging of hair follicles with dead cells)
- Vascular lesions (malformation of blood vessels under the skin)
- Pigmented lesions (moles and birthmarks caused by melanin deposit)
- Actinic keratosis (Flaky skin due to exposure to UV rays)
- Bowen’s disease (also referred as squamous cell carcinoma)
- Basal cell carcinoma (Cancer cell growth in the basal cells of the skin)
- Sebaceous glands Hyperplasia (Uninterrupted growth in the skin cells leading to enlargement in the organs)
- Poilkiloderma (severe pigmentation on skin due to exposure to Sun)
- Rosacea (a condition that causes redness in the face due to dilated or broken blood vessels)
Most of the IPL emission devices bear the advantage of having a huge footprint of their spot size. The rate of the treatment can be regulated by adjusting the number of pulses passed in the beam. Besides, IPL devices are more effective than pulsed dye lasers that emit laser beam of nearly 585 nm in about 450 µsec. In the latter case, the depth of penetration is at the most 1.5 nm. However, the wavelength spectrum engaged by IPL devices are broader and given that, they operate on multiple pulse sequences within flexible durations of the pulse, targeting deep rooted blood vessels with vascular lesions is faster and easier. Pulse durations are approximately less than or equal to 100 milli seconds during which, the heating across the entire targeted blood vessel is uniform. In case of small blood vessels, there is a minimum of 10 milli second delay between the pulse beams. The delay aids in epidermal cooling. For bigger blood vessels, thermal relaxation time is approximately 100 milliseconds.
During the IPL therapy, the important parameter to be considered is, the diameter of the target blood vessel. The pulse duration must be compatible with diameter of the blood vessel and, can be equal to or lower than the thermal relaxation time (time taken for the dissipation of 50% of the heat from the targeted tissue after every round of therapy) The compatibility of the diameter of the blood vessel with the pulse duration ensures protection of the surrounding blood vessels and the tissues. Usually, for skin rejuvenation, the thermal relaxation time would be about 3-5 ms. If IPL therapy is used for treatment of excessive hair removal, then the thermal relaxation time for the hair follicle is approximately 10-50 ms. Acclaimed cosmetic surgeons as Dr. Debraj Shome have conducted many cosmetic surgeries associated with medical conditions, successfully.