What is IPL laser? The acne solution you've been waiting for
While topical and oral medications have been commonly used to treat pesky adult acne, laser treatments have been taking the skincare industry by storm in recent years. If you're struggling with adult acne, are laser treatments the solution you've been waiting for?
AOL Lifestyle spoke with New York City dermatologist Dr. Estee Williams to find out everything you need to know about IPL (intense pulse light) laser treatments.
First off, how do you know if you're a perfect candidate? According to Dr. Williams, IPL laser treatments are "especially good for reducing facial redness in rosacea sufferers and removing sunspots in light-skinned patients." Other patients have also used IPL for acne reduction or complexion brightening.
During my visit, I also got a chance to try out an IPL treatment using Lumenis' M22 laser machine for myself.
A week before my visit, I was given strict instructions to prep my skin for the treatment. It included staying out of the sun or avoiding any kind of sunless tan because the machine cannot laser tan skin. Drying skincare products -- like retinoids or acidic peels -- up to 3 days before were also a no-no. And lastly, depending on how your skin reacts, you should plan ahead and avoid any major social events 4 to 5 days post-procedure.
The beauty of Lumenis' machine was that Dr. Williams had the freedom to change the laser settings based on what my skincare concerns were -- all in one 20-minute visit. For this treatment, I wanted to target any cystic acne on my chin and fresh acne scars from previous breakouts.
According to Dr. Williams, "it has a special acne filter that has been shown to reduce bacterial counts."
She added: "Lasers and lights, on the other hand, are not generally used for acne since they cannot fix the root cause -- inflammation, plugging, and bacterial growth."
In fact, Lumenis' special setting to target acne is what makes it so special. Given the rise of adult acne as a skincare concern among millennials, it truly is a game-changer.
After a few quick zaps of the laser, I was done! But how long does it take for people to see results?
"Acne gets better with a series of treatments, combined with medical therapy, while sunspots get darker and literally flake off over 7-19 days," said Dr. Williams.
Two weeks post-treatment, I can already see drastic differences in complexion. My acne scars have begun to fade and my complexion is even brighter. To maintain these results, Dr. Williams suggested I come back every 2-3 months. But if you're starting out and are using IPL to treat a skin condition, she recommends 3 monthly sessions at first to calm the condition, followed by a visit every 2 to 3 months to maintain.
But let's face it, these IPL laser treatments may set you back a pretty penny. What is another skincare alternative if you can't afford these laser treatments?
"For those looking to boost overall complexion, I highly recommend using a pad with glycolic and salicylic acids at night before bedtime -- this will exfoliate the skin and help keep it even," Dr. Williams revealed.
Check out our favorite peel pads below: