Are you one of the many Americans who has age spots, freckles, acne scars, hemangiomas, broken vessels or other skin issues of the face? Are you are interested in improving your appearance but don’t want the expense or downtime of traditional surgery? The experts at H-MD Medical Spa in Oklahoma City, OK offer a nonsurgical procedure called photorejuvenation that may be just what you’re looking for.
What Is Photorejuvenation?
Photorejuvenation, also known as IPL (intense pulsed light) or Photofacial, is an increasingly popular non-invasive method of renewing the skin of the face and neck to create a clearer, brighter, more youthful appearance. Both men and women can benefit from undergoing treatment, which normally takes 30 to 90 minutes per session. Your treatment specialist will determine how many sessions are right for you.
The procedure is performed by using pulsed light to heat the surface of the skin. This heat is then absorbed deep into the skin, encouraging increased collagen production. The results are improvement of scars, aging skin, rosacea, angioma, acne-related issues, and other skin problems.
Tightening of pores, improvement of fine lines and wrinkles, evening out of skin color or pigmentation, and reversal of sun damage are some additional benefits of treatment. IPL can also be used to perform hair removal.
What Can You Expect?
Because IPL is a non-invasive procedure, there is no waiting period for stitches to heal or bandages to be removed. Patients leave the treatment facility just as they came in, with no visible changes to the face and no dressings. However, there is still a post-treatment recovery and healing time that is to be expected and which is absolutely normal.
During this post-treatment period, patients will not experience any need for bed rest, time away from work, or avoiding social situations. While mild improvements in the skin may be evident right away, the most dramatic results from IPL treatment do not appear instantly; instead, they occur over time.
In the first few hours to a week, patients will see visible changes in the skin, but these are clear signs that the treatment is proceeding exactly the way it is supposed to. These minor and gradual changes will clear steadily over three to seven days in most cases. Following the advice of your IPL treatment specialist during this time will encourage more rapid recovery and healing.
Again, while the healing process is in the early stages, a majority of patients are able to return to their normal daily activities almost immediately or by the day following treatment. However, there are a few simple Dos and Don’ts for the immediate post-procedure period and beyond to ensure that patients get the best result possible following photorejuvenation treatment.
What Should You Avoid After Photorejuvenation?
Scratching or Picking at the Skin
Immediately after photorejuvenation treatment, scratching, picking at, or otherwise disturbing any changing areas is discouraged. Care should also be taken not to vigorously scrub or rub the sensitive skin when cleansing. Patting the skin dry with a soft towel is recommended rather than rubbing.
Following the procedure, it is vitally important to avoid direct exposure to the sun or tanning beds for at least 30 days after the procedure. In fact, patients should bring an SPF30 sunscreen to their treatment appointment so it can be applied before heading outdoors. The treated skin is very sensitive and highly susceptible to damage during the post-treatment period.
Suntanning and tanning beds should also be avoided for 30 days prior to treatment, as the increase in pigmentation can continue after the direct sun exposure has stopped. Additionally, tanned or burned skin cannot be treated. Liberal and frequent application of an appropriate sunscreen is required to protect the new skin from damage due to UV rays. Remember that even waterproof sunscreens only last about 80 to 90 minutes, so reapply your protection often. Ask your IPL treatment specialist for sunscreen recommendations.
Due to the risk of hyperpigmentation, or darkening of the skin, the use of self-tanning products is strongly discouraged for at least 30 days following treatment. This includes sprays, creams, and lotions, including regular lotions such as Jergens that contain self-tanning ingredients.
Additionally, the use of these products should be stopped at least two weeks prior to treatment to avoid the risk of hyperpigmentation. If these products have been used within 14 days prior to treatment, thorough removal via vigorous washing or scrub is recommended to remove all traces of the product from the skin.
During the first 48 hours following the procedure, strenuous physical activity or exercise should be avoided. Overheating of the skin can reduce the effectiveness of the procedure, which could result in a less-than-optimal appearance. Running, exercise, hot yoga, and other physical activities should be put on hold for at least two days.
Exposure to Hot Water
During the first 48 hours following IPL, patients should avoid hot baths, hot showers, and hot tubs. While cleansing the face with a mild cleanser twice a day is important, the water temperature should be cool or warm rather than hot. Warm showers are also okay. Avoiding hot water and steam is another way to prevent overheating of the skin and reduction in the overall results of the procedure.
Because swimming pools and hot tubs contain chlorine, it is recommended that these be avoided immediately after IPL treatment. Exposure to chlorine and other pool chemicals can cause irritation of the treated areas.
Applying makeup to the skin should be avoided for at least 12 hours following treatment. The skin should be given time to rest and heal from the laser treatment before products other than moisturizer and sunscreen are resumed. The mild redness that occurs after treatment will fade over 12 to 24 hours following treatment, so time and patience are recommended while covering up the redness with makeup is strongly discouraged. All redness should be gone before makeup use is restarted.
Using Harsh Chemical Products
Patients can prevent damage to treated skin by avoiding the use of harsh chemical products on the treated areas. Products containing alpha-hydroxy, large amounts of Vitamin A, retinoic acid, or glycolic acid, as well as Accutane or Retin-A should be avoided. Additionally, Accutane products should be stopped six months prior to photorejuvenation treatment, and Retin-A products such as Renova, Zianan, Atralin, or Epiduo, should be stopped one week prior to treatment.
Remember to consult your prescribing physician before stopping any medication, even topical agents, and ask your treatment specialist when you can safely restart your prescriptions. In addition, waxing products and depilatory or epilating creams should not be used for at least two weeks after treatment or until the skin is no longer sensitive.
The use of high-alcohol-content products such as toners and astringents is also discouraged to avoid irritation. Cleansing the face with a mild cleanser and cool to warm water is recommended in the two weeks following the procedure, as is the use of a gentle moisturizer, but the use of harsher products should be strictly avoided for at least 14 days.
For the first one to two weeks following treatment, the skin is still in the healing process. During this time, patients are strongly encouraged to avoid exfoliating the skin. Exfoliating, including the use of cleansing brushes, retinols, Vitamin A, and scrubs, can cause irritation and may cause hypopigmentation, or lighter areas on the skin.
The normal darkened areas that appear following treatment will shed on their own in seven to 10 days, but it takes much longer, as long as four to six weeks, for the body to completely eradicate these dark spots. After one to two weeks, patients may return to exfoliating as part of their skin-care routine.
Two to three weeks following the procedure, it is recommended that patients undergo microdermabrasion and a facial to further remove dead skin cells and hydrate the skin. Done at the right time, these activities can actually help to enhance the results achieved following treatment. However, undergoing microdermabrasion sooner than two to three weeks out can cause damage to the treated skin. The skin must be allowed at least a full two weeks for the IPL process to run its complete course.
To avoid damaging the sensitive treated skin, facial massage should be avoided in the immediate post-procedure period. An initial waiting period of two to three days is recommended to prevent trauma to the skin, which can result in decreased results. Once the skin resumes its normal pre-procedure appearance, facial massage can be resumed.
Medications That Cause Photosensitivity
Prescription medications, such as antibiotics, that cause photosensitivity should be stopped at least one week prior to treatment. Consult with your prescribing physician before stopping any medication and to discuss treatment options. Discuss with your IPL treatment specialist when to restart prescription medications.
Medications That Affect Coagulation
Medications such as prescription anticoagulants (warfarin, Xarelto, Eliquis) and both prescription and over-the-counter NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil or Aleve), and aspirin or aspirin-containing products should be stopped at least two weeks prior to treatment. The medications can increase the risk of unwanted symptoms following treatment. Do not stop any medication without consulting with your prescribing physician first. Also, be sure to check with your skin treatment specialist to determine when restarting your medication is appropriate.
What Should You Do?
While it is important to avoid the items listed above following your photorejuvenation procedure, there are also some things you can do to help your skin to heal and recover.
- Use ice immediately after treatment
- Use a mild cleanser with cool to warm water twice daily
- Use a gentle moisturizer
- Drink plenty of water before and after treatments
- Use a sunscreen that is at least SPF30 with protection against UVA and UVB, and reapply as necessary
- Use over-the-counter treatments such as aloe vera gel and 1% hydrocortisone if needed in the first one to two weeks following treatment
- Increase collagen production by adding a stem-cell serum to your skin-care regimen
- Add a medical-grade Vitamin C serum to your regimen
- Talk to your treatment specialist immediately with any questions or concerns
Learn More or Get Started
Non-surgical Photorejuvenation is an increasingly popular alternative to traditional the face, neck, and eye lift. If you are interested in learning more about the treatment process or are ready to schedule your initial consultation, contact H-MD Medical Spa in Oklahoma City, OK today. Our helpful and knowledgeable staff is here to answer your questions and get you on your way toward the younger, brighter, fresher-looking skin you deserve.