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Aesthetics Practice Today

Caution: Intense Pulsed Light Ahead

Published July 23, 2013 11:15 AM by Mina Grasso
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments are one of the first treatments that were introduced to the fast growing aesthetic market. IPL is used for photorejuvenation and hair removal. A newer term used is Broad Band Light (BBL), which is virtually the same type of technology. These procedures are probably the most popular treatments in aesthetic practices today. 

Intense Pulsed Light is a very safe tool when used appropriately, but patient selection is crucial. The risk of burns is higher with darker skin types, location off-the-face and exposure to natural outdoor or indoor UV exposure. 

Summer time presents as one of the most dangerous seasons to perform photorejuvenation (IPL) treatments. It's usually a frantic bride-to-be just a few weeks prior to her wedding who presents to our clinic with a foot print pattern of redness and blistering on her face, chest or arms. 

Surprisingly, most of the cases I have seen are Fitzpatrick skin type II-III when the settings used were too aggressive and not enough attention was spent on recent sun exposure history. Oftentimes the practitioner may ask about the recent sun exposure but may have not specifically inquired about tanning bed exposure.

Patients are so familiar with IPL that they have presented to our clinic with the settings that were used on them at another clinic and request a higher setting to be used. Beware of these patients.

The settings on IPL devices can vary greatly. Newer devices have added safety features of various cooling methods. If a patient was treated with an IPL with cooling then goes to another clinic that may have an older device without cooling, a disaster can occur if the same settings are used.

Patient selection is the most important thing to pay attention to in avoiding intense burns with these devices. Anyone with recent sun exposure should automatically be disqualified to have IPL treatment for photorejuvenation or hair removal.

Realistic expectations must be set. Patients need to understand that a series of treatments is required for optimal results. Don't try to be a hero, especially if your patient is getting married in a month.


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About this Blog

    Occupation: Physician Assistant/Nurse Practitioner
    Setting: Miami & Upland, Calif.
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