If you’ve been considering IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) or other light-based treatments to address pigmentation problems in the skin, but you’re confused about whether this is right for you, consider these simple guidelines.
Sun Spots and Freckles
Small, round scatters of pigmentation that are not elevated from the skin respond very well to IPL. Treatment generally causes an immediate darkening of the spots. The pigment then naturally sheds in a week to 10 days, leaving more even skin tone and fewer freckles behind. A second treatment may be beneficial for even more clearing, and over time and even with incidental sun exposure, you may develop new spots.
Whether flattened or dome-shaped like a mole, any pigmented lesion that is elevated from the skin even a little bit should be carefully evaluated for potential pre-cancerous or cancerous conditions before being treated.
Patches of Darker Skin
If you have patches of sun spots or freckles that are more continuous than spotty, you likely have melasma-a pigmentation disorder deep within the dermis and most commonly caused by hormones, stress and UV damage. IPL in these cases is unpredictable. Estimates reflect one-third of cases get better, one-third see no change and one-third of the pigmentation is worsened after IPL. Why the potential to worsen your condition? Pigment is a defense mechanism for the skin from UV and other aggressors. How you’ll react to IPL is best determined by a spot “test” treatment, rather than potentially making conditions over your entire face worse. If you have melasma, seek out a dermatologist who is patient enough to help you find the right solution-including light, skincare and sun protection-to treat your condition.
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