A photofacial is a generic term for a skin treatment that uses some form of light-based technology. The two main types of photofacials rely on LED (light-emitting diode) and IPL (intense pulsed light) to treat skin woes. Generally, when people refer to photofacials, they’re talking about IPL photofacials, which are also called intense pulsed light therapy, photo rejuvenation, BBL therapy, or broadband light therapy.

An IPL photofacial is a noninvasive, nonablative treatment that uses high-intensity pulses of visible light to improve such skin conditions as fine lines and wrinkles, freckles, age spots, rosacea, port-wine stains, and facial veins. It may also help treat mild to moderate acne and stretch marks, and it spurs collagen production.

The practitioner applies a gel to the treatment area and chooses a setting on the device based on the client’s skin type and color. The practitioner then places the treatment head to the skin and delivers precise pulses of light to the skin. The treatment generally lasts about 20 minutes. Though the light is safe, it is recommended that clients and practitioners wear goggles or some form of eye protection during the procedure.

What happens during the treatment?

IPL systems target cells with color in the skin, delivering light energy that converts to heat energy. For example, the device might target the melanin in the skin’s surface to remove the discoloration that causes age spots. Most systems use filters to refine the light-energy output for certain areas. The treatment targets the lower layers of skin without affecting the top layers.

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Is there any downtime?

There is minimal downtime. Clients can have the procedure done on their lunch break and return to work afterward. Some may experience

redness for a few hours. Overall, IPL photofacial side effects can include redness, peeling, swelling, blistering, scarring, and skin discolorations.

Photofacial results perpetually improve over time, with best results being seen three months after the last treatment. Sun protection and skin care maintenance are essential to the longevity of the results. Sunburns and over exposure will bring back old spots and freckles and dullness will return if proper exfoliation during daily routines are neglected. A new series of treatments are recommended every year for optimal results.

IPL Treatments, or Photofacials, help reduce or eliminate the following:


  • Age and sun spots
  • Acne scars
  • Brown skin spots
  • Rosacea and other skin redness
  • Birthmarks
  • Varicose veins
  • Hyper-pigmented areas
  • Broken capillaries
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