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what is a photofacial?

10 Things Patients Should Know About the IPL Photofacial

Aesthetics / January 18, 2022

Watch out, Botox. The photofacial is quickly becoming one of the most popular aesthetic treatments in 2022—and for good reason! 

Interested in starting or continuing your skin rejuvenation journey but still asking yourself, “What is a photofacial?” Then read on to learn everything you need to know to decide whether or not a photofacial at Envision Eye & Aesthetics might work for you!

What is a photofacial?

Simply put, a photofacial is a treatment that delivers light energy into the skin to gradually reverse underlying causes of some of our patients’ most common concerns.

Other terms you may hear to reference a photofacial may include: 

  • IPL (Intense Pulsed Light)
  • BBL (BroadBand Light)
  • Forever Young Facial
  • Light therapy

Here are the 10 most important things you should know about IPL photofacials before your first treatment 👇

1. A photofacial is not actually a “laser treatment.” Here’s what Intense Pulsed Light does to your skin.

Contrary to popular belief, and to what many of our patients think when they visit us for their first-ever photofacial, IPL devices are not actually “lasers.” Rather, they deliver photoenergy into areas such as the face, neck, and/or chest.

This might just seem like semantics, but the distinction between a “laser” and a “light” device is actually pretty significant in the world of medical aesthetics.

A laser device, like the HALO, focuses on the process of resurfacing, or the removal of dead or damaged skin cells from the surface of the skin. Once we remove these cells, the immediate layer below reveals fresh, glowing skin. In that regard, laser treatments are actually fairly similar to a chemical peel; they simply use a different method of resurfacing.

Photofacials, on the other hand, don’t actually remove a significant amount of cells from the skin’s surface. Instead, they deliver energy into the deeper layers. This prompts the skin to generate new collagen and elastin fibers (the building blocks of the skin) to help tighten and reduce the appearance of acne, sun damage, and other signs of aging.

Delivering light energy into the skin using this method can actually affect the genetic makeup of the skin’s cells and cause them to appear younger at a molecular level (more on this later!).

dark-haired woman receiving a photofacial at envision aesthetics

How a Photofacial Works

Some light energy with a shorter wavelength, like X-rays and UV rays, penetrate the skin with ionizing radiation, altering your DNA and causing serious damage. The sun emits these rays, including UVA and UVB; they are to blame for premature aging, wrinkles, sagging, brown spots, and even skin cancer.

Other wavelengths, like broad band light or LED light, have therapeutic effects on the skin, selectively targeting and removing impurities when focused on a particular area. This light energy can even reverse some of the visible damage done to the skin by UV rays!

2. Photofacial technology is not new, but the device your provider uses should be.

IPL devices have been in use since 2003. And call us crazy, but that doesn’t feel like that long ago! However, photofacial technology has advanced a lot since then, so if your provider is still using a device that remembers the launch of iTunes, it’s definitely time for an upgrade.

At Envision Eye & Aesthetics in Rochester, NY, we use Sciton’s Forever Young BBL device, which is not only one of the top devices in the aesthetics world; it’s also highly customizable. Forever Young BBL is equipped with a variety of light filters to specifically target patients’ exact skin concerns within just a few minutes.

3. There are some risks to getting a photofacial, and it isn’t ideal for everyone.

Although there are very few risks associated with the photofacial, there are some symptoms that can appear in the hours following treatment, including:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Visibility of Capillaries

So, although there is no physical downtime required, you may want to consider taking some “social downtime” for the rest of the day.

Photofacials are safe for all skin types, but there are some patients who are not ideal candidates for treatment, including those who:

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have a connective tissue disease
  • Use a pacemaker
  • Have an autoimmune disorder
  • Are prone to keloids
  • Take Accutane (and for six months after stopping Accutane)

Additionally, some patients may benefit much more than others from a series of photofacials. Those who are looking to treat deep-set wrinkles, deep-set acne scarring, or skin dullness may benefit more from another type of skin rejuvenation treatment, such as a laser treatment or peel, than from a BBL. 

That said, BBL can be an excellent way to maintain or complement your results from your other med spa treatments down the road!

Are IPL Facial Treatments Equally Worth the Cost for Every Patient? → 

blonde woman receiving a photofacial at envision aesthetics

4. It can treat a huge variety of concerns, so your provider’s ability to customize the treatment is important.

Because photofacials are highly customizable, we want to make sure we can zero in on your exact concerns during a consultation before your first session. 

Using different settings and filters, Forever Young BBL can address:

With the right device, your provider can even use IPL technology for hair removal!

During your consultation, be sure to communicate your specific goals to your photofacial provider, and which of these conditions you would like to target first. We may not be able to address all of them equally in one visit. But we CAN promise to build you a treatment plan that will build upon the results of each of your visits for beautiful, youthful skin in the short- and long-term!

Here’s how to get the most out of your initial med spa consultation → 

5. It’s called a “photofacial,” but you can actually get the treatment anywhere on the body!

We can use Forever Young BBL on any of the following areas:

  • Face
  • Neck
  • Chest
  • Hands
  • Shoulders
  • Arms
  • Legs
  • Feet
  • Individual Spots

6. Getting a photofacial should be a comfortable experience.

One of the top questions we get during our consultations is, “how much does a photofacial hurt?” 

While every patient is totally different, and some feel the effects more than others, your photofacial experience should be fairly comfortable. Afterwards, you may feel like your skin has had a mild sunburn, but this sensation should not last more than a few days.

7. No, there is no downtime after a photofacial—but aftercare is paramount.

It’s up to you to maintain the results of your photofacial at home, but we can provide you with all the tools and know-how to do it right!

After your photofacial treatment in Rochester, NY at Envision Eye & Aesthetics, we will send you home with detailed post-care instructions. Here are the most important things to know:

  • Use a cold compress and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication for post-treatment swelling and redness.
  • Wash using only gentle cleansers, do not rub your skin, and avoid hot water for 2 to 3 days.
  • Apply sunscreen (SPF 30+) and moisturizer consistently. Also, consider a hat or other physical block if you plan on going into direct sunlight for even a few minutes.
  • Do not use any scrubs, exfoliants, chemicals, or topical medications on the treated area for at least 1 week.

Read Next: What to expect after a photofacial for acne

woman drinking coffee in a park after a photofacial in rochester, new york

8. The results of your IPL photofacial will be subtle at first.

You will notice immediate results of your photofacial, but they will be subtle. After any swelling and redness has resolved, your skin should feel soft and look more evenly toned than before. Your specific targeted concerns should appear slightly lessened. 

One of our favorite parts of the photofacial is that the results continue to build over time. This is because the light energy reaches the deeper layers of the skin and encourages new collagen production in the weeks that follow. With correct aftercare, your concerns should continue to improve for up to 3 months after your session!

9. But, they’ll last a long time.

After your initial series of photofacial treatments over the course of 6 months to a year, your results should remain consistent for the long haul, with only once-or-twice-yearly treatments needed to maintain those results. 

10. If “aging backwards” sounds appealing, a photofacial should be at the top of your to-do list.

Because light energy can actually affect the gene expression of your skin, photofacials are one of our favorite anti-aging treatments available in 2022! By choosing the right provider, following pre- and post-care instructions, and coming back for consistent maintenance sessions, patients actually tell us that they appear younger than they had in the years before they began treatment!

Learn more about the photofacial at Envision Aesthetics in Rochester

Envision Eye & Aesthetics is a premier med spa conveniently located in Rochester, NY near the expressway, making it easily accessible for both the east and west sides of town. With highly trained staff and high-quality products and treatments, we’re here to give you the best experience for your aesthetic enhancements. 

No matter what your goals are, we’re here to help! Get started with our virtual consultation tool and get on the path to looking and feeling your best. Or, if you’d prefer, schedule an appointment to come see us!

The safety and comfort of our customers are top priorities for us. We will always make sure that you’re comfortable with your decisions and happy with your results for a more confident you.

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