Notice that most of the side-effects experienced by our members are never mentioned as even remote possibilities as side-effects:
What is IPL?
IPL stands for intense pulsed light. The machine contains a flash lamp, this is an
extremely bright light source. The shorter dangerous wavelengths are filtered out. A
computer is used to set the length of the flash and calibrate the machine. IPL is used to
treat a wide variety of conditions apart from Rosacea such as red birthmarks, pigmented
skin lesions, thread veins and unwanted hair. There are several different manufacturers
of IPL machines, all with different names. We use a Vasculight Quantum machine
manufactured by Lumenis. This is an improvement on their earlier Photoderm machine.
What does the treatment involve?
You will be asked to keep your face as pale as possible by avoiding sun exposure before
and during your course of treatment. At your first visit you can discuss the pros and cons
of treatment and a patch test can be performed to check the reaction of your skin. A week
later the first full treatment is carried out. The whole of the affected are will be treated,
except in men where the beard area is avoided. There is a feeling of heat during the
treatment and your face will be redder for a short while afterwards. Cooling packs can be
applied afterwards. You will need to wear goggles to protect your eyes from the intense
light. A course of 4 - 6 treatments at 3-4 week intervals produces the best benefit.
Improvement may continue for many weeks after the course has finished. Rosacea is a
relapsing condition and this treatment improves the appearance but does not cure the
Rosacea. If you have active inflammatory Rosacea then this will need to be controlled
with medication before you can have IPL treatment.
How does it work?
It is believed that the IPL has two actions that help in Rosacea. Firstly red thread veins
absorb the light energy, this makes them hot. This damage encourages the body to
reabsorb them, impro,ring the appearance. Seccl1dly the light energy "vvarms the collagen
fibres in the skin this stimulates new collagen and collagen remodelling, this improves
the support of the small blood vessels which helps to delay the development of more
What are the possible unwanted effects?
IPL light is not thought to be cancer forming as it utilises visible and infra red light that is
outside the ultraviolet range that causes sunburn, skin cancer, and aging of the skin. The
flashes of bright light that are produced may damage the eyes so goggles have to be worn
during the treatment. The treatment is generally well tolerated but some patients find it
unpleasant. Exposure is limited to an extremely short flash that feels like the snap of a
rubber band. A mild burning sensation can be felt for a while afterwards. Occasionally
there is some swelling that will subside in a day or two. The beard area is avoided in men
as the treatment may cause some hair loss. Bruising is unlikely but if it occurs will settle
in a few days. There is a chance that pigment changes may occur in the skin, either dark
marks, hyperpigmentation, or pale marks, hypopigmentation. These are temporary and
fade in 1 - 6 months. To help reduce the risk of this it is very important that sun exposure
is avoided for 4 weeks before your treatment and throughout the course of treatment.
Crusting and blistering may occur after the treatment, this is best left to heal undisturbed
so as to reduce the risk of scarring. It is important that you follow any aftercare
Who should not have IPL treatment?
Patients with light sensitivity should not have IPL treatment. Darker skin types are not
suitable for light treatment because the intense light can damage the natural skin pigment.
Its effects during pregnancy are unknown and it is safer to avoid the treatment when
pregnant. You should not have IPL treatment if you-have any-suntan however mild. You
should not have IPL treatment whilst taking Roaccutane (Isotretinoin) or for 12 months
What alternative treatments are available?
The inflammatory part of rosacea causes spots, these should be treated with antibiotics,
either by rubbing them on as a lotion or taking them by mouth as tablets. If the
inflammatory type of rosacea is left untreated it will cause more thread veins. Lasers can
be used for treating the thread veins and these are an alternative to IPL. The pulse dye
laser has been used for many years for facial thread veins, it leaves dark bruises for a
week or two. The KTP laser is also used this leaves less bruising but there is a slightly
increased risk of scarring.