A Skin Care Guide to Photofacials

May 4th, 2011

A Skin Care Guide to Photofacials

When most people think of light and its effect on skin, they think of sunlight and skin damage. Premature aging, wrinkles, spots, and even skin cancer can result from too much sun exposure, as ultraviolet light breaks down connective tissue and alters skin cells.

Some wavelengths of light, however, can be used as a non-invasive way to treat skin problems and combat aging. This is the idea behind photofacials

LED light therapy, Photofacials, also known as “foto” facials or photorejuvenation, are any treatment using light to improve skin appearance. I will cover only two types of photofacials in this article, each depending on the skill of the operator can make a big difference in your skin.

IPL Photofacials

Intense-pulsed light (IPL) photofacials are a form of laser treatment, using high energy light. They are used to treat a variety of skin conditions, reducing or eliminating the appearance of acne scars, freckles, sun spots, broken capillaries, spider veins, birthmarks, and even facial reddening due to rosacea or other conditions. They can also produce a more youthful appearance.

IPL photofacials work by breaking down the brown and red pigment in cells beneath the skin surface; this pigment causes many of the blemishes listed above. The intense light also causes cells called fibroblasts to produce collagen, a protein that helps keep skin tight and smooth. Collagen is lost during aging, and the loss is exacerbated by sun damage. The collagen boost caused by an IPL photofacial results in younger-looking skin.

IPL photofacials can have drawbacks. Due to the intensity of light used, discomfort is common during treatment, and patients often develop a light burn equivalent to minor sunburn. The procedure should only be performed by well-trained staff, since there is the potential for painful burns and skin damage if it isn’t done correctly.

LED Photofacials

On the other hand, light-emitting diode (LED) photofacials are mild, risk-free treatments. LED photofacials use narrow spectrum visible light which will not burn or irritate skin. There are two benefits to LED photofacials. First, the light used can kill or disrupt acne-causing bacteria to reduce facial acne. Second, as with IPL photofacials, the light enters cells beneath the skin surface, stimulating collagen production to produce skin with more elasticity and fewer wrinkles. LED photofacials are common in spas and skin care salons and although you can buy handheld devices I would recommend otherwise.

The reason is that I don’t think they are nearly as powerful as those found in a spa or skin care professional’s office, so the results might be minimal at best.

Both IPL and LED photofacials are considered to be non-invasive skincare treatments by most skin care professionals, although I believe that is not the case for IPLs.

Photofacials can rejuvenate your skin, but it’s important to know the differences in these treatments and the results you will get before choosing either option.