Liver spots, age spots, sun spots—they’re all the same thing: those brown blemishes that appear on your hands, your face, your arms and chest as time goes by.
They have something else in common, too. They’re all caused by extended exposure to sunlight. If these spots form actinic keratosis, that can lead to skin cancer. At minimum the dark spots, loss of skin tone and texture, and the broken capillaries that rise up make you feel less like you in the mirror.
MedSpa at ChristiMD offers IPL Treatment in Houston, TX, to get rid of the spots, and get back your smooth, even skin tone.
Contact us for more information, and read on to become enlightened about this light therapy.
When Light Causes Darkness
Sunlight can do some pretty amazing things for you. Beside helping your pothos plant become a viny monster on your window sill, sunlight boosts your brain’s production of serotonin. That gives you more energy, plus helps you feel calm, focused, and overall more positive.
Yay for the sun!
Sunlight also makes your skin produce melanin, the substance that gives your skin its color (aka pigment). That tan you love? That’s melanin. However, too much of a good thing is not a good thing.
Constant exposure to sunlight, especially without protection and for periods long enough to cause sunburn, can set you up for many different issues down the road. The worst? Skin cancer (melanoma). At minimum, you’ll most likely experience a non-life-threatening but aesthetically displeasing phenomena known as age spots, or solar lentigines.
Age spots, also called sun spots and liver spots (though they have nothing to do with your liver), are small, dark areas of skin where hyperpigmentation occurs. The skin cells in these spots have gone into overdrive making melanin, causing them to appear darker than the other skin. They frequently look like large freckles.
Where Age Spots Occur
Age spots happen where skin is most frequently exposed to sunlight. IPL treatment in Houston, TX, addresses age spot hyperpigmentation anywhere it occurs. The areas most frequently exposed to sunlight, and therefore become affected by sun spots, include:
The areas receiving most IPL treatment include the face, neck, décolletage, arms and hands, because they’re exposed generally year-round.
What is “IPL”?
IPL stands for “intense pulsed light.” People have called it a laser treatment, though it’s not technically a laser.
At MedSpa at ChristiMD, our staff of trained aesthetic providers use the advanced Cutera® Limelight system for IPL treatment in Houston. This intense pulsed light therapy works on the principle of selective photothermolysis, where different skin tone targets require different wavelengths of light applied at the correct depth to disrupt the melatonin.
The IPL Treatment Process
Prior to treatment, you’ll meet with our team for a one-on-one consultation to make a proper recommendation. We’ll thoroughly examine your skin, noting not only age spots, but also redness (rosacea) and burst capillaries (spider veins).
We’ll give you a pair of comfortable protective goggles for your eyes, and your non-treatment areas will be covered with light towels or blankets for extra protection. Your provider applies a numbing gel/cream to the treatment area 30 minutes prior to treatment, then cleans it gently but thoroughly directly prior to treatment.
The Cutera Limelight IPL device takes visible light in a spectrum of wavelengths, and distributes it to your skin via flashes (pulses) in the treatment areas. Depending on your specific hyperpigmentation issues and your skin condition, your provider will customize the device settings to create the correct treatment wavelength and penetration.
During your IPL therapy session, the treatment applicator will pulse with bright light, almost like your own personal paparazzi! Most patients describe it as having a “zingy” or “spicey” sensation.
The discolored cells and superficial red vessels in your skin absorb this intense pulsed light energy without damaging the normal skin above them. The vessels will disappear over time, and the brown spots will darken, then rise up and flake off.
Treatment time depends on the area being treated, and the severity of the sun spots. On average, an entire face takes around 30 minutes per treatment, while a neck and chest is around 45 minutes.
After Your IPL Treatment Session
IPL treatment in Houston is non-ablative and non-invasive. You can get back to your social activities with no downtime needed. After each IPL treatment you will experience a slight redness, similar to a sunburn.
We will apply a deep moisturizer and sunscreen to your treatment areas, and you’re ready to go. We absolutely recommend continuing to use quality moisturizers on the area, especially during the healing phases. And we always recommend sunscreen! As Texans so close to the gulf waters, we love some fun in the sun. But we know that protection means health now and in the future, so sunscreen-up, cowgirl!
Within a few days the hyperpigmented cells will rise to the surface of your skin, looking similar to dark spots like coffee grounds. You may experience itchiness on these spots, but don’t scratch them! Let your body do its magic. The disrupted age spots will eventually flake off, exposing more evenly-toned skin. That’s when you’ll notice a big difference with your skin becoming more clear and youthful-looking!
How many IPL treatments are needed?
Typically, we schedule an IPL series of 3 one month apart. This allows your body time to heal between treatments, discarding the disrupted hyperpigmented cells. Then we can assess the results and address any remaining pigmentation issues.
Benefits of IPL Treatment in Houston, TX
As one of the most effective anti-aging light treatments available, and the most gentle, IPL therapy at MedSpa at ChristiMD provides many advantages, including:
- Non-invasive treatment
- Dissolves discolored skin cells
- Addresses rosacea redness
- Lightens or dispels spider veins
- Gentler than true laser treatments
- Replenishes collagen
- Little to no downtime
- Less than 1 hour per treatment
Safe for Your Face
One of the biggest pluses for IPL treatment is the fact that it can be used on your face! Often called an IPL photofacial, it can remove age spots from the sensitive skin on your face in ways that more aggressive therapies are not suitable.
IPL treatment in Houston also provides even more benefits for your face, including helping with the causes of acne. The procedure kills harmful bacteria, reducing the inflammation and redness of an acne outbreak. And because IPL encourages your skin to shed and renew layers, repeated treatments help to reduce scar tissue caused by acne.
Rosacea “redness” can also be greatly reduced or eliminated with an IPL photofacial. And you can do IPL along with other treatments for a full anti-aging regimen.
And because exposure to the sun can increase the appearance of freckles, IPL treatment reduces or eliminates freckles for a more even skin tone.
Who Shouldn’t Get IPL Treatment in Houston
IPL is best for areas with sun damage. Most often with our patients, those areas include the face, neck, décolletage, hands, and arms that got sun damage. However, IPL therapy was designed for people with paler, lighter skin, skin types. Most aestheticians include the 1 to 3 skin types for possible treatment.
With the lighter skin types, the IPL energy can more readily target the melanin in age spots, along with spider/varicose veins.
People with a nice olive or darker complexion may not be suitable candidates for IPL due to the higher natural melanin content in their skin. Instead, your MedSpa at ChristiMD provider would look at other options to suit your skin type and your goals!
How is ChristiMD’s IPL Treatment in Houston different?
Dr. Christi and the staff at MedSpa at ChristiMD use the Cutera® Limelight IPL. This advanced intense pulsed light device offers the unique ability to shift the treatment wavelengths depending on the application and skin type.
Basically, we can treat more skin tones and accommodate the melanin and hemoglobin absorption as well as the cooling and time of pulse delivery.
But don’t take our word for it. In a clinical paper from Scripps Clinic Dermatologist Victor Ross, he said:
“The LimeLight device is unique in its design because it makes pulsed light much more specific for the condition it’s treating and is able to shift between modes/wavelengths for different skin types and severity of conditions. It’s similar to having three different wavelengths in one box using the shorter wavelengths in the 500-600 nm range for vascular type procedures and longer wavelengths for pigment.”
What should I expect after treatment?
After your IPL treatment in Houston, TX, you should expect the following:
- Redness in the treatment area for up to 24 hours
- Darkening and crusting of the age spots/freckles within 24 hours and for up to 3 to 4 days
- Flaking of “coffee ground looking spots” for a week to 2 weeks
- Re-treatment after the crusting has cleared, and at least a month after previous treatment
- You should avoid artificial tanning and sun exposure without sun protection for 4 weeks following each treatment
How far in advance should I do IPL before an event/vacation?
If you’re having IPL photofacial therapy to prepare for an event, your last treatment should be at least 1 month in advance of the event, so that your body has time to slough off the disrupted hyperpigmented cells and replace them with healthier, more youthful looking skin.
Can I wear makeup after my IPL treatment?
Yes, you can wear makeup after your IPL treatment. We do recommend hydrating products if you choose to apply makeup. You should avoid makeup that requires stringent cleansers to remove.
How often should I get IPL treatment?
Every patient is different, but in general, a typical treatment protocol consists of 3 to 5 treatments performed approximately every 4 weeks. After the last treatment, maintenance treatments can be scheduled as long as they’re 4 weeks after the most recent IPL session.
Undo Sun Damage With IPL
We love the sun for what it does! But over time, the sun can do more than we want.
Address age spots/sun spots/liver spots with the gentle-yet-effective power of IPL treatment in Houston. And get the added benefits for addressing skin redness, spider veins, and the bacteria that causes acne. That’s the right kind of light!
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Christi, and let’s take a look at your specific situation. We can determine if IPL treatment is the right course of action, and get you on your way to more even, youthful-looking skin!