intense pulsed light therapy

Intense pulsed light, commonly abbreviated as IPL, is a technology used by beauty studios and medical practitioners to perform various skin treatments including hair removal and photorejuvenation. The technology utilises specific wavelengths of light to target various chromophores in the skin.

Intense pulsed light describes the use of intense pulses of non-coherent light distributed over a range of wavelengths from 500 nm to 1200 nm, for removal of hair and other purposes. A related but distinct technique is laser hair removal; the primary difference is that laser treatment uses laser-generated coherent and monochromatic light.

The two techniques are often confused. One cause of confusion is the range of names used for intense pulsed light treatments, as intense pulsed light is a registered trademark, which was strongly policed during the early days of the technology, hence the introduction of new names and trademarks for similar or identical treatments.

A distinction is sometimes made between beauty-grade and medical-grade machines. This distinction is mainly to get around regulations. Under the CE system no such distinction exists, it is all seen as medical devices.

 How do I find out more?

You will need to book a consultation. This takes a full 45 minutes and is designed to allow us to assess your needs, advise you of our expectations and make our recommendations for treatment. We will then patch test to ensure that your skin reacts to the Laser or IPL in the predicted way. Consultations and patch tests are free of charge. Consultations are charged at £25 which is redeemable against any further IPL treatment.

IPL Intense Pulse Light Therapy

IPL Frequently asked questions

What system is used at The Beauty Rooms?
We use a medical grade Laser and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) system – the Lynton Luminette®, which enables us to treat up to skin type IV.

The Luminette offers the most advanced treatments currently available, providing the very best balance of clinical results, speed of treatment and client comfort.

Is the treatment painful?
No. An integrated cooling system and chilled gel are used to cool the skin. Most people experience no more than a slight tingling sensation, which may be felt a little more keenly by people with a darker complexion, as their skin will absorb more energy from the laser. In this case more attention is paid to cooling the skin, before, during and after treatment, to minimise skin reactions and discomfort.
Are there any side effects?
The most common after effect is redness of the skin that can last for a day or so. Slight blistering can occur but this is very rare and will clear up within a few days. In darker skin types, changes in skin colour can occur and you will be advised of any adjunct treatment necessary to prevent this.
Because each individual’s skin responds differently we always carry out a careful pre-treatment patch test procedure to assess individual response so that no unexpected reactions take place during a full treatment.
What can I expect immediately after treatment?
You may experience a little discomfort and a stinging sensation for an hour or so after treatment. There may also be slight swelling and a temporary redness, while the immune system response is active.
Is the treatment safe?
Yes. Lasers have been used in medicine for over 30 years and there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that the treatment can lead to skin disorders or any increased risk of skin cancer. Extensive clinical trials for laser and IPL depilation have resulted in a very safe technique with a minimal risk of side effects.
Can anyone offer this kind of treatment?
At the Beauty Rooms all staff are required to undertake the nationally recognised BTEC Award for the delivery of Laser and Light technologies and techniques. Staff at The Beauty Rooms are trained to a very high standard and regularly update their clinical knowledge and skills.
Should anyone avoid this treatment?
The treatment should be avoided by anyone who is:

  • Hypersensitive to light
  • Suffering from live cold sores in the treatment area
  • Suffering from vitiligo. (skin pigment loss)
  • Pregnant

A full medical history will be taken prior to any treatment being offered to exclude any problems!

Specific IPL Treatments

The discovery of Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments is one of the most significant advances for many years in acne treatment of live acne (acne vulgaris). Acne patients undergoing IPL treatment for pitted scarring, soon discovered that IPL was also having a beneficial effect on fresh breakouts. In addition to boosting collagen production, it is believed that the IPL treatment keeps fresh breakouts at bay by killing the bacteria that cause infection and the formation of spots. Laser Skin Solutions always provides the most up to date information available on the exciting new research into acne treatment with IPL.
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What is acne?

Acne is a chronic skin disorder caused by the inflammation of the hair follicles and the sebaceous glands of the skin. It is a widespread and embarrassing condition that affects both teenagers and adults. It can produce life-long scars, both physically and emotionally. It typically begins during adolescence, when hormonal changes cause the enlargement and obstruction of sebaceous glands in the skin. Hormones, genes and environmental factors are also considered to play a part in acne.

What causes acne?

Acne spots are caused by the obstructions of hair follicles by sebum (the oily substance secreted by the sebaceous glands.) When a plug of sebum becomes trapped in a follicle, bacteria multiply and the follicle becomes inflamed. The cause of the change in sebum secretion at puberty is uncertain but it seems to be linked with increased levels in androgen hormones (male sex hormones). There may also be a genetic factor, since acne can run in families. Some drugs may bring on or aggravate existing acne (eg. Corticosteroids which increase oil production in the skin).

How does laser actually work on acne?

The discovery of Intense Pulsed Light treatments is one of the most significant advances for many years in the treatment of live acne (acne vulgaris). Acne patients undergoing IPL treatment for pitted scarring, soon discovered that IPL was also having a beneficial effect on fresh breakouts. In addition to boosting collagen production, it is believed that the IPL treatment keeps fresh breakouts at bay by killing the bacteria that cause infection and the formation of spots. The Beauty Rooms always provides the most up to date information available on the exciting new research into acne treatment with IPL.

I read somewhere that it’s a myth that chocolate gives you acne – is this true?

There are many myths about what causes acne, particularly relating to diet. There is no evidence that diet plays any part in causing acne, so there is little point in avoiding chocolate. However an increase of sugar in the diet can interfere with insulin production. This in turn could affect other hormones causing a possible imbalance, leading to breakouts on the skin. In general however, diet is not normally linked to acne.

What is the cause of adult acne?

Studies have shown that the number of adults suffering from acne has increased in the last decade, more so in the case of women. This is believed to be mainly due to a combination of stress and hormonal changes. With more responsibilities at home and in the work place, stress levels are high, causing the skin to become more oily leading to acne attacks. Long term use of cosmetics that contain oils derived from fatty acids as their base can cause acne breakouts. Known as acne cosmetica, this condition is seen in some actresses who start off with clear skin, but then develop acne halfway through filming a television program.

At what age do people stop getting acne?

There is a misconception that only teenagers have acne breakouts and that once they pass this stage, acne will disappear. While this may be true in some cases, it is not always so. Acne in fact becomes a chronic problem in many people and refuses to leave even after attaining adulthood. On the other hand, some people who have had no acne during their teenage years, start developing it well after the age of 20. This condition is also very common and known as adult onset acne.

I have spots but I don’t think I have acne – would I benefit from Laser treatment?

Anything from the smallest blackhead to the largest cyst, is in fact acne. There is a misconception that you only have acne from grade 3 onwards and often people only seek treatment from their doctor for moderate to severe acne, when in fact their acne could benefit significantly by early intervention. Photorejuvenation (light based therapy) of the skin can be extremely beneficial for anyone suffering from spots and breakouts, when combined with a good skincare regime.

I’ve heard of the Leeds grading system for acne – what is this?

Grading acne is a means of assessing the severity of this highly variable condition. The Leeds grading system is just one of several systems used to diagnose and treat acne. However, there is no standard acne grading system. In medical terms, acne is graded as follows:

  • Grade 1 (Mild Acne): characterised by the smallest form of blackheads which can felt rather than seen. These can often be felt or seen on the chin area.
  • Grade 2: (Acne Cosmetica): characterised by small blackheads or spots which can be caused by every day cosmetics used on the skin.
  • Grade 3: (Acne Vulgaris): is what most people visually recognise as acne, although all grades of this condition are in fact ‘acne’. Characterised by blackheads, papules and pustules.
  • Grade 4: (Cystic Acne): the most severe form of acne which is characterised by blackheads, papules, pustules and cysts.
Excess hair can be unsightly, difficult or inconvenient to remove, and grows back quickly. Shaving, waxing and depilatory creams are all temporary methods that must be repeated on a regular basis. Laser and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) hair removal is the only clinically proven treatment available for laser hair removal. 

At The Beauty Rooms we use Intense Pulsed Light system for permanent hair removal, enabling us to treat up to skin type IV. Your skin is safe in our hands.

How does laser hair removal work?

A short burst of light is fired at the skin’s surface. Light is absorbed by the pigment in the hair shaft, where it heats and destroys the hair. If the hair is in the growth stage (anagen), the heat is transmitted down the hair shaft to the base of the follicle and to the germ cells lining the follicle shaft, causing their destruction.
Hair caught in the growth stage will not grow again. Other follicles, which are not actively growing may produce new hair. These follicles will need to be targeted in the growth stage to effect follicle damage.

How many Laser hair removal treatments will I need?

Everyone is different and it is just not possible to be accurate. Somewhere between 6 and 8 laser hair removal treatments are usually required. The exact number will vary depending on where the hair is, what has been done to the hair in the past and, of course, your individual response. Hormonal conditions, such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), will also have a significant bearing on how the treatment progresses.

Can all hair colours be treated?

Laser/IPL depilation works best on dark hair because dark hair contains more pigment to absorb light. Fair hair can respond well but white hair, very blond hair and some types of red hair will not respond to a laser or an IPL system. We always carry out a patch test beforehand.

Is laser/IPL hair removal permanent?

Yes. Actively growing hair follicles will be destroyed. However as with all depilation methods, only actively growing follicles are affected, so dormant or ‘resting’ hair follicles may start to produce hair at a later time. This ‘new growth’ (not re-growth) would need to be treated in the same manner.

How does laser hair removal compare with other hair removal methods?

Shaving, waxing and depilatory creams are all temporary methods that must be repeated on a regular basis.
Electrolysis hair removal is a valuable method for treating white, grey and red hairs but it is very slow and suffers from the same drawbacks as laser/IPL methods – only those hairs that are actively growing will be destroyed – the others will grow back.
Laser and Intense Pulsed Light hair removal is the only significant improvement in hair removal in the last 20 years. Many Laser and IPL techniques, now carry the coveted American FDA approval for effective permanent hair removal.

How do I prepare myself for treatment?

The laser targets the pigment in the hair and skin and thus it is important that you do not have a suntan – whether natural or artificial.
If you have a tan you should wait at least 4 weeks after your last UV exposure until there is no activity in the pigment producing cells.
If you are plucking, waxing or threading, you should stop 4 weeks prior to treatment and change to shaving or cutting the hair.
The area needs to be shaved two days before treatment.
You should avoid perfumes, deodorants or any potential irritants in the treatment area before and after treatment.
You should avoid alcohol, aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as Nurofen for 48 hours before treatment – this will reduce the risk of a skin reaction.

As we get older the effects of sun, smoking, diet and pollution all take their toll on our skin and less collagen is produced. Collagen, is the tough fibrous protein present in our skin, which gives it its texture and elasticity.

Skin rejuvenation uses Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) which stimulates collagen and elastin production deep within the dermis, increasing skin elasticity and strength, making the skin look softer and smoother.

For maximum Skin Rejuvenation results we recommend combining IPL treatment with Glycolic Peels. This will dislodge the debris of dead skin cells on the surface of your skin allowing the laser/IPL light to penetrate further.
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What are the signs of ageing?

Most people recognize wrinkles as a sign of skin aging, but there are other issues as well to consider. Thread veins and pigmentation problems, skin laxity and general lack lustre appearance also contribute to a generally “aged” look.
In order to improve the overall look of the skin, it is necessary to have an effect on all of these areas.

How does laser/IPL Skin Rejuvenation work?

The Lynton Luminette Intense Pulsed Light system is used to progressively improve the skin tone and texture in the following ways:

  • Stimulates collagen and elastin production, deep within the dermis, increasing skin elasticity and strength.
  • Reduces pigmentation problems, giving skin a more even colour.
  • Reduces fine thread veins, thereby reducing general skin redness (known as Rosacea).

What are the clinical results?

Do not expect a miracle, this is not an alternative to a face lift! However, it is possible to produce softer, smoother skin, more uniform in colour and with less visible pores. Fine lines and wrinkles can be softened and some may disappear.

How many treatments are required?

Four to six treatment sessions take place, two to three weeks apart, and the results are evident at the end of the course of treatments, and will continue to improve for some weeks following. Further maintenance sessions may be required after a twelve month period, depending on the amount of sun damage in the intervening period.

Who is suitable for IPL Skin Rejuvenation?

Generally speaking, this treatment works best for clients who still have reasonable skin elasticity. This is not necessarily dictated by age, however, as some people in their fifties will have better skin quality than others in their forties. This treatment is not suitable for dark skin types. You will be advised of your suitability for this treatment at consultation.

Should anyone avoid this treatment?

The treatment should be avoided by anyone who is:

  • Hypersensitive to light.
  • Suffering from live cold sores in the treatment area.
  • Suffering from vitiligo (skin pigment loss).
  • Pregnant.

People with very dark skin are at greater risk of pigment change and IPL treatment may not be suitable. A full medical history will be taken prior to any treatment being offered to exclude any problems.

How do I prepare myself for treatment?

If you have a tan you should wait at least 4 weeks after your last UV exposure until there is no activity in the pigment producing cells. You should avoid perfumes, deodorants or any potential irritants in the treatment area before and after treatment. You should avoid alcohol, aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as Nurofen for 48 hours before treatment – this will reduce the risk of a skin reaction.

Thread Vein

Thread veins are formed by an increase in the size of small blood vessels beneath the surface of the skin. Sometimes referred to as telangiectasia or spider naevi, these tiny red, blue or purple veins can appear anywhere on the body but are most commonly found on the face and legs.
Thread vein removal treatment is carried out using energy heat pulses which are applied in short bursts which close down the thread veins without perforating them or damaging the surrounding tissue. Following the thread vein removal treatment the vessels quickly clear and are re-absorbed by the body, leaving little or no trace of the original lesion.
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Why do thread veins develop?

Thread veins are caused by a variety of factors including exposure to ultra violet light, wind and extremes of temperature. Steroid creams and the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can also induce thread veins.
Some individuals are genetically more prone to develop thread veins than others and some people are more at risk because of old injuries. If your parents had thread veins, then there is a good chance that you will develop them.
It is possible that hormone treatments, such as the contraceptive pill and HRT can increase the likelihood of forming thread veins.

How does laser thread vein removal work?

All lasers/IPLs (Intense Pulsed Light) work by producing light of a very specific wavelength. If the wavelength of the laser is matched to a target colour (such as the red of blood in the vessel wall), the energy of the laser is absorbed specifically by the target but not by the surrounding tissues.
The IPL produces a slightly wider range of wavelengths of light, but works in exactly the same way.
The IPL delivers a series of energy pulses generating heat for very short periods of time; this energy closes down the thread veins, without perforating them.
The damaged veins are gradually dissolved away and disappear over several weeks after treatment.

How many laser treatments are needed for thread vein removal?

The number of treatments needed will depend on the site and the extent of the affected area and will be estimated at your consultation. It is usually necessary to do 2 treatments or possibly more. Treatments are usually planned at four week intervals. We do not carry out treatment on patients who are tanned or have recently been exposed to UV.

Pigmentation Treatment

The colour of our skin, hair and iris of the eyes is due to melanin – a brown or black pigment produced by special cells called melanocytes. Melanin production is hereditary but increases with exposure to sunlight. Skin that has been exposed to UV light can produce irregular or abnormal pigment production in the form sun, age, or liver spots (solar lentigos) and freckles (ephelides). Skin looks patchy and uneven in tone and texture.
Pigmentation treatment uses Intense Pulsed Light which can effectively treat certain pigment problems by breaking down the pigmentation into smaller particles, which are then eliminated by the body’s own immune system.
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How does laser/IPL treatment of pigmentation problems work?

Areas of skin previously damaged by light develop abnormal pigment production. The aim of treatment with an IPL is to break down the pigment into smaller particles which are then eliminated by the body’s own immune system.

What Pigment Problems can be Treated?

The most important thing is that any intervention does not make matters worse: some pigment problems can be associated with skin malignancy and it is most important that any potential problems are identified and dealt with properly.
The following conditions can be treated:

  • Many people suffer from uneven skin-tone, or skin dyschromia.
  • Sun spots, age spots or liver spots – all known medically as ‘solar lentigos’, or ‘solar lentigines’.

Laser or IPL is not suitable for:

An increase in skin pigmentation stimulated by hormones associated with pregnancy and use of the contraceptive pill eg. ‘Melasma’ or ‘Chloasma’. This is best treated with a skin lightening product like Obagi.
We will always insist on our right to refer back to your GP in the event of any uncertainty.
We do not treat Melanocitic Naevi (pigmented moles) with an IPL: although the pigment may respond to treatment, it often returns and there is uncertainty about the effect of laser energy on these lesions.
How many treatments are required?
Each treatment will normally only break up a proportion of the pigment and every case is individually assessed. However some pigmented lesions will disappear after one treatment. A period of 4-6 weeks is required between treatments.

How does laser/IPL treatment of pigmentation problems work?

Areas of skin previously damaged by light develop abnormal pigment production. The aim of treatment with an IPL is to break down the pigment into smaller particles which are then eliminated by the body’s own immune system.

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