Rosacea Treatment Through Intense Pulse Light

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What is intense pulsed light?

This is a laser technique that is used to treat rosacea and hair loss. It operates on the principle of selective photo thermolysis, which involves the selective damage of certain tissues and veins by the characteristics of light energy such as wavelength and pulse duration. This process allows the regeneration of these unwanted tissues that would otherwise result in unwanted effects such as redness.

In the case of rosacea, certain veins known as thread veins result in redness and flushing of certain areas in one’s body such as the face and neck. Treatment through intense pulsed light causes these thread veins to absorb light energy hence resulting in them becoming hot. As a result, these veins become damaged thereby leading to their re absorption and the formation of new small blood vessels. This in turn improves the facial appearance as it reduces redness and flushing. A similar effect occurs with the collagen fibres in the skin. Heat energy causes the fibres to become warmer thereby stimulating the development of new collagen fibres which provide support to the newly regenerated small blood vessels hence reducing redness of the face by delaying the formation of new thread veins.

What does the process of intense pulsed light actually entail?

The following is a brief overview on what to expect when attending a clinic for intense pulsed light treatment for rosacea.

In the build up to the treatment, and probably throughout its course, you will be required to maintain a minimum level of exposure to sunlight so as to keep your face as pale as possible. Studies show that this would result in the process being more effective during the treatment stage. During your initial visit, you will have the opportunity to discuss any concerns and queries that you may have about the actual procedure such as any side effects that you may experience as the treatment stage progresses. Also during this first visit, your consultant may carry out what is known as a patch test. As the name suggests, this is a mini version of the procedure carried out on a small area of your face so as to investigate how your skin would react to the main procedure. If all goes well during this stage, the first of a series of full treatments will be carried out roughly one week after your initial patch treatment. This will target the whole of the affected area of the skin either on your face or neck. There is generally no discomfort experienced with the procedure although the targeted area will feel redder than usual for a short period of time after the treatment. You will however be given cooling packs to apply which will aid the recovery and the reduction in redness following the treatment. Another important point to note is the use of protective goggles which must be worn during the actual procedure so as to protect your eyes from the intense light that is used. The process normally comprises of about four to six such treatment sessions spread out over a period of three to four weeks. You should expect to notice a slight improvement in your appearance throughout the procedure, with the reduction in redness becoming increasingly noticeable in the weeks following the completion of the procedure.

At this stage, it is vital to stress that rosacea is a condition that has no real cure and although the process causes an improvement in the symptoms of rosacea, it does not cure it completely. Furthermore, certain types of rosacea would need to be treated with medication before the use of intense pulsed light treatment.

There is generally not too much information available regarding the cost of such a treatment. It is however said to start from approximately two hundred pounds at certain clinics with the cost being dependant on factors such as the number of treatments required.

What are the side effects of intense pulsed light treatment?

This treatment process is generally said to be very safe and rarely produces any side effects. However, there are certain rare cases where the intense pulsed light may result in the manifestation of certain unwanted symptoms. A common sensation that is experienced by all patients who undergo the procedure is a mild burning on the treated area for a short while after the treatment. Other more rare side effects include swelling which usually tends to subside within a day or two. Bruising of the skin may also occur but again, tends to subside within a few days time.

The more longer lasting side effects include the appearance of dark patches of marks on the skin, known commonly as hyper pigmentation or sometimes the appearance of paler marks, otherwise known as hypo pigmentation. These tend to fade away by about six months time. The risk factors for hypo and hper pigmentation include prolonged exposure to the sun, therefore it is essential that the levels of exposure to direct sunlight be kept to a minimum following your procedure.

Some individuals may also experience crusting and blistering of the skin after treatment. As tempting as it is to interfere with these symptoms by applying creams to reduce their appearance, specialists advise that if left untouched, they should heal on their own. As mentioned earlier, your consultant will be able to advise you on the possible side effects as well as your chances of experiencing them during your first visit.

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