IPL Treatment for Thread Veins


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Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment is a non-invasive treatment option for thread veins. IPL is in fact quite broadly used in spas and beauty centres for such procedures as hair removal, and so has quite an established and widespread reputation. In fact more recently IPL devices for home use have been developed. The technology works much like the name suggests, high energy light is emitted in pulses focussed on the thread veins.

How does it work?

IPL is not unlike traditional laser therapies. Focussed light is absorbed by haemoglobin in blood vessels, a protein carried by red blood cells to transport oxygen. The temperature of the target blood vessel increases, and eventually the thread veins collapse and are broken down and reabsorbed by the body.

Unlike laser therapies however, IPL uses a host of different wavelengths applied in short bursts rather than one, high intensity wavelength. This confers of advantages: Short pulses of light minimise unwanted exposure of healthy cells to the treatment, hence reducing the discomfort and redness following a session. Ultimately the procedure strikes a balance between providing the high levels of heat required to effectively close and seal thread veins and minimising exposure of surrounding, healthy cells to potentially harmful light. IPL wands also contain a UV filter which prevents harmful ultraviolet wavelengths of light from being applied to your skin.

How is IPL treatement used to remove thread veins?

IPL is applied through a short wand, not unlike an ultrasound wand in appearance. A gel is applied to the target area which serves to soothe the skin, and a technician applies the pulses in a session that usually lasts for about 30 minutes. IPL will sometimes take a number of sessions, but this will be determined beforehand by the professionals conducting the procedure.

Mild discoloration of the skin is typical following an IPL treatment, however this tends to clear up within a day, far more rapidly than the similar effects of laser treatment. Blistering and permanent discolouration occur very rarely, and only when too many pulses are applied to the skin. Hence the importance of discussing how many pulses are required with a certified and experienced professional.

Is it for me?

A major factor in determining suitability for IPL is skin tone. Lighter skin absorbs light much more readily and with minimal adverse effects than darker skin tones. Some darker skin colours are in fact completely unsuitable for the procedure, and any exposure to IPL is almost guaranteed to cause pigment damage. This is due to the high concentration of melanin within darker skin, a pigment which is damaged by exposure to high intensity light.

This consideration aside, IPL presents an extremely efficient and safe method of thread vein removal. It is a technique that is becoming increasingly popular and could potentially replace laser therapies, although which is better remains a subject of debate. IPL exposes less healthy skin than laser therapy to potentially harmful high energy light, and results in a lower risk of scarring and discolouration, which tends to clear up more quickly than similar consequences of laser therapy.


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