As in life, the saying is true for the aesthetic industry- “you get what you pay for.” Intense Pulsed Light systems (otherwise known as IPL systems) have been around as early as 1995 to treat telangiectasia. But that doesn’t necessarily mean an IPL system of the past can do what today’s systems can do. Even a system 10 years ago cannot stand up to the innovations made in the last few years. Technology is ever-changing no matter what industry you’re in and aesthetics is no different.
One of the most popular IPL uses is the treatment of pigmented lesions, aka “sun spots.” Ideally, IPL treatments target the higher melanin content found in sunspots; sufficiently heating the targeted area to induce controlled damage, with little effect on the surrounding tissue. In the past, practitioners would estimate the melanin content in the client’s skin in order to input the appropriate settings. If the practitioner incorrectly assessed the level of pigment in a client’s skin, the chances of greater discomfort and burning were greatly increased.
Now, IPL systems such as the Palomar Icon, come with “melanin readers” which provide a more accurate assessment of each clients’ skin type. With more exact measures, experienced practitioners can input IPL settings based on objective analysis. The result? Not only are treatments using this technology safer, but more effective.
Advances don’t stop at skin identification either. Client comfort is a top priority for all IPL manufacturers and new technologies geared toward minimizing discomfort, prove it. Because the distribution of heat is how pigmented lesions are treated using IPL, it is not surprising that overheating and burning were common complaints. The melanin reader, discussed previously, is one advancement that significantly minimizes accidents related to incorrect settings. However, even if settings are correct, clients can experience discomfort. Not surprisingly, technological advancements have addressed this as well. IPL systems such as the Palomar Icon have developed advanced cooling mechanisms which maintain the temperature of the hand piece (which is in contact with the skin) at a constant 41 degrees. Consequently, with this technology, burns or discomfort as a result of the hand piece temperature are a thing of the past.
Energy is the key when it comes to IPL efficacy. Ideally, the IPL system must possess enough energy to deliver heat sufficient to provide controlled damage to the target area. Without enough energy, the system can’t deliver enough heat to break up the pigment into small particles which eventually raise to the surface. The Palomar Icon is the most powerful laser and optimized light aesthetic platform on the market today.
Finally, although laser technology is an indicator of overall efficacy of treatment, equally important is the experience and knowledge of the practitioner. Certified, trained and experienced technicians are essential in providing not only an effective treatment, but a safe one.