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Banish Brown Spots and Other Summer Skin Damage with an Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Treatment

Banish Brown Spots and Other Summer Skin Damage with an Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Treatment

Summer is a great time to head outdoors for fun in the sun, but the sun can wreak havoc on your skin. While once it was beautifully blemish-free, the ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause dark spots, wrinkles, and other skin damage that can dull your enthusiasm for that beautiful tan. Fortunately, you can reverse the sun’s harmful effects with a simple in-office treatment.

At Oral & Facial Surgery of Mississippi, oral and maxillofacial surgeon Dr. Michael Nichols and our team of aestheticians provide intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments for their patients with sun-caused skin damage. The team uses Lumenis M22™ IPL technology to de-blemish and de-age your skin without the need for surgery, needles, or downtime. Here’s how it works.

Skin blemishes and other damage

Melanin is a pigment that gives your skin its overall color. People with light skin have less or more diffuse melanin than those with dark skin. However, exposure to UV rays triggers additional melanin production and spreads out the pigment to protect the skin’s deeper layers. We call this a “tan,” and it fades when exposure decreases.

Melanin, though, can also form in clumps, which show up on your skin as brown spots known as freckles, sun spots, age spots, or solar lentigines. These spots don’t fade over time and may, in some cases, become larger and darker. And the more you expose your skin to the sun over time, the more numerous the spots become, which is why you tend to have more “age spots'' as you get older.

Collagen is a structural protein that gives your skin strength and resilience when you’re young, but production naturally decreases after about age 20, leading to wrinkles, loss of volume, and lax skin.

In addition, exposure to UV rays can cause collagen to break down at a greater-than-normal rate than simple aging. The rays penetrate the middle skin layer (dermis), causing the abnormal buildup of elastin, another protein. When elastin accumulates, the body produces enzymes that inadvertently break down collagen, creating so-called "solar scars." Continued exposure speeds up the process, leading to further wrinkling.

Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy

IPL is similar to laser treatment, but while a laser focuses only a single wavelength of light on your skin, IPL uses several different wavelengths to target various problems simultaneously.

IPL penetrates down to the dermis, where the pigment clumps are located, without damaging the outer epidermis. That means you experience less overall damage to your skin.

The melanin absorbs the light energy, which is converted into heat; this breaks up the pigment clumps and disperses the cells, getting rid of the blemishes.

The energy from the IPL also triggers a burst of new collagen production, which fills in the fine lines and wrinkles and smooths out your skin.

IPL therapy works on your face, neck, chest, back, arms, shoulders, and legs, wherever you’ve sustained summer skin damage.

The IPL procedure

When you come into Oral & Facial Surgery of Mississippi for an IPL treatment, the aesthetician first cleans the treatment area, then rubs a cool gel onto your skin. She also gives you dark glasses to protect your eyes from the light. Finally, she uses the handheld device to direct the IPL energy onto your skin.

Some people experience a slight stinging sensation during the session, but most say it’s no worse than a rubber band snap. Treatment takes about 20-30 minutes, depending on how large the treatment area is. Mild redness and swelling are expected right after the procedure, but these fade within a day or two.

How many treatments you’ll need depends largely on your aesthetic goals. Many people get 3-6 treatments, spaced about a month apart, to see their age spots and wrinkles disappear entirely.

How to maintain your results

If you’ve gone to the trouble to have your skin damage repaired, you don’t want age spots or wrinkles reappearing at the next possible opportunity. That’s why we recommend the following:

If you have any questions or concerns, we’re happy to address them to your satisfaction.

Got brown spots and other summer skin damage? An IPL session might be just the thing for you. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, give our office a call at 601-282-9290.

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