Written by: Kelli Fuqua Hart, Executive Editor
For years, I slathered on the tanning accelerators and oils, and spent countless hours basking and baking in the Florida sun. When the weather put a damper on my outdoor exposure, I’d make my way to the sun bed and let the ultraviolet radiation penetrate my skin for upwards of 20-minutes – wanting to maintain my sexy, brown glow. Ah, paradise in a phosphor-filled bulb!
In my early-thirties, I discovered something that would change my life forever. Something smaller than a pencil eraser would become a larger than life monster, threatening my life and the way I lived it. I had Melanoma cancer.
Now, this is not a story about cancer, but the underlying obstacles I’d face after being treated and taking my skin’s health back into my own sun screened, shaded hands. Little did I know the amount of residual damage I had done to my skin, simply trying to maintain what I thought was a sexy tan.
Around the age of 35, I looked in the mirror – really looked – and saw the splotchy, discolored casualties scattered across my face. My tan was long gone, but the evidence of neglect stained my now porcelain skin.
Try as I may, no amount of concealer or foundation was going to mask the dark brown splotches that framed my jawline. No amount of serums or exfoliators would erase the discolored stains that invaded my face. And believe me, I tried almost everything from expensive mail-order products to chemical peels. Nothing was helping to diminish the embarrassment I wore on my face each and every day.
During an unrelated visit to MidState Skin Institute, Licensed Esthetician Anna Wilemon briefed me on some new procedures she was offering – one of those procedures being a process called Intense Pulsed Light or IPL.
During our discussion, I pointed out to her the damage I was battling each day and Anna assured me the IPL service would drastically improve my skin by “using the combined bi-polar radio frequencies and light energies of the Elos laser treatment technology” which safely and precisely targets pigmented lesions such as freckles, age spots and, in my case, sun spots. In other words, a highly effective laser will zap my skin damage and before long it will be markedly improved, if not gone completely.
I trust Anna and the entire team at MidState Skin and decided I would give IPL a try. After all, I had spent hundreds of dollars over the course of many years trying any and everything to fix what I had done to myself. What was trying one more thing going to hurt?
The way IPL works is this: Like most lasers, IPL systems emit light energy to targeted areas on the skin where discoloration is present. This light energy is absorbed into particular target cells on the lower layers of the skin where it is then converted to heat energy. The top layers of the skin are unaffected. These light pulses target melanin deep within the epidermis which heats up and then destroys this melanin, removing discoloration. This process causes what I refer to as “healthy damage,” meaning a systematic way of causing damage which, in return, increases collagen and begins a rejuvenation process – repairing the skin.
The process was easy and the results exceeded my expectations, but it is still a process – it is not immediate. Most patients require five sessions. Those with fair skin yield the best results. The first two or three days following the procedure are the worst of it. How so?
The pigment that lurks beneath the surface becomes darker and moves closer to the outer surface of the skin becoming more visible. The same splotches you want to go away actually become more prevalent soon after each procedure, growing darker and getting crusty until they finally shed off – but they do shed off – in time.
After my first procedure I did panic a bit. New spots showed up in places where there were none previously. My jawline was covered in varying shades of brown, made up of rough, crusty patches that I was praying would diminish. By day 4, I saw obvious improvements. Each time I would apply moisturizer or wash my face, I’d literally watch dark spots be wiped away. After two weeks, I was taking photos and sending them to Anna, completely shocked by my skin’s tone, complexion and overall appearance. IPL works!
But does it hurt? Depending on your tolerance, IPL’s delivery of pain may vary. Applying a numbing cream one hour prior to any procedure drastically helps keep pain to a minimum. Likewise, a cooling vent is provided during the procedure which spot treats any areas that may be aggravated by heat. It is a laser and as imagined, lasers can pack some heat. However, the process only lasts for roughly ten minutes and then you are free to reapply makeup and return to regular activities. Compared to a tattoo or piercing, the pain of IPL is nowhere near as bad.
IPL was my answer to pigmented lesions, but it is also used to treat vascular lesions such as spider angiomas, broken facial veins, rosy cheeks, port wine stains and rosacea; unwanted hair; fine lines and wrinkles due to aging, muscle movement, acne, injury, surgery and gravity. IPL is a proven way to finally say goodbye to the residual effects of sunbathing or in my case, sun worshipping.
I tried IPL. I have reaped the benefits and can vouch for its benefits. It works and is worth every dime. For more information or to book an appointment with Anna, please visit www.midstateskin.com or call 352.512.0092.