Intense Pulsed Light IPL


The skin is the largest organ in humans (in surface area) and is made up of two layers – the epidermis and a deeper layer, the dermis. The epidermis forms a barrier and protects us from the environment. It regularly sheds dead skin and this is replaced by new cells.

The dermis contains hair follicles, oil glands and blood vessels as well as collagen and elastin. Collagen and elastin give the skin a fullness and youthful appearance.

Aging Skin

Glycolic AcidVisual signs of aging are caused by two events. There is chronological aging and environmental aging. Chronological aging is a normal process – changes tend to be subtle – there is general shrinkage of the skin, dryness, skin may remain smooth, there is loss of elasticity and fine wrinkles may appear.

Photoaging or environmental aging is largely due to chronic sun exposure and other self indulgent activities such as cigarette smoking. The changes associated with photoaging are more striking – skin laxity, blotchiness of the skin, wrinkling – especially coarse wrinkles, the appearance of pigmentation and ‘broken capillaries’ or telangiectasia. Photo-aged skin is also more prone to skin cancers.

Treatment Approaches

Photorejuvenation is a descriptive term coined to reflect the dramatic changes that can be achieved by exposing sun damaged skin to intense pulses of light or appropriately selected beams of laser light.  Changes that are seen are the clearing of facial capillaries, sun spots – also known as age spots – or lentigines, and stimulation of collagen causing a smoother firmer texture to the skin.

There are ablative (removes the outer protective layer of skin) and non-ablative treatments.  Ablative treatments include dermabrasion, chemical peels and CO2 and Erbium laser resurfacing.  All these procedures may have significant periods of “downtime”.  The newer ablative treatments such as the CO2 FX Ultrapulse laser resurfacing and Fraxel laser treatments can have much less “downtime”.

The non-ablative photorejuvenation treatment IPL, or Intense Pulsed Light, treatment is the gold standard for pigmentation and broken capillaries.  For minor wrinkles, non-ablative lasers can be very effective.  At Shire Cosmetic Medicine we offer these treatments using the IPL-M22 Sysytem.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

Intense bursts or pulses of light are delivered through the skin having passed through specially selected filters. There is no ultra violet light in the bursts of light administered and it is therefore safe and non-cancer producing. The light specifically targets pigment and broken capillaries, obliterating them leaving the skin undamaged and therefore minimising ‘downtime’. The light also stimulates collagen production, giving the skin a firmer feel.

Some discomfort is felt during the treatment. The intensity of the discomfort depends largely on the patients level of pain tolerance and the settings selected on the machine. All IPL machines are not alike. Some have fixed settings and therefore are not able to be adjusted to suit individual needs, while the more sophisticated machines allow the operator to vary parameters to suit individual needs or specific skin conditions. At Shire Cosmetic Medicine we have a state of the art IPL machine. The entire face can be treated in less that 10 minutes. Post treatment the face feels hot, as in sunburn, and may appear reddish for some hours.

For optimal results a series of 3 to 5 treatments at three week intervals may be required.

Multiple Technologies In One Modular System-M22

Universal IPL 

 Optimal Pulse Technology (OPT™)

 Single handpiece with changeable filters and lightguides

 For IPL skin treatments using photorejuvenation

Multi-Spot™ Nd:YAG

The only one with Multiple Sequential Pulsing (MSP)

2 sized lightguides, changeable in seconds

For treatment of leg veins and vascular lesions

Q-Switched Nd:YAG

Homogenous beam profile for enhanced treatment safety and efficacy

For skin toning*, dark tattoos removal, and combination treatments

Q-Switched Nd Yag Laser

Our Q-Switched Nd Yag Laser is versatile in that if can be used to treat pigmentation especially on the face, and tattoos. The laser which emits high energy pulses, breaks down the pigment into small fragments which are then removed by the body’s scavenger system.

A number of treatments will be required at 6 week intervals. The number of treatments depends on the site of the pigment, its intensity.

This laser can also be used to treat melasma – a hormone induced pigment. It is more likely to improve epidermal melasma (superficial type) and is unlikely to have any effect on the dermal (deep) type.

Tattoos – Q-Switched laser can remove black or blue tattoo pigment. As with most laser treatments, a number of treatments will be required the number depending on the intensity of the colour, whether it was done by a professional or amateur and the age of the tattoo. Repeat treatments are at 6 week intervals. Following treatment a whitish crust develops on the tattoo which sheds. There may be some redness. The tattoo becomes lighter in colour. It is a relatively pain free treatment – no anaesthetic is required.


Stopping or avoiding the offending agent does not always clear the veins and recurrence following treatment is a possibility. Sclerotherapy is a technique that has been used for years and works well. This requires the injection of a sclerosant chemical directly into the veins, destroying them. Lasers and light therapies are newer treatment modalities that are equally effective and perhaps aesthetically more acceptable as there is less ‘downtime’ Lasers and light treatments work by converting light energy to heat. The target in this case is haemoglobin, the red pigment in blood vessels. The light energy is absorbed by the red pigment and converted to heat. This heat then coagulates or thickens the blood in the vessel and also transfers the heat to cells lining the blood vessel or capillary damaging them. These damaged vessels are then removed by the body’s scavenger system.

At Shire Cosmetic Medicine we have both a state-of-the art Intense Pulsed Light Machine as well as an Nd Yag laser which can be used for clearing facial veins. The light sources in these treatment modalities are bright and therefore eye protection is required. The treatments are fairly quick and there is some pain or discomfort associated with it. Post treatment the area will be red and feel hot as if sunburnt, these changes are temporary and clear within a few hours. Cool packs may be used for comfort. Multiple treatments may be required depending on the type, size, and number of vessels as well as the location of the vessels.

It goes without saying that for susceptible individuals, sun avoidance and the use of sunscreens is a must.


Costs are affordable and depend on the area requiring treatment, which will be discussed at the time of consultation.

Rosacea and Facial Redness

The M22 multifunction IPL has a unique vascular filter which is suitable for the treatment of Rosacea and facial redness. The vascular filter targets the abnormal blood vessels and destroys them, improving facial redness. Most patients require 3 to 5 treatments at 3 week intervals and maintenance treatments may be required from time to time.

Facial Veins

Facial veins are a common problem in this sun-drenched country of ours. The main cause of this problem is the damaging effects of ultraviolet light. Current research suggests that Ultraviolet A and B are the main culprits – there is some thought that Ultraviolet C may also be a causative factor, but further research is required. Ultraviolet B does not penetrate glass while A does. Therefore, using a good sunscreen while driving a vehicle is important. While using a sunscreen is important in the Australian sun, it does not offer complete protection – but it is better than nothing.

Facial veins can appear for other reasons, such as the use of steroid medications, topical or oral, and blood thinning agents like warfarin. Burns and facial scars as well as hereditary factors play a role in the appearance of facial veins.

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