Well-recognized advantages of IPL devices
Another well-recognized advantage of IPL devices is the relatively large footprint of their spot size and their resulting treatment speed, allowing one to limit the total number of pulses per treatment to a minimum and affording a swift treatment of large anatomical areas. Nonetheless, the larger handpieces and spot sizes can pose a potential maneuverability disadvantage when treating uneven skin surfaces.
The first report of the use of an IPL device in dermatology dates back to 1996, when it was successfully utilized to treat a cohort of 80 patients with treatment-resistant facial port wine stains in Germany.The device, which employed a light source emitting noncoherent light with a wavelength spectrum of 515 to 1200nm, had been originally developed for the treatment of a wide range of benign vascular lesions, including telangiectasias and reticular varicose leg veins.
The first IPL device obtained United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance in 1995 for treatment of lower extremity telangiectasias. Since then, its favorable cost and versatility in contrast to many single-spectrum lasers, has leads to its rapid proliferation and use in a number of different clinical settings. Despite early claims of having too many side effects and too little efficacy, innovations in technology have resulted in the development of more powerful, predictable, and reliable devices enhancing their usefulness in skin rejuvenation.
There are multiple well-established and effective laser treatments for targeting blood vessels in the skin, with the pulsed dye laser being the workhorse in many practices nationwide. However, one limitation of the latter is the need to achieve purpura in several clinical scenarios to achieve acceptable results. In contrast, one of the main advantages of IPL technology is the absence of postoperative purpura, which minimizes post-procedure downtime substantially. Rather than inducing immediate purpura, the goal of treating vascular lesions with IPL is to raise the blood vessel temperature high enough to cause its coagulation, leading to its destruction and replacement by fibrous granulation tissue. Because of its polychromaticity, IPL can target oxyhemoglobin (predominantly found in clinically red lesions), deoxygenated hemoglobin (predominantly in blue lesions), and methemoglobin, with absorption peak wavelengths of 418, 542, and 577.
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