Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) for rosacea telangiectasia
One of the main problems for rosacea patients is the persistent red face that can occur. In many cases the redness is due to inflammation. Creams or tablets that reduce inflammation will often reduce the level of redness. In some cases however the redness is more permanent and other treatment strategies are needed.
The number of blood vessels in the face and the blood flow through the facial skin varies between individuals. How noticeable facial redness is can also be influenced by how pigmented the skin is. Many pale skinned northern Europeans have a naturally red cheeked complexion and this is normal. The facial redness is mediated by the number and size of blood vessels which are reasonably deep in the skin. These vessels supply oxygen and nutrients to the skin. They cannot be targeted by IPL or laser. If your face is more red than you want due to this kind of natural deep redness the best treatment to try is a gel called brimonidine ( MIRVASO©), which a Dermatologist could prescribe.
Facial redness can also be caused by an excess of small vessels close to the skin surface. These are called telangiectasia. Some people are more prone to develop them. They can be triggered due to sun exposure. Chronic rosacea inflammation is a common trigger for facial telangiectasia. Because these vessels are close to the surface they can be easily destroyed using either IPL or a variety of different vascular lasers.
Both IPL and lasers work according to the principle of selective photothermolysis. Selective Photo (light) thermo (heat) lysis (destruction) is the phenomenon whereby different coloured molecules absorb light energy of different wavelengths. Once the energy is absorbed it is converted to heat energy which destroys the target. In the skin an IPL machine can deliver a wavelength of light energy that is mainly absorbed by the colour red. The excess telangiectasia, containing red blood, can therefore be destroyed without damaging the surrounding skin. If a patient has a very red face and telangiectasia the treatment is more difficult as all of the skin will have a tendency to absorb the light energy, not just the telangiectasia. The best results can be achieved with red vessels against a background of white skin. When treating rosacea patients it is therefore best if as much inflammation can be controlled as possible prior to receiving the IPL.
IPL is a very effective treatment for rosacea telangiectasia. The images below show before and after results of facial rosacea telangiectasia treated using a LUMINA IPL .