Lasers and Light Devices in the Treatment of Cosmetic Pigmentary Disorders in Asian Skin

Goh Chee Leok


Dermatology Nursing 

In This Article

IPL Treatment, Perioperative Morbidity, and Skin Care

Patients should refrain from tanning for at least 4 weeks before the procedure because epidermal melanin absorbs IPL energy and tends to cause burn on tanned skin. The darker the skin, the higher the risk of IPL burn. Patients should be prescribed broad-spectrum sunscreen and skin-lightening creams to be used for several weeks before the treatment to reduce the risk of burn and PIH after the procedure.

A clear gel is usually applied to the areas to be treated to ensure the best possible transmission of light from the applicator to the skin. During treatment, the contact crystal is applied gently to the skin. Light is delivered to the skin surface in precise pulses. The entire face is treated during the procedure.

The procedure is associated with minimal pain. Topical anaesthetic may be applied to the skin 1 hour before the procedure to reduce pain. Immediately after the procedure, cooling the skin with air or ice packs may reduce pain.

To avoid PIH after treatment, patients should avoid direct sun exposure and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen for several weeks. A skin-lightening cream may also be prescribed.

The treated lesions, such as freckles and lentigines, will generally become darker and occasionally crusted about 3 days after the treatment. It gives a "dirty look" which will persist for 3–5 days after treatment and slough off thereafter. Regular (daily) gentle cleansing (e.g., with normal saline) and applying moisturizers (e.g., aqueous cream) 2–3 times a day will help hasten clearance of the crust.

Slight redness may occur after the IPL procedure, but usually disappears spontaneously after a few hours. Uncommon side effects include superficial blistering, especially when treating tanned or darker skin tones. This can be prevented by avoiding treating patients with tanned skin.

On average, four to six treatments are recommended, scheduled at monthly intervals. Each session usually lasts about 10–20 minutes, with patients returning to normal activity immediately afterward. Intense-pulsed light treatments provide gradual improvement with minimal to no downtime.