Rosacea, also called Acne Rosacea is a very common skin condition characterized by a red face. Rosacea causes flushing of the face which eventually leaves permanently enlarged visible red blood vessels and capillaries, and a red faced appearance especially on the cheeks, nose and mid face. In time raised red bumps or acne lesions also occur and Rosacea can also affect the eyes, a condition called Ocular Rosacea. In some people, after many years, Rosacea can result in Rhinophyma, a profuse proliferation of excess skin on the nose, a condition immortalized by Jimmy Durante and Wally Fields, both movie actors who were afflicted with Rhinophyma.
Recently, the use of a new light therapy called IPL or Intense Pulsed Light has revolutionized the treatment of Rosacea. The IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) treatments are very effective at closing down the enlarged blood vessels which cause the red face appearance that is seen in patients with Rosacea. IPL is gentler than laser treatments with less discomfort and no visible signs of treatment such as bruising which is so common after some laser treatments.
What Is Rosacea?
Rosacea is a common skin illness affecting over 40 million Americans. The cause is unknown, but heredity and fair or light skin color are important pre-disposing factors. The signs of this condition are:
o Facial Flushing-Flushing of the face is usually the first sign. Flushing is particularly likely to happen after eating spicy food, drinking alcohol and coffee, and during emotional stress.
o Persistent Redness-The red faced appearance does not go away. It can look like sunburn that persists.
o Acne Bumps and Pimples- In time red bumps, pustules and acne lesions appear. These bumps can be painful and do not respond to typical acne treatment.
o Visible Blood Vessels on the Face-In time visible small red blood vessels are seen on the facial skin. They are most common on the nose, cheeks, and chin but are also seen on the forehead.
There are common triggers which can precipitate an outbreak and which can be avoided to help control outbreaks. Common triggers are:
-Irritating Skin Care Products
How Does IPL or Intense Pulsed Light Get Rid of the Red Face
IPL or intense Pulsed Light uses a bright flash of visible light to close down the blood vessels and capillaries which cause flushing and the red faced appearance. IPl uses a filter which only releases a specific color of light, one that is uniquely absorbed or picked up by the blood vessels of the skin, to hit the skin. Thus the IPL light beams only affect the dilated blood vessels on the skin and do not injure the normal skin. When the IPL light energy is absorbed by the dilated blood vessels, the dilated blood vessels are injured and close down. This removes the blood vessels, capillaries and the red appearance of the face. I use the Starlux IPL LuxGreen which utilizes the 650nm light range which is ideal for removing dilated blood vessels and reducing skin flushing. The results are truly remarkable.
The IPL is gentler than other commonly used lasers. Lasers often cause bruising and sometimes skin burns that can leave white marks on the face. These problems have limited the usefulness of the laser on the face and resulted in the IPL becoming the treatment of choice for this condition.
What Is the IPL Treatment Like?
IPL treatments are very quick, simple and relatively painless. Protective shields, like sunglasses, will be placed to protect your eyes. A soothing Gel will be placed on your skin for your comfort and to improve the effectiveness of the IPL treatment. We do not use a topical anesthetic, because it is not needed and can interfere with the effectiveness of the treatment.
The IPL treatment head will be placed against your skin and a bright flash of light is triggered to treat the red areas. The whole face will be treated with a series of flashes. You will feel a small snap as the flash hits your skin, but it is very tolerable.
After the treatment, cold packs will be placed on the skin for your comfort. Your skin may look pink for an hour or so, but no bruising or very visible skin injury is seen, as often happens with laser treatments.
You will be able to return to work and your skin usually looks quite normal after a few hours.
When Will I See Results?
We look for and see a change or darkening of the flushed areas immediately after treatment. Some very tiny areas are closed during the first treatment.
However, larger areas and skin flushing gradually decrease over about 5 weeks after the IPL treatment. This gradual improvement is a gentler method than laser treatment, and takes time. This gentler approach avoids complications and is why the IPL method has become the preferred method.
For moderate to severe cases 3 treatments scheduled 5 weeks apart are required. This is because it is impossible to equally cover and close all of the affected areas during each treatment. As treatments progress there are fewer areas to treat and more complete removal is possible.
What Skin Care Products are Best for Rosacea Patients?
Avoidance of sun injury and other forms of skin inflammation is very important. A good non-comedogenic sun block is important. We avoid irritating creams such as Retin A, Tazorac and strong acid peels. Vitamin C Serum is soothing and it has anti-inflammatory properties that are very useful.
MetroGel is an essential component of any skin care program if you have flushing and dilated capillaries on your face. Obagi Skin Care’s new Rosaclear System combines several effective ingredients and is a very effective new skin care system for patients.
Where Can I Find IPL Treatments?
Board Certified Dermatologists and Plastic Surgeons are the laser and IPL experts. You will need to search the internet and do your homework to find a board certified physician who offers laser and IPL services and has an interest in treating facial redness and acne.
You need a complete systemic approach which includes the IPL treatments, appropriate skin care, and medical management.
You are much more likely to find complete appropriate treatment in a doctor’s office. I advise against seeking these light treatments in Spas and medical Spas that do not have a doctor present. Not all IPL machines are the same, and those used in a board certified doctors office are likely to be more effective and more expertly used.
Do your homework and find a reliable specialist.