Rosacea IPL & Laser treatment
Our departmental research on IPL in rosacea has been published in the British Journal of Dermatology.
Rosacea is common and causes facial redness, flushing, thread veins and spots. The spots and inflammation can be controlled with medication. The redness, veins and flushing can be controlled with IPL or laser treatment.
Please read to detailed advice in the paragraphs below if you are considering treatment.
We treat the redness and broken veins of Rosacea with Intense Pulse Light or Pulse Dye Laser. We use either the Lumenis Quantum SR machine or the Cynosure Cynergy laser.
These deliver a pulse of red light to the broken vessels causing them to heal up and fade away. People with Rosacea flush easily and develop redness, pimples, and thread veins on their cheeks nose and forehead. It often starts in the second or third decade of life, and women are more often affected than men.
It is common, affecting perhaps 10% of adults. Because rosacea affects the face it can cause significant psychological problems. The unpredictable flushes can be mistaken for too much drinking.
Many people with Rosacea find the rash on their face causes them embarrassment and anxiety. Some people stay well by avoiding triggers of flushing such as certain foods and beverages, sunlight and certain cosmetics. The active flare ups when spots break out are best treated with antibiotic lotions to rub on or as tablets to swallow.
The better active flare ups are controlled the fewer thread veins are left behind. Lasers and IPL machines are used to help the remaining redness and broken veins.
IPL stands for intense pulsed light.
The machine contains a flash lamp, this is an extremely bright light source. The shorter dangerous wavelengths are filtered out. A computer is used to set the length of the flash and calibrate the machine. IPLs and lasers are used to treat a wide variety of conditions apart from Rosacea such as red birthmarks, pigmented skin lesions, thread veins and unwanted hair. Here are several different manufacturers of IPL machines, all with different names. We use a Quantum machine manufactured by Lumenis.
This is an improvement on their earlier Photoderm machine. The pulse dye lasers make a wavelength of light specifically tuned to the red colour of rosacea.
You will be asked to keep your face as pale as possible by avoiding sun exposure before and during your course of treatment. At your first visit you can discuss the pros and cons of treatment and a patch test can be performed to check the reaction of your skin.
A week later the first full, treatment is carried out. The whole of the affected are will be treated, except in men where the beard area is avoided. There is a feeling of heat during the treatment and your face will be redder for a short while afterwards. Cooling packs can be applied afterwards.
You will need to wear goggles to protect your eyes from the intense light. A course of 4 ï¿½ 6 treatments at 3-4 week intervals produces the best benefit.
Improvement may continue for many weeks after the course has finished. Rosacea is a relapsing condition and this treatment improves the appearance but does not cure the Rosacea. If you have active inflammatory Rosacea then this will need to be controlled with medication before you can have IPL or laser treatment.
It is believed that the light from IPL and pulse dye lasers has two actions that help in Rosacea.
Firstly red thread veins absorb the light energy, this makes them hot. This damage encourages the body to reabsorb them, improving the appearance.
Secondly the light energy warms the collagen fibres in the skin this stimulates new collagen and collagen remodelling, this improves the support of the small blood vessels which helps to delay the development of more thread veins.
The bright light is not though to be cancer forming as it utilises visible and infra red light that is outside the ultraviolet range that causes sunburn, skin cancer, and aging of the skin.
The flashes of bright light that are produced may damage the eyes so goggles have to be worn during the treatment. The treatment is generally well tolerated but some patients find it unpleasant. Exposure is limited to an extremely short flash that feels like the snap of a rubber band. A mild burning sensation can be felt for a while afterwards.
Occasionally there is some swelling that will subside in a day or two. The beard area is avoided in men as the treatment may cause some hair loss. Bruising is unlikely but if it occurs will settle in a few days. There is a chance that pigment changes may occur in the skin, either dark marks, hyperpigmentation, or pale marks, hypopigmentation.
These are temporary and fade in 1 ï¿½ 6 months. To help reduce the risk of this it is very important that sun exposure is avoided for 4 weeks before your treatment and throughout the course of treatment. Crusting and blistering may occur after the treatment, this is best left to heal undisturbed so as to reduce the risk of scarring.
It is important that you follow any aftercare instructions carefully.
Patients with light sensitivity should not have these light treatments. Its effects during pregnancy are unknown and it is safer to avoid the treatment when pregnant.
You should not have IPL/laser treatment if you have any suntan, however mild. You should not have IPL/laser treatment whilst taking Roaccutane (Isotretinoin) or for 12 months afterwards.
The inflammatory part of rosacea causes spots, these should be treated with antibiotics, either by rubbing them on as a lotion or taking them by mouth as tablets.
If the inflammatory type of rosacea is left untreated it will cause more thread veins.
Other lasers can be used for treating the thread veins and these are an alternative to IPL. The KTP laser can be used but there is a slightly increased risk of scarring.
Rosacea treatment costs
The initial consultation costs £200, If you decide to have treatment this includes the cost of a test patch.
Several visits will probably be required, at 2 month intervals. Costs depend on the area to be treated:
IPL Treatments from £150 - £350
Rosacea responds well to IPL and laser treatment...
...6 months after 4 IPL treatments