As far as skin trends go, non-invasive treatments are gaining popularity by the day. According to dermatologist Dr. Divya Sharma, “Non-invasive skin treatments are procedures which do not break the surface of the skin. Most of the procedures which are termed ‘non-invasive’ do not involve surgery and have a shorter downtime. They are usually performed on an outpatient basis. For instance, there are many non-invasive options to tighten the skin and get rid of the signs of aging like fading wrinkles, fixing prominent jowls and even sculpting a jawline.” One such non-invasive skin trend that has gained popularity with women is the photofacial - a light-based treatment with multiple benefits for the skin. Here’s everything you need to know about the benefits, precautions and post-procedure care associated with photofacials.

According to Dr. Sharma, “Photofacials are skin rejuvenation procedures which use light and its various spectral components to improve skin – both inside and out. They are popular due to their safe and non-invasive nature. They are not only therapeutic but also very relaxing and calming.”


1. Benefits of photofacials

Benefits of photofacials

Photofacial treatments are non-invasive, that means that it does not involve any needles or lasers. They are closer to nature's biology and hence are very safe. They have the following benefits:

i) Stimulates collagen production:

Photofacials help stimulate fibroblasts, which in turn help produce collagen in the skin. This helps decrease wrinkle formation and promotes the strengthening of the skin barrier.

ii) Decreases free radical formation:

Free radicals are responsible for breaking down your skin’s collagen, giving way to early signs of aging like fine lines and saggy skin. Photofacials provide an almost antioxidant-like function, inhibiting the formation of free radicals - thus helping maintain youthful-looking skin.

iii) Increases blood flow to the skin:

Photofacials help increase blood flow to your skin, which in turn leads to improved facial shine and glow.

iv) Gives your skin a healthy look:

Photofacials help reduce redness of the skin (especially in sensitive skin), evens out skin tone (due to decreased melanocyte function, preventing pigmentation), and gives an overall healthy look to your skin.

v) Decreases the chances of breakouts:

The blue light in the LED decreases the bacterial load of the skin causing a reduction in pimples.

vi) Improves telangiectasia:

Telangiectasia or fine blood vessels which are visible on the skin (especially around the nose) are significantly improved with the help of photofacials. This clinical treatment also helps improve the thinning of skin and reduction in age spots.

vii) Helps prevent photodamage:

Photofacials can help prevent photodamage - caused due to prolonged exposure to solar radiation - of the skin.


2. Types of photofacials

Types of photofacials

There are two types of photofacials available for customers:

i) Intense-pulsed light (IPL):

Intense pulsed lights are non-laser, high-intensity light sources that make use of a high-output flashlamp to produce a broad wavelength output of noncoherent light, usually in the 500 to 1200 nanometers range. It works on the deeper layers of the skin due to its ability to penetrate deeper, thus helping with issues like age spots, broken capillaries, and spider veins.

ii) Light-emitting Diode (LED):

LED treatments are meant for minor skin problems, as they are able to penetrate only the outer layer of the skin’s epidermis. They work by using an array of bright light-emitting diodes that send low-level light energy using a handheld device or lamp. Red light LED stimulates cellular activity, including the fibroblasts that produce collagen, which gives skin a plumper appearance.


3. Risks involved with photofacials

Risks involved with photofacials

When it comes to risks involved with photofacials, Dr. Sharma shed some light on their considerably high safety profile as a whole. LED treatments are relatively superficial and hence devoid of any side effects. It can trigger migraines in sensitive patients and is contraindicated in patients suffering from epilepsy or seizures. On the other hand, IPL treatments rarely cause pigmentation when it is performed by a specialist. IPL facials should be done possibly under the supervision of a dermatologist.


4. How to prep for a photofacial appointment

How to prep for a photofacial appointment

Like any other clinical skin treatment, photofacials also require some amount of prep. Fortunately, they don't require a lot of preparation, which is yet another benefit.

Before you book an appointment, do proper research on the establishment that you pick to get the facial done. Look up customer testimonials and have an open discussion about what the treatment entails and the kind of results you should be expecting. Stop using night creams containing retinol or glycolic acid agents, at least one week before the procedure. Make sure that you are regular with your sunscreen application before the procedure.


5. Post procedure care tips to follow after photofacials

Post procedure care tips to follow after photofacials

As post-procedure precautions go, Dr. Sharma recommends, “Avoid exfoliating ingredients like retinol, glycolic and salicylic acid for a few days after the procedure. Sunscreen application is a must, especially after your procedure. Avoid using hot water or steam. Do not use any makeup immediately after the procedure. Avoid harsh soaps, toners and any other products that may cause irritation immediately after the procedure.

It is often recommended to avoid photofacials while traveling. Even though there is no downtime needed for any ‘healing’ some people might still need at least a day for their skin to move on from any redness or sensitivity.


6. Did you know?

Did you know?

Not only are photofacials extremely beneficial, but they are also hugely popular with skin experts as well. Dr. Sharma revealed, “I personally consider them one of my favourites, as they not only add immense value to the skin health but are closer to nature. They stimulate the body’s own regenerative mechanisms to give the ‘natural glow’ everyone seeks. They are very safe and can be done without any side effects or risks. They are very ‘mood-enhancing’ and actually help patients relax as well, which is my most favourite part.”

The popularity of such non-invasive treatments might also be attributed to an increase in safety protocols by consumers and clinics alike. According to Dr. Divya, “Due to the pandemic, there has been a safety concern to get surgical or invasive procedures, which may require hospital admission. There is an inherent fear to visit hospitals to the risk of contracting an infection. Non- invasive treatments are outpatient and appear safer during these uncertain times.”


7. FAQs about photofacial

FAQs about photofacial

1) How often should you go in to get photofacials done?

A. LED treatments can be done bi-weekly while IPL treatments can be spaced a month apart. However LED treatments can be combined with other procedures like skin surfacing or acne scar removal to improve redness associated with them.

2) Do photofacials tighten skin?

A. Yes, in addition to boosting collagen production, photofacials can help tighten skin as well. Reduction of large pores, removal of brown spots, reduction in the appearance of capillaries, and correction of uneven skin tone are some of the major benefits of this popular skin treatment.

3) Are photofacials painful?

A. Photofacials are a totally safe light-based treatment and cause little to no pain during the procedure. They are considered a relaxing experience and any visible redness on the skin vanishes within a couple of days.

4) Are photofacial results permanent?​

A. Yes, IPL photofacial treatments can permanently fade dark spots on your skin. Having said that, we should mention that while results are permanent for existing skin issues, photofacials do not guarantee protection for future skin damage. 

5) Can IPL damage your skin?

A. No, IPL treatments do not cause visible skin damage as compared to abrasive lasers and invasive skin treatment. They have limited power and when used by a professional, can have many benefits for your skin, without any side effects involved.