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How Many IPL Treatments Are Needed?

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Close up photo of a woman's face, eyes covered with a protective eye shield during an IPL treatment session.

Have you experienced uncomfortable, itchy, and watery eyes, only to be diagnosed with dry eye disease at your last eye exam? You are not alone. Around 30% of Canadians have symptoms associated with dry eye. 

Besides artificial tears, prescription eye drops, and supplements, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) can also treat dry eyes. We know age is a common risk factor for developing dry eye disease. The great news is that IPL can also treat fine lines and wrinkles that become more visible as we age. 

So, how many treatments of IPL are necessary? Let’s find out by discussing dry eyes, fine lines and wrinkles, and IPL in more detail.

What Is IPL?

Intense Pulsed Light is a procedure that uses gentle pulses of light on various parts of the skin. The treatment is conducted using a hand-held device in our optometrist office. 

IPL is non-invasive and very well tolerated by most patients.  You may experience minor discomfort as the treatment feels like a small elastic band snap, mild redness, and swelling in treatment areas.  These side effects only last a few hours. IPL is not suitable for pregnant women, individuals with a skin condition, on certain medications, or having a sensitivity to light. 

Dry Eye Disease

Dry eye disease is a condition that results from insufficient tears or poor-quality tears. The tear film contains water, oil, and mucous that lubricates the eye and protects it from foreign materials, such as dust or debris. 

When there is an imbalance in the tear film, it leads to dry eyes. The majority cause of dry eye disease is meibomian gland dysfunction that affects the oily layer in tears. 

The meibomian glands, which are responsible for releasing oil, become blocked, thus affecting the release of oil into the tear film and the quality of tears. Due to the imbalance, tears evaporate more quickly, leading to dry eye symptoms. 

IPL treats the underlying cause of dry eyes by delivering gentle pulses of light to the skin adjacent to the eyes. The heat from the IPL effectively:

  • Eliminates any infection
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Melts away thick secretions on the eyelids
  • Breaks build-up of oil
  • Unblocks meibomian glands

Anti-Aging Treatment

IPL is also used to treat the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in conjunction with dry eye therapy. As you age, your skin produces less collagen which is needed to maintain firmer skin. 

The heat from rapid pulses of light penetrates deep into the skin without damaging the top layer. IPL destroys unwanted cells, stimulates collagen, targets and breaks skin pigmentation, and speeds skin turnover. 

It can treat: 

  • Wrinkles
  • Fine lines
  • Acne scars
  • Spider veins
  • Blemishes 
  • Rosacea
  • Broken blood vessels on the face
A patient wearing a white bathrobe is sitting on a clinic bed while the doctor explains the anti-aging effects of IPL treatment.

How Many Treatments of IPL Are Needed?

Many patients notice an improvement in dry eye symptoms after the first or second IPL treatment. Your eye doctor will recommend a frequency based on your individual needs and the severity of your dry eyes. Our treatment protocol is usually 4 treatments over a number of weeks decided by our optometrists to be optimal for the best results. For severe dry eyes, additional treatments can ensure healthy meibomian gland function. 

Results are long lasting, and usually only require one or two treatments per year to maintain results.  

Determining the number of IPL treatments needed for cosmetic purposes will depend on several factors.

Factors that dictate the number of treatments required include:

  • Individual concerns, needs, and goals
  • Skin type
  • Treating deeper layers of the skin may require more treatment sessions.
  • Treating superficial layers of skin can require fewer treatment sessions. 

A good skincare routine and protecting your skin from sun damage after treatments and completion are crucial to maintaining younger firmer-looking skin. Because we don’t stop aging, you may need an occasional or follow-up treatment to prevent signs from returning. 

IPL for Dry Eyes & Younger Looking Skin

IPL is very effective in treating dry eye disease and is suitable for targeting signs of aging. However, the number of treatments needed will vary depending on the severity of the condition and other factors. 

Are you interested in dry eye relief with the added bonus of anti-aging benefits? If that’s a yes, book an appointment with Aurora Eye Care. During your consultation, we can answer your questions and help determine if IPL can work for you. 

Written by Dr. Kyla Hunter

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