The association that most people make when it comes to the effects of light on the skin is a negative one. After all, many of us have heard how damaging sunlight can be to the skin and how it causes conditions such as freckles, blemishes, sunspots and prematurely aging to name just a few effects of too much or the wrong kind of light. There is a certain irony then in the fact that one of the most popular and effective remedies for these kinds of conditions are Broadband Light (BBL) treatments.
What is broadband light?
Broadband Light (also called Intense Pulsed Light), is a non-invasive, cosmetic treatment that uses light energy to heat up the upper layers of the skin. The heat that is absorbed by the targeted areas then stimulates skin cells to regenerate new collagen. Collagen is a protein produced by the body that – among other things – helps maintain skin elasticity and suppleness, protects skin cells and increases circulation in the blood vessels. BBL does all of this by utilizing an array of wave-lengths (thus broad band) depending on the skin condition that is being treated. The technology has been around for more than 20 years and the conditions it has been proven to treat include:
- Sun damage
- Freckles and sun spots
- Persistent redness or flushness
- Age spots
- Facial veins
- Minor burns
Although most people undergoing BBL treatments find the procedure painless, many doctors give their patients the option of having a numbing cream applied to them for extra comfort. After that, the patient is usually given safety glasses to protect the eyes. Finally, the patient is exposed to light pulses that while not painful are not without sensation. Some patients describe the feeling as being snapped by a rubber band. After all this, the procedure takes anywhere from a few minutes to a half an hour depending on the size of the treated area. Three to five treatments are usually required at monthly intervals for patients undergoing Broadband Light therapy. Thereafter, 2-4 treatments annually are typically recommended. Although not FDA approved for this, there is evidence that Broadband Light therapy’s effects go beyond superficial changes to the skin. A 2012 study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology concluded that BBL can change the expression of genes associated with the aging process so that they actually resemble young skin. This indicates that Broadband Light makes functional changes to the skin on a molecular level.
After the Procedure
As a rule, very little downtime is required since Broadband Light treatment is minimally invasive. There may be some redness that typically resolves itself within hours. For people who have dark areas of skin to be treated, they may experience darkening of those areas followed by flaking off of the affected skin. Usually treated skin will begin to feel smoother and lines and other imperfections will gradually become less noticeable. Yes, Broadband Light therapy is a procedure that is safe, effective and painless. (It is not recommended for pregnant women and certain other conditions. Consult with your physician before undergoing the procedure.) Broadband Light therapy is the latest weapon in an arsenal against the effects of aging skin.