Monday, June 25, 2012

My Awesome IPL Experience

Come on, let's admit it, the underarms have been every girl's obsession. I admit being one of those who wished she had the underarms of every deodorant ad model - the smooth, white, and hair-free underarms as smooth as a baby's bottom. Alas, with constant plucking, waxing, and not to mention harsh deodorant formulations, that has remained a dream, until finally I took the plunge and had my underarms undergo IPL treatment.

IPL or intense pulsed light is a form of hair removal that soon results in permanently hair-free skin. It is used on the legs, back, arms, bikini line, and of course, underarms. Unlike shaving or depilatory creams that cuts hair at the surface or plucking and waxing, which removes hair from the root, IPL has focused

"broad-spectrum light is applied to the surface of the skin by way of either a hand-held wand or an articulated arm. This light travels through the skin until it strikes the hair shafts or the bulb (root) of the hair. The bulb is usually where the highest concentration of melanin is located, as opposed to the rest of the hair shaft. As the light is converted to heat energy, the bulb and most of the hair shaft are instantly vaporized" (source: Wikipedia)

IPL treatments are usually given by dermatologists or dermatological or facial centers with trained specialists to perform this procedure in patients. This procedure can permanently remove unwanted hair in underarms, legs, and bikini line resulting in silky-smooth skin because there's no more need to shave, pluck, wax, or use depilatory creams (and that alone by the way is a convenience in itself).

Dr. Divina Viola performs CO2 Laser on a patient. Photo taken from her Facebook account.
I had mine done by my good friend from pole class, Dr. Divina Viola, whose inspiring story I featured last October. Appearing in sleeveless cropped tops most of the time during training, it would be embarassing to raise my arms in cross-ankle or dangerous brain with unshaven or dark underarms, right? 

Before my first treatment, Divine advised me on the following: If I do shave my underarms, I should not shave three days prior to the procedure. At best, it's good to come there with the underarms, in hmmm, what I should say virgin forest level for the doctor or therapist  to assess where to concentrate the treatment and what intensity to use.

Also, take note that IPL is not for everyone. There are those who cannot undergo IPL namely:

  • Those with dark brown to black natural skin
  • Those with white, gray or blonde natural hair
  • presence of skin disorders or infection
  • Pregnant or nursing moms
  • Impaired immune system
  • Medications/herbs known to induce photosensitivity to light exposure (as light is the medium to be used here)
  • Excessively tanned skin in the desired treatment area/s from the sun, sun beds or tanning creams within the last 2 weeks before the treatment
  • Skin exfoliation, bleaching or microdermabrasion in the desired treatment area within the last 2 weeks before treatment
  • Skin cancer, as well as any other type of cancer , or premalignant moles

That's why before IPL, it's best to take the necessary precautions to avoid further complications. If you wish to give your underarms a photoshoot-worthy overhaul (i.e. IPL, peeling, bleaching), do the IPL procedure first, wait two weeks, and then proceed with bleaching. While I was already in my 20s when I got my IPL session, Divine told me that girls can receive IPL by the time they're 15 years old.

Anyway, going back to my experience. On my first day ever, she asked me if I was sensitive to pain. Being a pole dancer, pain has been my middle name, but unlike metal friction, she said this was going to be heat, I was like, "ermmm... maybe I might need something to desensitize my skin." She got an ice pack from the freezer, which would serve to numb the pain when heat is applied. After that, she prepped my skin with wipes to clean it (another tip, don't wear deodorant or lotion prior to treatment) and shaved my underarms and checked where to assess it. She told me to wear protective goggles and look away when there's a flash of light to protect my eyes.

The wand used to apply the light looks like this:

What you experience though, is a bit of light flash (look away and don't forget to wear the protective goggles/shades!) with a slight "pop" sound (similar to a camera flash) followed by a minor heat sensation. Depending on your skin sensitivity, results and pain tolerance can vary. For me, it felt like little pixie punches, like three Tinkerbell fairies threw punches at my armpit. There was a little sting right after but nothing that I couldn't handle, as again, I'm a girl used to pain. Oh, and it is also advised to wear protective clothing after the procedure (i.e. leggings if IPL would be done to legs, and for facial IPL, best wear protective sunscreen). 

For the first four sessions, it was recommended that I get my treatment done every other week. The following four sessions would be done monthly. The intensity of the treatment may increase per session (I started with intensity 2 then progressed to intensity 3). The procedure is also very fast, I think 10 minutes tops, so it's okay to do this during lunch hour and you still have time to order milk tea or have lunch after.

According to Divine, 80-100% permanent hair reduction is usually seen on the 7th or 8th week. After the 8th treatment, the patient could still undergo spot treatments to remove the minimal latent hairs which were not previously treated (latent hairs have a 6-month to two-year cycle)

As for my side effects, it will sting a bit after, like a little burn sensation but it dies off eventually. I didn't have any itching after (I was given dexamethasone cream in case I experience any itching, but I didn't). After the procedure, I just let my skin rest by not putting any lotion or cream on it, save for dexamethasone if it did itch.

I really think that IPL is a good investment, especially for girls who would want the liberty to just go ahead and wear that tank top on that hot summer weather without worrying. The skin on my underarms also improved because I had no need to shave or pluck anymore, which caused darkening. Folliculitis or irritation of the hair follicle (it's sort of like a pimple-like painful red bump) can be avoided too. However, in my opinion, it's best to go to a doctor or a reputable skin clinic to have treatments.

(photo by Fritz Tentativa)

On a personal note, I was able to notice slower growth upon my fourth session. The hairs that do grow are finer, and almost unnoticeable After 7 sessions of IPL treatments. There's no photoshop done in the photo, as my friend Fritz doesn't overly blur skin (yaye Fritz! You know what I want). Love how my underarms have become smoother, fairer, and no more of the nicks and gashes caused by OC hair removal.

Think of getting IPL? Then go get!

1 comment:

Divine said...

Thanks Bambi!