IPL for Dry Eye, MGD, and Blepharitis | Everything You Need To Know
What is IPL? Intense Pulsed Light Definition
IPL is short for Intense Pulsed Light and is exactly what it sounds like. It is a surgical method normally used for cosmetic procedures such as those for hair reduction and photo-rejuvenation. It makes the use of a handheld, computer-controlled flash gun that utilizes an intense beam of light for removal of undesired features, such as hair, fine lines, and skin discoloration.
This procedure is similar to laser surgery in the sense that it also uses heat and light, but it differs from laser surgery in how it uses that heat and light. IPL uses only one wavelength of light, which in simple terms means that it uses only one specific color of light. That difference is what allows IPL to be so specific in what it treats.
This procedure is used for both medical and cosmetic procedures, although it is more commonly used in the cosmetic industry. The reason for that is that it is an incredibly efficient way to reduce hair, specifically darker and more course hair that distracts from the original hue and breadth. This procedure doesn't remove hair but rather reduces it. That means that it doesn’t actually get rid of the hair completely but prevents it in growing back in certain areas.
IPL is not limited to just hair reduction. It is also used for Dry Eye, MGD, and Blepharitis treatments because it can be used to treat inflammation. By treating small capillaries, inflammatory markers are reduced and, often, the patient will feel more comfortable after just a few treatments.
IPL can be used as a treatment for dry eye because it targets some of the inflammation causing this disease. Both MGD and blepharitis are major contributors to this inflammation.
MGD stands for Meibomian Gland Dysfunction and occurs when the meibomian glands stop functioning properly. The glands are normally in charge of supplying the eye with the proper quality and quantity of oil so that it doesn't dry out. Blockage of the meibomian glands can cause them to malfunction, and this can occur for a variety of reasons. Mostly, this happens due to age, other skin conditions such as ocular rosacea and demodex, and even inflammation going on in other parts of the body.
Blepharitis is a condition in which the eyelids become inflamed. The condition can affect both the eyelids at once and can be a very difficult condition to treat. Apart from dry eyes, it can cause irritation and often redness of the eyelid margins and the eyes.
These two diseases can easily cause dry eye, which is why it is important to make sure you’re keeping both blepharitis and MGD under control. The reason why IPL works is because the light used can target inflamed cells that are causing irritation and discomfort, leading to more comfortable eyes with less inflammation overall.
IPL For Dry Eye Costs
IPL has been looked into as a potential solution for dry eye since 2004. The reason why it was not quick to become commonplace is for two main reasons. The first is that it costs a lost to actually purchase the machinery that is required for the procedure. The second is that not enough research had been done to actually determine the efficacy of the procedure. Since then, enough research has been done on both the procedure and the actual machinery. Many eye doctor’s offices around the world are using this technology to treat dry eye patients.
The procedure can cost anywhere from $400 to $800, depending on the doctor and the state that you are in. Some insurances may help cover this procedure, although some may deem it cosmetic only.
Usually, IPL is not a one time deal. Multiple treatments may be needed to find relief, and your doctor’s office may even offer packages that make the procedure less expensive when purchased.
IPL vs. LipiFlow
LipiFlow is also often cited as a suitable alternative to IPL, even though there are some key differences between them. The main difference is that LipiFlow is a procedure that is used in only one industry (dry eye), whereas IPL is not limited to just one. It is used for dry eye, but also in multiple cosmetic and dermatological procedures as well.
In addition to this, there are multiple manufacturers for an IPL machine, but there is only one manufacturer that makes LipiFlow. LipiFlow is restricted in the sense that only one institute is in charge of researching all there is about the procedure, although there have also been many other independent studies done on LipiFlow. It also means that the price is subject to that company's decisions. If they feel like the price is too low, they can change it without any hesitation, as they are the only ones in control of it.
The other stark difference between the two procedures is in the actual procedure itself. IPL uses intense light to devitalize inflammatory cells in the treatment area (which may be on just the eyelids or on the entire face). LipiFlow uses thermal pulsation which is directed onto the eyelids only, allowing meibum oil to be removed from the glands more readily.
In the end, it all comes down to what your doctor recommends and what you are most comfortable with. You should remember that your doctor can give you the most relevant and up to date information about both procedures available to you.
Additional Uses | IPL for Rosacea
IPL is not only useful for treating dry eye disease. IPL can also be used to treat a multitude of other skin conditions. The primary of these is rosacea. Rosacea is a fairly common skin condition in which the skin becomes red, blood vessels become visible on your face, and the skin on your face may become home to small, red, pus-filled bumps.
These symptoms do not happen all at once and do not persist forever. They may flare up for certain weeks or months and then go back down for just as long. This irregularity in their appearance often leads people to misdiagnose this condition as acne, an allergic reaction, or another type of inflammation.
This skin condition can occur in anyone, but there is a certain profile that is more susceptible. Rosacea is most common in middle-aged women of fair complexion. It is more common in smokers, and your chances of ending up with rosacea increase exponentially if your family has a history of it. This means that there are certain genetic factors associated with rosacea. It may be hard to detect even if you do fit the bill, but there are certain symptoms that you can keep in mind if you think that you have rosacea:
This skin condition causes redness in the central part of your face. This happens because the blood vessels on your nose and cheeks become more visible. The blood vessels become easier to see because they swell.
Rosacea can also cause bumps on your face. These bumps resemble those caused by acne and may sometimes be filled with pus. They cause the skin on your face to feel hot and tender to the touch.
Rhinophyma is a condition in which the nose becomes swollen and bulbous because the skin of the nose has become thicker. This happens more commonly in men than women, but it has been noticed in both genders.
Rosacea can be accompanied by eye problems such as dry eye and swollen eyelids. These symptoms typically happen in about half the people afflicted with rosacea, and dry eye complications are often the first sign that someone might be suffering from rosacea.
Causes of Rosacea:
As of yet, there is no one certain cause for rosacea, but there are certain environmental factors that can aggravate the condition. These are:
Hot drinks and spicy foods
High winds and intense sunlight
Changes in emotion
Certain drugs, including those for medicinal purposes
These can make the condition worse because they can increase blood flow to the blood vessels on your face and thus trigger the condition.
The reason why IPL is useful for rosacea is that the light used in the procedure can target the blood vessels that have become swollen and reduce the effects that they cause on your face. It is one of the more effective treatments for rosacea and is also incredibly quick to work. The swollen vessels are broken down and absorbed, thus reducing the redness and any of the other symptoms that are caused by this condition.
Acne is a problem that we are all familiar with. It is the most common skin condition in the world and afflicts millions each year. The actual condition occurs when pores become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. This can cause whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples throughout the affected area. Acne usually goes away on its own but never permanently. It can also cause a lot of emotional distress and in severe cases, scarring.
Acne is quite reactive to home remedies, but there are a lot of cases in which those remedies just refuse to work. Acne can persist for years, especially in women, and can cause a lot of problems for their self-esteem. There is hope however, because IPL is quickly becoming a solid contender in the fight against acne. IPL is useful against acne in two stages. The first is when the actual acne is afflicting your face. The light therapy can actually destroy the acne-causing bacteria and thus alleviate the effects that they have on your skin. This technique deals with the problem at the core and thus prevents other instances in the long run.
The other case in which IPL is useful against acne is when you think it is already too late. As you know, acne can cause scars. You'll be glad to know that you can use IPL to actually remove the scarring caused by acne and make your skin look as clear as it has ever looked. The process is pretty painless and can be performed in a few minutes. As always, it is best to get your dermatologist’s opinion so that you can be sure that this procedure is in your best interest.
Have you tried IPL for either a skin condition or dry eye? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below!