I’ve been visiting the good people at The Ottawa Clinic for some skincare treatments lately and have been quite excited to share my experiences with you.
My first step towards better skin was to start undoing the sun damage I have been subjecting my skin to since I first started slathering myself with Hawaiian Dark Tanning Oil when I was around twelve years old. Yikes. And that is not the only way I got the sun damage I have. Years of just walking around, driving in my car with the sunroof open or the top down, and not wearing sunscreen have taken their toll. Sunscreen simply wasn’t a thing in the seventies and eighties.
So. What is sun damage? Basically it is what happens to your skin in the sun. There really is no safe way to enjoy the sun without some sun damage, short of wearing UV protective clothing. Sunscreen helps, but I know from experience that even with judicious application of SPF 50 every forty five minutes to an hour, I still get toasty brown in the sun. Like my father, I can get tan sitting in the shade just having sun reflecting on me. And my skin has paid a price.
My face was starting to show signs of age spots and areas of hyperpigmention that I had barely noticed. When we stare at our own faces every day, subtle changes occurring over the years can be hard to see. And not just my face. My décolletage suffered the worst damage of all. Funny how I would apply sunscreen products to my face every day, but somehow miss my neck and chest. In the past, the only time I burned, it was on my chest. This all came to be painfully obvious after my first visit to The Ottawa Clinic’s Dr. Nodwell.
I agreed to explore some procedures with The Ottawa Clinic to share with my readers here. And at fifty one, addressing the symptoms of ageing on my skin were top on my list of Things To Work On. To be honest, I had never really considered laser treatments, but I think that was only because I didn’t really know what they did. I thought lasers were for SEVERE pigmentation issues, maybe even scarring, but how they worked and what the results could be were a mystery to me. Dr. Nodwell and his nurse Melinda took the time to explain a myriad of options to me, and one of them was their IPL Icon™ Laser Skin Rejuvenation.
IPL is a non-invasive “light based” procedure performed right in their office, and the technology helps clear brown spots (sun spots, age spots, liver spots, melasma), sun damage that includes lost elasticity in skin, and broken blood vessels. One to three treatments are usually all it takes to get clearer skin. The IPL machine has a hand-held device sort of like a glue gun but bigger and much more complicated, and it emits a pulsed light to target the brown spots, sun damage and blood vessels without damaging the surrounding skin. Here is where is gets magical: the light delivered to your skin is attracted to the hyperpigmentation and causes them to slowly disappear through the skin’s natural healing process. There is also a slight skin tightening effect. When the skin is “damaged” by the IPL, your body’s own collagen is stimulated into action and starts healing the skin. So firmer skin is another wonderful side effect of IPL.
Funny – I was still kind of “Sure Jan” about it all, as it sounded rather abstract, and I for one did not have any sun damage! I thought….
So I went to see Melinda for my first treatment. It was to my face and chest, but as it turns out, I am a big baby regarding pain. There was an option for a numbing cream to be applied before but I opted out. Because of my squealing and squirming the intensity had to be dialled down to almost nothing and it still kind of hurt. The results were very light. So, a few weeks later I went back and Melinda obligingly coated my face, neck and chest in the numbing cream. I sat for around 30 minutes to let it sink in, making videos like this:
I would say for ME, the numbing cream is a must. I always thought I was pretty tough. Yank on my hair at the salon – no problem. Electrolysis – I actually kind of love it. IPL? Please apply my numbing cream and bring me my blankie. Here we go – warning, absolutely no makeup or filters ahead. You’ve been warmed.
So when you look at my skin above, you can obviously see the red spots where the IPL was honing in on sun damage. Little did I know how bad it was. That is what you see as the healing begins. Also, note the skin in my cleavage that is a little like Magda from Something About Mary. But seriously, the skin is damaged and lacking firmness so it’s wrinkled and just too tan.
What happens in the days after IPL treatment, and what can one expect? I was told to expect some redness, and then the age spots and sun spots will come to the surface of the skin and slough off, looking a bit like coffee grounds on the skin. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it.
There is a big difference in the effect of the IPL on my face versus my décolletage. I have been judicious about using facial sunscreen and it was apparent with the lack of redness – there was very little hyper pigmentation. The first treatment I had, that was very light, actually took away most of what little sun damage there was, leaving little brown flakes of skin a few days after the treatment. I might have had a few spots after this treatment, but not many. So as you can plainly see, the IPL only targets hyper-pigmentation. I was HORRIFIED when I saw my chest. At first because it was red and tender, and then when I realised WHY it was red and tender.
So around a week after treatment, the ugly truth of my sun damage rises to the surface of my skin. I was shocked. But, can you notice the little spots of pale skin in the centre of the dark flakes? That my friends, is virgin skin.
I should mention that my 30 day recovery is not the norm. I went for the super high level of IPL treatment, and my sun damage was clearly awful. I am waiting another 30 days before the next treatment. But, since I have now seen what my skin looks like under all that sun damage, I am ready for it.
As you can see above, the flaking is subsiding leaving behind pre tan skin with no brown spots. I was concerned about the fact that there are actually visible spots. This is because the sun damage was so extreme, the hyper pigmentation ate up every last drop of energy shot out by the IPL. Dr. Nodwell and Melinda explained to me that they will use a different “grid” pattern to apply the IPL in my next treatment to even out the skint one. It’s pretty dramatic.
Currently my skin is a soft as a baby, the wrinkles in my cleavage are gone, and the treated spots on my chest are like porcelain. My skin there glows. But, as you can see, there is still some mottling going on, so the next treatment will be done a different grid, to get the remaining sections of pigmented skin.
Stay tuned for the continuation of this series! I will be posting about my subsequent IPL treatment in a few weeks. And, I will go over my divine Botox treatments in my next post!