IPL (intense pulsed light) is a laser-like treatment for improving the appearance and condition of sun-damaged skin. We use the BBL-Hero form of IPL which offers significant benefits over laser and older IPL treatments. BBL is much faster, hurts less and there is minimal downtime after treatment.
Broad band light (BBL) is a light-based procedure similar to a laser that can treat the signs of sun-damaged and ageing skin such as freckles, blood vessels and loose skin with fine wrinkles.
At Spot Check Clinic, we mainly use BBL treatment for areas of skin that have visible signs of sun damage. Pigmented conditions that are treated by BBL include:
The treatment is also effective at treating vascular lesions such as:
The treated skin looks clearer, younger and healthier after treatment.
In limited cases, BBL can potentially reduce the risk of skin cancer in the treated area, but for most people, it should be considered a cosmetic treatment only.
Other uses of BBL include:
BBL is not the best treatment for cosmetic removal of moles, seborrhoeic keratoses, skin tags or other raised skin lesions. We offer other treatments such as radiosurgery, electrosurgery, cryotherapy and shave excisions to better manage these lesions.
BBL treatment has been shown to have rejuvenating effects on the skin (Bitter 2013).
Note: BBL has not been shown to reduce the risk of skin cancer except in cases where it is used to treat solar keratoses.
BBL is a type of intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment. IPL is extremely bright light applied to the skin in short concentrated flashes.
The colour or wavelength of light can be selected to target selected structures in the skin:
Cosmetic treatments like BBL are effective because the energy applied to the skin is so intense that it heats and damages the target structures, leaving normal skin behind.
There is a highly efficient cooling system built into the BBL handpiece that maintains a low skin surface temperature after the short burst of light. This cooling protects the skin surface and typically results in a short flash of warmth rather than a burning sensation. In some cases, we use more intense energy to treat prominent pigmentation or blood vessels. This sometimes feels like a very brief flash of pain, which subsides almost instantly.
Because the light generated by BBL equipment is extremely bright, you will need to wear block-out goggles or tinted glasses to protect your eyes when receiving a full-face treatment.
Treatment can be applied in different ways:
"Hero" refers to High Energy Rapid Output (proprietary name).
This form of skin treatment is available only on Sciton equipment which has been available in Australia since 2000.
Advantages over conventional/older IPL treatments include:
BBL treatment is delivered by the Sciton mJoule device.
The BBL equipment provides a range of specialised programs and settings which can be tailored for your specific needs:
You will usually need more than one treatment session to obtain the best possible result. The settings are re-evaluated after each session to optimise results and your experience during treatment.
Compared with traditional laser treatments, BBL is a relatively safe process. This is one of the reasons we offer this treatment, which has most laser benefits without some of its major drawbacks.
Significant problems are rare but can occur:
We manage these risks by carefully selecting machine settings and checking your medical history, medications, previous skin treatments and sun exposure.
Any suspicious-looking skin lesions, spots or lumps will be checked by an experienced skin cancer doctor prior to treatment. We can provide preventative medication to reduce the risk of cold sore outbreaks if required. The possibility of burns is greatly reduced with the BBL technology but can occur. If a burn does occur, our doctor and nurse will instigate a treatment program, which produces excellent results.
If you are properly prepared for treatment, treatment is more effective in a shorter period, and there is much less risk of discomfort and irritation during and after the procedure.
For at least two days before (and after) treatment, do not use any active skin product which might make your skin sensitive. These include:
Note: In some cases, your doctor will prescribe a cream or ointment for the area to be treated. This is more likely if your BBL treatment is for a skin cancer or pre-cancer condition. In this case, we will provide advice about how to use the prescribed/recommended medication or product.
If the skin is pigmented or tanned, it's harder for the BBL to target specific problem areas and structures.
For two weeks before your treatment, we recommend that you avoid:
Don't use tinted cosmetics or sunscreens on the area for 2-3 days before your treatment.
If there is any hair in the treatment area, shave it off as closely as possible.
Do not wear make-up of any kind.
Wear light-coloured loose clothing that will allow access to the area to be treated, e.g. a singlet for treatment of arms, shoulders or chest.
We take photos of your skin before every treatment. This provides evidence of how well the treatment has worked on your skin.
All photos are stored in the MoleScope/DermEngine shared medical record system so that you can follow your progress by looking at the photos. You can add your own photos to this record if you wish.
We can add resources about your treatments and aftercare to ensure that you have information about your treatments and follow-up.
You will wear tinted glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from bright flashes of light during the treatment.
The nurse or dermal therapist administering your treatment will apply a gel to the treatment area. This gel improves the contact between the handpiece and the skin, as well as reducing friction. Anaesthetic creams or gels are not required.
Bright light is emitted from a handpiece in contact with the skin:
Treatments usually last only a few minutes for each body area.
During treatment, the handpiece emits extremely bright flashes of light, which only last a fraction of a second. If the therapist is using a gliding motion, flashes of light occur 3 or 4 times per second.
Each flash feels like a very brief hot and sharp sensation. This immediately settles due to cooling from the handpiece straight after the flash of light.
Your nurse or therapist will clean and moisturise the area and apply sunscreen.
You will discuss whether further treatments are required and book a follow-up appointment if necessary.
The results of treatment are usually visible in about 2 weeks for facial treatments and 4 weeks for other parts of the body. In the meantime, you may notice mild redness, followed by small dark dots in the treated area. This is a sign that the treatment has damaged pigmented structures in the skin and your immune system is "cleaning up" leftover pigment.
You should avoid sun exposure and any irritant creams, ointments or cosmetics unless they have been specifically recommended by your therapist or doctor.
See our Aftercare page for further information.
When getting BBL "laser" treatment, you will wear goggles or dark tinted glasses to shield your face from the intense light. A therapist will apply a lubricating gel to the treatment area to increase contact of the handpiece crystal with the skin. Then, a highly effective cooling system built into the handpiece cools the skin surface, while carefully selected filters allow heat and energy to target specific structures in the skin for rejuvenation. The new BBL handpiece contains dual, alternating flashing lights that allow most of the treatment to be undertaken with the handpiece in motion. This together with multiple passes at a lower energy output, results in a treatment that is less painful, much more even and less likely to result in downtime. The old-fashioned “stamping” technique (commonly used in laser treatment), with its risk of over and undertreatment, is largely eliminated. Discomfort during the treatment is typically minimal, with anaesthetic cream rarely required.
Before getting BBL treatment, obtain clearance from our doctor for any moles you have in the treatment area. Avoid active skin products that make your skin sensitive for 2 days before treatment, such as tretinoin or other retinoids along with acids such vitamin C and alpha hydroxy acids. Do not wear any cosmetics, tinted moisturiser or sunscreen on the day of treatment. If applicable, shave the area to be treated. Following these BBL preparation recommendations will help ensure that the laser skin care procedure goes smoothly and works effectively.
Most patients report slightly flushed skin, redness and a mild sunburn-like sensation that lasts a few hours. A small proportion of patients have some mild puffiness under their eyes on the day after treatment. There is a small risk of burns in the affected area. Eye injury due to bad use of safety glasses is possible but rare. BBL treatment can cause an outbreak of cold sores in susceptible people.
In most cases, a course of 3 or more treatments is required for the best results and skin health. After treatment, you should avoid direct sun exposure and wear sunscreen even if the weather is not hot or bright. Active skin treatments such as retinoids, tretinoin, vitamin C, and prescription creams and ointments should be avoided for a period of time, unless your doctor has given explicit advice to use them following BBL treatment. There will usually be mild redness and after a few days small dark spots may appear in the treatment area. The full result of treatment will usually be visible in about 2 weeks for the face and 4 weeks for the body.
Pregnancy, photosensitivity, light-induced migraines or epilepsy, medication that causes light-induced rash or skin sensitivity.
BBL treatment can result in reduced hair growth in the treated area. We recommend not treating areas where you want to maintain full hair growth. People with darker skin (Fitzpatrick V and VI) may not achieve satisfactory results and are more likely to experience unwanted pigmentation changes following BBL or laser treatment. Many of the conditions treated by BBL are long term, and cannot be cured with a single BBL treatment course. You may gain further benefits with maintenance treatments in the future. BBL can treat visible signs of sun damage, but it has not been shown to reduce skin cancer risk in the treated area.
IPL (intense pulsed light) is a treatment for sun-damaged skin and other skin conditions. Spot Check Clinic uses IPL therapy for removal of freckles (“age spots”), facial redness and capillaries (“spider veins”), skin tightening, rosacea, hair removal, scar reduction and some skin cancers and pre-cancer lesions.
Thinking of having a mole, skin tag, angioma or other unwanted lump or spot removed? There are a few ways of doing this and we want to make sure we choose the right one. Save time on an initial consultation by sending photos of your mole.
Excessive skin pigmentation is often a sign of long-term sun exposure and in itself isn’t harmful (although it can be a sign of sun-damaged skin which is at risk of developing cancer). Many people with skin pigmentation find it unsightly. For these people, multiple pigmentation removal treatments are available. Spot Check Clinic offers BBL intense pulsed light treatment which can be highly effective in treating pigmentation due to sun exposure.
Rosacea is made worse by heat, sun exposure and wearing a mask. We are seeing a lot of it lately! We now offer a range of treatments including BBL intense pulsed light, prescription medications and non-prescription skin products.
All surgical procedures leave scars, which are sometimes unsightly and uncomfortable. We're now offering new treatments to help prevent overgrown scars, and reduce existing ones.
Intense pulsed light is a convenient and effective way of making the skin look younger to observers. Biopsies of treated skin have shown that the skin also resembles younger skin microscopically, and also expresses genes in a way similar to younger skin.
Information about the BBL Hero broad band light system including before and after photos