Careful, caring IPL treatment clears 'untreatable' rosacea

February 1, 2006

New York — When rosacea sufferer Alice Barker (not her real name) scheduled a consultation appointment with Manhattan dermatologist Harvey Jay, M.D., it wasn't a second or even third opinion she was seeking. It was a fourth.

New York - When rosacea sufferer Alice Barker (not her real name) scheduled a consultation appointment with Manhattan dermatologist Harvey Jay, M.D., it wasn't a second or even third opinion she was seeking. It was a fourth.

Alice's history

Dr. Jay, who also serves as clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York, says Alice's bright red facial rosacea developed to the point that the then-59-year-old secretary had left her job due to her embarrassment at being seen and the frequent severe pain and burning sensations she was suffering.

Treating Alice

Dr. Jay started Alice's treatments in December 2004. He says he used a standard IPL device "that's been on the market for 10 years" and began very cautiously with Alice.

"Initial stages of treatment were crucial in this case because of the extreme redness and sensitivity," Dr. Jay says."I began by doing test areas at very low dosages to see what she could bear in terms of dosage. I started at 16 joules per square centimeter, where normally I would start a patient at 30, 40 or 50 joules. Just as with my other rosacea patients, I treated Alice every three to four weeks."

Small steps

Dr. Jay says he began treating small spots below Alice's chin, was able to eventually increase the IPL dosage and then started on the cheeks with narrow strips of IPL exposure.

"I was looking for clearing, and I finally saw some on one strip on the cheek after the April treatment," he says.

By that time, Dr. Jay had found that the ideal IPL setting for Alice's rosacea was 52 joules to 54 joules per square centimeter, but cautioned that that setting is particular to Alice's condition and can vary with each machine. He says he also used a 550 nm cut-off filter.

"I saw immediate blanching after Alice's fifth treatment, in May, and after the June treatment, I saw the dramatic clearing improvement," Dr. Jay says.

Dr. Jay's cautiously executed IPL treatment has resulted in the almost total clearance of Alice's rosacea on the left cheek.