Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My First IPL and SkinSpirit Palo Alto

About three weeks ago I got to do something exciting for myself, that I've never done before, I got IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) treatment for my brown spots and rosacea. It all began when I was invited to have a consultation at a lovely skincare clinic and spa called SkinSpirit in Palo Alto.

Skin Spirit is a skincare clinic and spa founded and supervised by Stanford-trained, board certified plastic surgeon Dr. M. Dean Vistnes and his handpicked team of skincare professionals. Dr. Vistnes has a local private practice as well, but wanted to create a space that offers all the latest skin care technologies in a spa like environment.

I didn't know much about medical spas or SkinSpirit, but was intrigued. They invited me to come in for a visit and a personal consultation. I really enjoyed my chat with Cara Fonteyne, an R.N. and also a director there.

 To be honest, I am a complete newbie to all non-surgical cosmetic procedures. The closest I have gotten to anti-aging is my use of retin-A and sunscreen. I told Cara one thing I was considering was IPL, which I know is very effective on rosacea, my big issue, and also dark spots from sun exposure. She agreed that it was a good choice for someone just beginning to think about doing more for my skin in the way of aging. What I liked about my consult, was she explained in detail how it works. 

The IPL is done with a light generator, not a laser. It minimizes skin discolorations from sun damage and age spots on the face and chest. It also works on vascular problems like my rosacea, by reducing redness and blotchiness, all without harming the skin surface. Cara also told me what results to expect. I never felt persuaded or pressured to do more than that which was so nice.

I made an appointment with Cara to do my 45 minute IPL treatment about 2 weeks later.  I had recently had some sun on my face from kayaking the previous weekend, so just to be safe we postponed doing the procedure that day. She wanted to make sure I got the optimum result, and no recent burns or tans should be on the skin.

Isn't it lovely? The interiors are so pretty and immaculate here at the Palo Alto location.

Knowing more about IPL and comfortable with Cara and the spa, I looked forward to coming back!

Two weeks later on a Wednesday, I checked in for my appointment. The only thing that concerned me a bit was the potential discomfort I might experience as IPL can have slight snapping sensation when each area is hit with the light. You can opt to get a numbing gel, that takes about 45 minutes to work, but most people do not feel they need it. I did not either.

After I got comfy in a reclining chair, Cara placed covers over my eyes, and then applied a cold gel to one side of my face to begin. You do get the sensation of a very tiny zap, almost like a rubber band snap, and you sense a bright light. It's not painful as much as surprising. I found some of them totally painless, and other stung for a moment, but then were gone. It actually wasn't bad at all, and I consider myself pretty sensitive. Cara worked quickly and did the quadrants of my face for dark spots, and then repeated and did the same for areas of redness. The whole process was done in about 25-30 minutes.

Cara then washed my face with a soft cleanser and applied sunscreen and moisturizer. My face felt only a slight tingling and had no visible redness at all, which surprised me! After I left I was amazed at the already soft and bright appearance of my usually ruddy cheeks and face. I had no makeup on at all, but felt okay to walk down the street to get a tea in downtown Palo Alto, since I looked so even.

One thing Cara told me to expect would be a darkening of some of my sun spots. They would look like little coffee grinds in a day and after about a week or so would slough themselves off.

For me, this procedure exceeded my expectations hugely! My redness improved almost immediately. I could see it greatly reduced my flushing throughout the day and I didn't feel I needed makeup to cover my red patches. I actually have gone many days in the last week with just sunscreen and a little powder. I think I love that effect the most. It's so nice to be able to run out the door without covering up my redness.

The tiny dark spots took about a week and a day to come completely off and the result is my face just looks brighter and lighter. Most of my dark patches were on the side of my face and forehead. They had really darkened even more in the past few years to me. I feel like I'm looking closer to the creamy coloring I had when I was in my 30s.

The front shop where SkinSpirit also sells many high quality skincare products. 
Intense Pulsed Light Treatments usually are done in a series of 3 (primary for brown spots) or 5 (primarily for redness) and spaced 3-4 weeks apart. Treatment can also be done on the neck and chest as well. Most people buy a package for their series of treatments needed.

This photo is me this week after all of my dark spots have sloughed off. I have only moisturizer on here and lip balm and mascara. I wanted to take this outside to show how much more even my skin is without the redness and patches on my cheeks with just one of these treatments. I also had a very dark spot on the center of my forehead as well as the sides of my face from sun, that are hardly visible now to me.  Most of the spots are marks I've had forever, are noticeably lighter.

If you have issues with redness and age spots, or are just interested in knowing what the latest anti-aging treatments are, SkinSpirit is your go to. They take pride in having the latest technologies, but also a super team of professionals. You can visit their SkinSpirit Website to know more about all they offer from body and massages to laser treatments, and peels and much more.

I'm planning to go back and complete my series of treatments. It's really made a difference and I feel like I'm looking a little less than my 49 years! My IPL treatment was provided by SkinSpirit, but this article and the opinions are mine as always.

I hope this gives some of you who are interested in these kinds of treatments some insight into the experience. I think I should have done this earlier! Why did it take me so long?



  1. You were stunning before the IPL and are even more so now. I've had quite a few IPL treatments for my sun damaged skin and loved the results too. It's time for a few more now. Your place looks so lovely, maybe I could book there and combine it with a lunch with you?
    Xo Jennifer

  2. Jennifer, you are too kind! I love IPL ! Looking forward to going again. Yes, let me know if you go and we can meet up. You'll love SkinSpirit. It's also in a fun part of Palo Alto with a lot of great lunch spots!!!

  3. I thought you always had good skin and you no way look your age but I know about that feeling of being refreshed bc I did this when I was in Korea but I also did some laser for the darker freckles. It took me a week and a day too and I love it . I am not into fillers nor the scalpel so this is just perfect for me as a treatment.

  4. This post was so informative and helpful and the results are so impressive. I was surprised to read that the procedure only took about half an hour. The interior looks so calm and inviting too which is so important and makes a huge difference.

  5. I've never had it explained as well as you just did. And, the results are yummy. Your skin looks "poreless" and vibrant. 49? No way.

  6. You look fabulous and your skin is radiant. I had several IPL tratments years ago and think I might need to go back sometime soon just to keep those red areas in check. The spa looks quite serene and inviting and the staff sound very knowledgable which makes you confident that you are getting the best treatment.

  7. You look great, and nowhere near 49! I've been thinking that it's time for some anti-aging treatments myself. Thanks for the review!

  8. Yay! Good for you Kim and you look fabulous! IPL is a great treatment and it sounds like you had the best of care. Have a great weekend! xxleslie

  9. Hello beautiful Kim, Your skin looks very pretty! I had the treatment once, 2 years ago in Newport Beach, and it was amazing how texture and redness changed in just one treatment. Needless to say I'm over due and have been looking for a local spa who does IPL. This is a good reminder to make it happen. Lovely spa by the way. Happy weekend!

  10. YOU doNOT need to be doing ANYTHING!You look GREAT as you are............none of us could guess your age!NO MORE!!

  11. I know, as LC says. You have such beautiful skin. I tried to do that thing that zaps small veins but htey keep coming back. Before I went away I did that thing that tightens you skin on the neck but have not really seen the difference as it hurt so much I had to get her to turn it right down.

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