I got 5 photofacials
After a brush with skin cancer, Brandi Gagnon of Chilliwack, British Columbia treated her fair skin to Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) photofacial treatment. Here, the 39-year-old stay-at-home mom and fitness instructor shares her skin story.
Q. How would you describe your skin type?
I am very fair skinned with lots of freckles and flat moles all over my body. I also burn very easily.
Q: You were diagnosed with melanoma when you were 33. Tell us about your skin cancer scare.
It happened after the birth of my second daughter. I had a mole in line with where they needed to make an incision for my caesarean; I had it removed and the doctors sent it off to the lab to be checked. That’s how I found out it was cancerous. Thankfully my cancer was caught very early, was only superficial and had not gone deeper. After that I started seeing a dermatologist on an annual basis, as per the BC Cancer Society and at my doctor’s orders. I have a risk of getting melanoma again, so of course I want to do what I can to help prevent that! I’ve always been a healthy eater but I made dietary changes 6 months after my cancer scare, and I’m sure its helping me lower my risk.
Q: After your mole removal, did you have any cosmetic concerns?
Yes. When looking at my face I could see lots of sunspots starting to surface more, especially since I was getting towards my mid thirties. I wanted to get rid of them given my history, and who doesn’t want to fight the signs of aging? I went for a consultation with a doctor in our city that deals strictly with skin issues. My doctor recommended that I have five IPL treatments done. I got my first treatment at age 36. In between those treatments, I had three microdermabrasions done as well to help slough off the dead skin.
Q. Describe your experience with IPL and micro.
I started my treatments in the early fall when the sun is not as intense and continued through the winter. A cooling gel is applied onto the skin to help from feeling too hot. I also put a topical numbing cream on my face before hand as well to help. I can be pretty wimpy! Immediately afterwards, skin is red and you have to watch sun exposure especially after treatment. Sunscreen every day! A day or two later you can start to see the spots coming to the surface and then basically flake off. The microdermabrasion was a great compliment to the IPL treatments – skin definitely glows more and it helps with collagen production.
Q. Did your first treatment feel different from the last one, in terms of pain?
As its been described, it is like an elastic band snapping. The forehead was the worst for me, as its mostly bone and no really muscle tissue so the snapping definitely felt more intense there. For me the intensity didn’t vary too much from the first session to the last one. Though for a few of the stubborn spots, they do increase the intensity slighty, but they do the passes quickly.
Q. How did your skin look and feel after all five IPL treatments?
It removed most of my sunspots. I had a couple stubborn ones that were very dark, but they are definitely a lot lighter. My skin had a glow and was a lot smoother and clearer looking. I had compliments from friends that had no idea that I had IPL done.
Q. It’s been three years since your skin rejuvenation journey. Are you keeping up with the treatments?
I still get compliments about my skin. But even though I wear an SPF year round, I can see my complexion dulling and a few new spots appearing. It was recommended that I make this an annual treatment or after any sort of tropical holiday. Admittedly I have slacked in this area and now can see that I need to get on this!
Q. What skin care advice would you give to your daughters?
Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. Also as they get older I will tell them that tanning beds are not where its at. You always here about getting a base tan because someone is going away to a tropical location. Skin damage is skin damage, whether its a tan or a burn. My dermatologist knew right away by looking at my skin that I had been to tanning beds in the past because of some of the moles I had, they are characteristic of going to tanning beds. I know people who never burn and only tan and have been diagnosed with melanoma. Don’t kid yourself thinking your safe with a tan! Your skin will thank you later!
A series of treatments done every 3-4 weeks yields the best results. In addition to sun induced damage, IPL technology can also treat rosacea and spider veins.