COVID-19 UPDATE: As of May 11, 2020, we have re-opened our office to regular in-person appointments. We are operating at a lower-than-normal capacity in order to respect social distancing advisories and best protect the health of our patients. We are still offering telemedicine as an option. For more information please call us at (314) 996-8800.

intense pulsed light (ipl)

Treat a Range of Cosmetic Skin Conditions in St. Louis

West County Plastic Surgeons offers IPL (intense pulsed light) treatments for St. Louis residents who are searching for a safe, efficient solution to a wide variety of skin disorders, including rosacea, discolored scars, uneven facial pigmentation, and numerous vascular lesions.

Intense pulsed light therapy works by delivering filtered high-energy light to its target area. Some laser and light-based treatments are "ablative," which means they remove the surface layers of the skin. IPL is "nonablative," so it keeps the surface of the skin intact, working instead to create beneficial changes from the inside out. The broad spectrum of light emitted in intense pulses from the IPL device is absorbed by darker-pigmented cells. As these cells absorb the energy, they heat up to the point that they are damaged. When this happens to lesions on the surface of the skin, they flake away, leaving clearer skin behind. Vessels below the surface that cause visible redness collapse and are absorbed back into the body.

IPL Sideview Before and After
3/4 View Before and After
This female received an Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment at West County Plastic Surgeons in St. Louis, MO. Before and after photos are taken 8 weeks apart. (*Real patient. Individual patient results vary.)

Before-and-after photos of facelift results: Click here 

To schedule your consultation for intense pulsed light (IPL), contact our St. Louis office by phoning (314) 996-8800 or requesting your consultation online.

What to Expect from IPL

For IPL, West County Plastic Surgeons of Washington University uses the ICON system by Cynosure®, a trusted maker of medical devices. The ICON IPL system is versatile, able to treat a range of cosmetic issues, including wrinkles, thin and visible veins, general redness, other pigmentation irregularities, certain scars, and more.

The IPL session itself is typically brief, lasting no longer than a lunch break. You will first have a cooling gel applied to the treatment area, followed by the application of the IPL device itself. The name of the treatment has the word "intense" in it, but patients typically report that the sensations they experience are no stronger than a slight sting, similar to the feel of someone snapping a rubber band against their skin.

For optimal IPL results, some patients may require more than one treatment, but the session details—including number of treatments necessary—depend on the specifics of the condition and the patient.

After each IPL treatment, you can expect your skin to feel sensitive and appear red, as if you spent a little too long in the sun. Whereas a sunburn damages the skin, however, IPL improves it. The redness will soon fade on its own, with the expected results gradually appearing in the following days and the look of the skin continuing to improve in the succeeding weeks. This is because the heat energy delivered by IPL can also trigger fresh collagen production, which leads to smoother, less-wrinkled, younger-looking skin.

Phototherapy Following Breast Cancer Reconstruction

Breast cancer therapy and breast reconstruction can lead to scarring and skin changes. Lasers and/or intense pulsed light can be used to at least improve some of these changes. For example:

  • Dark blood vessels in scars and in fields treated with radiation. Radiation can cause telangiectasias or abnormal-appearing vascular lesions on the skin. These areas can often be improved by treating with a 1064 nm Nd:YAG long-pulsed laser. Several treatments are often required to optimize the result.
  • Red and vascular scars. As an example, chemotherapy port scars are often placed in the upper outer chest—an area that is susceptible to forming wide and red scars. These can be treated with IPL using a 595 nm filter that targets red pigmentation. Several treatments are often required to optimize the result.
Dr. Terry Myckatyn, MD and Dr. Marissa Tenenbaum, MD

Dr. Terry Myckatyn and
Dr. Marissa Tenenbaum:

Trusted. Experienced. Committed.

Anesthesia: None.

Length of procedure: 15 to 30 minutes

Estimated recovery time: 1 to 3 days

Treatments to Complement IPL


Aging skin can grow lax, leading to sagging on the face, chest, and elsewhere. Ultherapy®, like IPL, is a non-invasive treatment, though this one uses ultrasound energy to trigger change. Carefully administered ultrasound waves stimulate production of collagen and more to tighten away laxity and create a lifted, more youthful look.

Laser Hair Removal

The single wavelength of laser treatments is ideal for targeting the pigmented cells in follicles that produce unwanted hairs, such as those under the arms or in the bikini line. Laser hair removal works by shutting the follicles down with heat, leading to long-term results. Skin stays clear without the need for a razor or plucking.

Laser Vein Treatment

IPL works well on tiny vessels that cause redness, but distinct visible vessels may require focused laser vein treatment. This option can be applied to spider veins that form on the face, legs, or elsewhere. Even larger vessels, such as varicose veins, are typically treated with sclerotherapy (the injection of an agent that collapses them) or radiofrequency energy.


Known as collagen induction therapy, microneedling is another option for anyone looking to get smoother, clearer skin. This treatment creates numerous tiny channels, each of which represents a miniscule wound that natural processes fix without creating scar tissue. The repair work extends into the surrounding tissue, cleaning up signs of aging and environmental damage along the way. The result is a fresher, more rejuvenated look.

Collagen induction

"Collagen induction" involves removing a small amount of your blood, processing it to concentrate its healing platelets, and injecting the resulting plasma back into your body—specifically, where rejuvenation is desired. The platelets get to work repairing sun damage and more, making this treatment an excellent way to enhance the results of other skin-focused procedures.

Before & After

Visit our Photo Gallery to see our patient results.

*Results may vary.

View Patient Results

If you have questions or would like to book a consultation with one of the surgeons at West County Plastic Surgery, please call (314) 996-8800.

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