Ever since I was a child I’ve always had a bright red face as you may or may not know that I have rosacea. Now it’s not something that many people like to talk about thanks to those awful insecurities we keep hidden away beneath our makeup and clothes for fear of what others might think of us if only they knew. Well I believe that sharing a condition, problem or experience helps to shed light on a subject, it allows people silently going through the same thing to know that they’re not alone and also alerts medical professionals to the demand and need to provide a cure or treatment for a condition. So seeing as I’m having IPL laser treatment for my rosacea at the Pulse Light Clinic in London I thought I may as well share my experience of it with you.
Now my rosacea may not look that bad in this picture with a few red veins gathering at the surface of my nose and cheeks and quite rightly there are far more important health conditions and ailments to worry about in this world, but this is something that causes me daily distress that would bring me a great relief to reduce it and whilst some may choose to live with it progressively getting worse I wish to do something about it. This is my resting redness in the picture on the left which is a constant minimum amount of red colour to my skin that never goes and this is literally the best that it will look. I also have a flare up redness which you can see to my cheek in the picture where my makeup is being removed and this is where my entire face glows bright red like a beacon and I’m helpless to do anything to stop it.
My face can flare red for many different reasons, when I was younger it felt like my face had set on fire whenever I blushed, was nervous or walked from a cold room into the warmth; it happened whilst passing under the door heaters of shops, if I wore certain perfumes, used cosmetics and makeup, took a shower, ate anything remotely spicy or drank alcohol and taking exercise basically makes me look like I’ve been slapped a few thousand times around the face by a kipper. Not only is the bright red colour to my face embarrassing but it’s more importantly uncomfortable and sore; my skin constantly feels hot and dry like sunburn, my makeup cakes and cracks into it and I have wide pores on my nose which love to clog and look awful. I feel as though I constantly want to put my face into cold water to quench the skin and my dry cheeks are at war with my greasy nose and spot-prone chin all because of this condition.
Naturally having rosacea also has also had a great impact on my self confidence because it’s a condition that effects how you see yourself and how others perceive you. Because of my rosacea I was very shy growing up, I rarely made eye-contact with people and I always kept my face down to the floor and sat in the corner rather than joining in. I didn’t want people to see me because I didn’t like how I looked and I was bullied badly because of it. I don’t want to be the only person in the room who is glowing, burning and marred by yet another outbreak of spots approaching the age of thirty so it’s about time that I do something about it and so this is why I’m seeking a permanent treatment.
Of course I’ve been to my doctor many times over the years, I’ve tried all sorts of lotions and potions, creams and avoiding the things that make me flare up wherever possible but these are only temporary measures that mask it for a short amount of time but do not cure my condition, they don’t rid me of my redness but just keep it to its natural resting redness which I’m still very unhappy with. I can hide it pretty well with my foundation but in wearing makeup my skin feels hot and dry and I’d much rather be able to leave it bare and let it breath and stay moisturised which I simply can’t do when I’m covered up with makeup. So I’m hoping to remove the red veins from my face that are causing the problem with the IPL laser treatment.
The Pulse Light Clinic has over 15 years experience in Rosacea treatments, based in London it is hailed as one of the most experienced rosacea clinics in the UK; boasting of their clients rosacea going into remission thanks to their ability to recognise the triggers that cause flushing, implement nutritional changes to diet and their use of the most advanced cutting edge laser equipment on the market. So I have booked in for my consultation and will be attending the clinic in just three days time to have my skin test to determine whether this procedure is suitable for me. I’m literally counting down the minutes until I go and it’s something that has really given me hope after I’ve spent the past 28yrs disliking my red face.
UPDATE: My Consultation
Arriving at the Pulse Light Clinic in London at the second floor of a glass fronted building on Fenchurch Street, just a short walk from Bank underground station, I was greeted by a fresh white reception area and smiling receptionist. I took a seat beside some ferns on the white cubes dotted amongst flowers and soft music to complete my paperwork which involved detailing my general health and any medications on a clipboard for which I’m fine and have no complications. Despite the clinic being ridiculously busy, I guess London is like that being the capital and all, my appointment ran on time and I was called in to see the laser practitioner Sheila in a bright and airy treatment room.
Sheila explained that a skin test must first be performed on a small area of my face to test how my skin will react to the laser and also determine the level of treatment that I can handle as the light waves work at many different levels and strengths from the surface all the way down to the deeper tissue below. She informed me that my face produces vessels which rise up to the surface and display as redness and to treat this the light shrinks the vessels and the face drains them away starting from the cheeks and working inwards towards the nose as a large vein runs from the forehead down to the chin and this is where the redness typically stems from; the majority of my redness is indeed around my nose and out across my cheeks. She said that I would notice my redness disappearing from the outside inwards with my nose being the final part to clear for this reason. I will need around 6-8 treatments each three weeks apart and as I age and my body changes I may want to come back for a top up treatment a couple of times a year in future to catch any new veins that have come up to the surface should I wish to keep my skin clear.
She also advised that drinking alcohol and eating spicy food is a leading cause of flare ups for which I only drink on special occasions anyway but I do love a good curry, and stress and tiredness can also make it worse; as a single parent to my two young children I don’t really get much say on the sleeping front as I’m up as often and as early as my little darlings decide, but I do try to get into bed as soon as possible and I make sure that I drink plenty of water to keep myself hydrated as well as washing my face with just water each evening rather than irritating scrubs or masks because of my sensitive skin.
The skin test itself was very quick and easy, I was invited to lay on the bed, my makeup wiped away, lead-lined eye shields put over my eyes and a cool gel applied to my skin. The laser is a small handheld device much like a travel kettle only it shoots light instead of steam, the light is shot away from the skin and feels slightly warm but not hot, it’s a bit like laying down and sunbathing with your eyes closed, I felt warm and relaxed and beautifully refreshed afterwards. Sheila tested a handful of shots of light on the top of my cheek which made it a little pink but it wasn’t sore or uncomfortable and I only felt a gentle warmth, I could however see the light through my eyelids that were closed with my eye shields on. The light isn’t dangerous just very powerful and the flash from each shot made me blink just as I would with a camera. As my face didn’t react or hurt I am thrilled to know that I am suitable for treatment so I now have three weeks until my first session and I’m incredibly excited.
My First Treatment
Today I visited the Pulse Light Clinic to see Sheila for my first full treatment and my appointment lasted just over half an hour. Sheila did the exact same procedure as my skin test but instead of doing just one area she covered my entire face, cheeks, nose, chin and forehead too. She used a variety of different attachments for the laser to penetrate the light to different depths into the layers of the skin and at different intensities. With my eyes closed I didn’t see anything going on but enjoyed the soothing cool gel and warm light and very nearly fell asleep.
It’s not often that I get to sit down, stop and relax as I’m usually running around after my two young children so it was quite a treat to take some time out and do something to improve my confidence without pain or downtime for healing. After my treatment was complete Sheila wiped my face clean of the gel and I could apply my makeup immediately to return home. I can have a treatment once every three weeks to complete my course but as it’s now Christmas coming up the soonest I can get in is January so it’s several weeks until my second treatment but I don’t mind waiting because this month is hectic for me too.
UPDATE: 09/01/16 Treatment 2
Today I had my second rosacea treatment and it was just as relaxing and peaceful as my first. The laser was used on a higher setting this time which made it feel a little warmer than before but not hot. The above photos were taken seconds before my second lasering treatment began and shows the progress of my first treatment. I’ve found that the intensity of the redness has lessened in my cheeks which may not seem drastic at first glance but has made a huge difference when I apply my makeup. Rather than being a deep red flushing my face is now a rose peach so the colour is weakening and is easier to cover with foundation as it drains away from my face.
I’m extremely pleased with my progress so far and it’s reassuring to know that my results will continue to improve over the next few weeks until my third treatment. I can’t wait to show you before and after photos when I reach my 6th!
UPDATE: 22/02/16 Treatment 3
Today I had my third rosacea treatment and these photos were taken just before my treatment to show the progress of treatment 2. I’ve noticed a big difference in the last few weeks as the redness is disappearing from the lower edges of my cheeks and as a result I only have to apply foundation to my nose and under eyes instead of my entire face which makes my skin feel so much fresher and less spot prone. It’s fascinating to see the colour creep away and it’s something that I’ve waited such a long time to achieve.
This time the laser was used on a shallow setting which targeted the surface of the skin instead of the below, as a result it felt hotter than before because it hit the redness directly rather than penetrating down to the lower levels. It wasn’t painful but it made me jump a little because it felt like I had my face directly next to a hot radiator for a split second at a time when the light hit my skin and as I couldn’t see anything I didn’t know when to expect it. My complexion is looking much more even rather than red and patchy and I’m very much looking forward to going bare face later on in the year!
UPDATE: 04/04/16 Treatment 4
Today’s treatment was a little warmer than before and it made me blink and jump with each flash of the light. I also had an iced towel applied to my face for several minutes after to allow my skin to cool down, although it didn’t feel hot to the touch it just looked a little red directly after treatment but soon returned to normal. The redness is a good thing during treatment as it shows that the light is working and reaching the areas intended and as you can see from my photos the natural redness to my cheeks and nose if fading from a dark red to a soft rose colour which is incredible to see.
I’ve found that I don’t need as much makeup as I’d usually wear as my skin is becoming clearer so I no longer need a concealer to cover the dark red areas and a simple flick of foundation provides a light and even coverage without betraying my rosacea. I’m just over half way through my treatment and am thrilled that the harshness has been taken from my face, now it’s the final few treatments to chase the redness into the veins and away from my nose. I literally can’t stop smiling right now, it’s made the biggest difference to my confidence! I’m so happy!
UPDATE: 06/06/16 Treatment 5
So after todays session I’m really noticing the difference to the veins on my nose as the redness is chasing away to the final part of the face which is where the main vein runs from the forehead towards the body. For my entire life I have had a mass of red veins around my nostrils but for the first time ever they are disappearing and instead they are much lighter and less wide. So now have one large dark vein which you can see in the left photo above, situated on the right hand side of my face this indicates the main vein that was supplying the others.
Remember to check back soon to see how my treatment is getting on!
Pulse Light Clinic, 1st floor 150-152 Fenchurch St
London EC3M 6BB
0207 523 5158