I've been comparing notes (by email, so we're taking each other on trust) with a friend of a friend about our  treatments. In the last week she had (after much deliberation) IPL (intense pulsed light therapy). At about the same time, I had LED (light emitting diode). If you've been checking in to Truth In Aging this week, you'll have seen that I've been knocked out by the LED experience and results. I keep checking myself out in mirrors and doing a pleasantly surprised little double-take.

Before I relate the IPL experience, a quick reprise of what it is. A computer-regulated light pulse heats a portion of the skin. This removes the unwanted tissue while it spares or avoids the surrounding healthy or "normal" tissue. This is because both long and short wavelengths of light can be delivered allowing better targeting than a traditional laser. The LED is rather different; it doesn't remove tissue, but stimulates the cells and is, therefore, non-invasive.

My friend's friend said the actual IPL treatment wasn't a big deal at all. She was given a numbing cream to minimize any pain, she didn't puff up or get super red and she felt she looked completely normal the next day. When I checked in with her yesterday evening, she said she hadn't really noticed any results at all. Her 'brown spots' got slightly darker, she started noticing spots she didn't know she had and they have remained so far. Of course, this might be because she is scrutinizing herself more intently than usual. However, another friend who had IPL told me that her brown spots became very dark after IPL and then  did fade.

My own dark spots looked darker after my LED treatment, but now I think they are lighter. However, I've also started (thanks to Bethany's tip) using Super Cop 2X on my dark spots and I am pretty sure that is having an effect too.

It should be pointed out that my friend's friend doesn't have much sun damage. She opted to try the IPL because she wanted to improve the overall look and texture of her skin. By which she means smooth out blotchiness, enlarged pores and fine lines. She doesn't think the treatment has had any effect so far on any of these. Her dermatologist said she may need another treatment in the fall. Some dermos say three or four treatments are needed.

I really do think my LED has made me look smoother, firmer and a tiny bit less lined. And this in a week when I have been working really hard, playing hard, traveled across the country for a meeting and took a red-eye flight.

Oh and if you were in any doubt that I have a little mean streak, I am going to rub it in by comparing prices. The IPL cost $700 and the LED cost around $150 (Ildi has slightly different price points depending on whether you have - as I do - other treatments such as microcurrent). We are both in Manhattan.