Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
What is Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is a non-invasive, non-laser treatment which uses a broad spectrum of extremely high-intensity pulses of visible light in order to address a variety of skin conditions. These pulses of visible light target chromophores (cells that absorb light) within our skin.
How does IPL work?
IPL works through similar principles to how lasers work. Light energy from the IPL device is absorbed by target cells of the skin, which is then converted into heat energy and controlled damage to the target cells is caused. IPL delivers many “colors” of light as opposed to one wavelength, and filters are used to enhance the penetrative abilities of the light waves while targeting specific cells of the skin.
What can IPL be used to treat?
There are a large variety of medical uses and applications for IPL, including:
- Pigmentation issues
- Stimulate collagen remodeling
- Hair removal
- Reduce fine lines
- Skin tightening
- Treatment of vascular problems like rosacea
How are IPL treatments usually performed?
This may vary based on what end result is desired, but generally a cooling gel will be applied onto your exposed skin prior to the treatment. If the target area is near your face, your eyes will be covered by an eye shield in order to prevent damage to your eyes. The doctor will then use the IPL handpiece and press it lightly against the target areas.
You will not feel any pain during this procedure and only a mild, rubber-band like snapping sensation is said to be felt. This is well tolerated by most patients during treatment.
This entire treatment takes around 10-15 minutes to complete, depending on the size of the target area.
How many treatments of IPL are needed?
This number may vary based on the desired end result, be it hair removal or pigmentation removal, as well as the condition of the patient prior to treatment. In general, multiple sessions (6-8) of IPL are recommended over several months in order for optimal results. Treatments are usually spaced out at least one month apart in order to let the skin recover before following treatments are done.
Are there any side effects? What is the downtime like?
There are no side effects associated with IPL treatments and IPL treatments are generally considered to be very safe.
Patients may experience some mild redness or stinging near the target areas of the treatment. When used to treat skin pigmentation, the pigmentation might appear to be slightly darker immediately post treatment, but these will naturally lighten when given enough time. It is important to follow the doctor’s orders for aftercare in terms of applying sunblock in order to maintain good results post treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
let us clear your doubts!
Lasers are only one color (monochromatic) and only emit a single wavelength of light. IPL uses a broad spectrum (polychromatic) of light which spans multiple wavelengths.
In that sense, lasers are more targeted than IPL treatments. However, this means that IPL has the advantage of being able to have multiple functions, while lasers tend to have only 1 main function or target area per wavelength.
Both IPL and lasers are effective techniques for hair removal. In general, you will require more IPL treatments as compared to laser treatments if your goal is permanent hair removal. However, it is important to take note that IPL has a wide variety of purposes such as skin rejuvenation, not simply just hair removal.