How is IPL different from Laser Treatment?
IPL is similar to a laser treatment in that they are both photo therapies. However, a laser focuses just one wavelength of light at your skin, while IPL releases light of many different wavelengths in a more scattered manner. IPL penetrates down to the second layer of your skin called the dermis without harming the top layer called the epidermis.
Who Shouldn’t Get IPL Treatment?
- Are sensitive to light
- Have recently tanned your skin using sunlight, tanning beds, or tanning creams
- Might have skin cancer
- Use a retinoid cream
- Are very dark-skinned
- Have severe scarring
- Prone to keloid scars
Pigment cells in your skin absorb the light energy, which is converted into heat. The heat destroys the unwanted pigment to clear up freckles and other spots. Or, it destroys the hair follicle to prevent the hair from growing again.
You can use IPL anywhere on your body, but it may not work as well on uneven areas. It isn’t recommended for people who tend to get thick, raised keloid scars or who have darker skin tones. It’s also not as effective on light-colored hair as it is on darker hair.
What to Expect During IPL Treatment
Before the procedure, avoid
- Tan in the sun, in a tanning bed, or with tanning creams for 4 weeks before you go
- Wax, or get a chemical peel or collagen shots for 2 weeks before
- Wear perfume, makeup, deodorant, or any skin irritants
- Take aspirin or another drug that can make you bleed more
- Take any medication that will make you sun-sensitive such as doxycycline
The treatment sessions generally last 20 or 30 minutes, larger areas may take longer.
While most people are fine with the light pulses, the treatment could sting a little. It might feel like someone is snapping a rubber band on you. A topical anesthetic cream may be applied before treatment to help numb the area.
What Recovery From IPL Treatment Looks Like
It may feel like you have a sunburn for 4-6 hours after you’re finished. Ice packs or a cool washcloth can help you feel better.
Your skin may be red or bruised for a day or two. Some of your brown spots may get darker, but they should peel off within a few weeks.
While you heal:
- Avoid applying makeup if your skin is sensitive
- Use moisturizing lotion.
- Protect yourself with sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and reapply it every 2 hours, even if it’s not sunny outside.
- Wash your face with mild cleanser
Your doctor or aesthetician can tell you when it’s safe to return to your normal skin care routine. It might take a week.
Most people get between three and seven sessions, depending on the condition you’re treating. It is recommended to allow 2-4 weeks between each treatment sessions and it may take several weeks notice results in your skin.