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Intense Pulse Light

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)


Intense pulsed light (IPL) is a non-invasive and non-ablative treatment. In fact, it uses high-intensity pulses of visible light to improve skin appearance. It treats various skin issues like: 

  • Mild to Moderate Acne Scars
  • Hyperpigmentation (brown spots)
  • Wrinkles
  • Large, visible pores
  • Melasma
  • Excessive flushing
  • Freckles
  • Age and sunspots
  • Broken capillaries
  • Spider veins
  • Stretch marks
  • Hair removal 

IPL systems work on the same principles as lasers. The procedure uses light energy to target particular cells with colour in the skin. Then, this light energy is converted to heat energy.  As a result, this causes damage to the specific target area. In fact, the main advantage of IPL is that it delivers many wavelengths or colours in each pulse of light as against just one wavelength. 

Various filters are used to rule out lower wavelengths, especially potentially damaging ultraviolet light. This enables better and more precise absorption without the use of excessive energy levels.

As mentioned earlier, IPL therapy is a non-ablative resurfacing technique. This means that it targets the lower layers of skin or the dermis. It does not affect the top layers of skin or the epidermis.  For the same reason, the results of this treatment are not as aggressive as ablative therapies. Moreover, you may need several sessions to get the desired results. However, the main disadvantage of this treatment is that it may not work well with dark skin and light hair. 

However, recovery time for IPL therapy is much lesser than ablative therapy. In fact, it is an office-hour procedure. This means patients can undergo this procedure and continue with their day-to-day activities. 

There are various Individual machines for IPL therapy. Each of them focuses on specific skin problems. All of them may not be equally effective.

There are certain individuals who should not undergo this treatment. For instance: 

  • Pregnant women 
  • People sensitive to light
  • Individuals who have recently tanned the skin in sunlight or with tanning beds/tanning creams
  • Skin cancer
  • Those using retinoids
  • Individuals with a dark skin complexion 


  • Prior to the IPL procedure, the dermatologist will examine your skin and let you know what to expect. 
  • He will let you know of the potential side effects of the treatment. 
  • It is important to let them of any skin conditions that you may have. 
  • You should avoid certain things before the surgery such as:  
  1. Direct sunlight 
  2. Tanning beds 
  3. Chemical peels 
  4. Waxing 
  5. Medicines like aspirin and ibuprofen 
  6. Creams containing Vitamin A or Retinoids 
  7. Perfumes, deodorants or any potential irritants
  8. Collagen injections 

How does the procedure work? 

  • Dermatologists may apply a  topical anaesthetic to the treatment. 
  • Then, they apply a cold gel to the treatment as IPL devices usually have an integrated cooling system. 
  • After that, precise pulses of light are directed to the treatment area. 
  • One session usually lasts for about 20 minutes. 
  • Patients may require about 4-6 sessions every 3-6 weeks. 
  • Since it is an office-hour procedure, patients may resume work after the procedure. 


The procedure will take time to show results. Usually, results start to show only a few weeks after the surgery. However, patients may feel certain side effects after the surgery which are normal. 

  • Redness in the treatment area 
  • Mild stinging or burning. 
  • Mild swelling in the treatment area
  • Rarely, but blistering can occur 
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation seen in some patients. 
  • Some patients may face bruising 

Post-procedure care 

  • Avoid using makeup or any cream on the treated area for at least 24 hours post the procedure or until the redness and stinging have dissipated. 
  • Use lotion to the treated area twice daily for the duration of the treatments and for at least three months after the treatment ends. 

While this procedure is very straight-forward, it is important that well-trained personnel or dermatologists only perform it.

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