What Is Intense Pulsed Light Therapy?
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Intense Pulsed Light Therapy

Published on Dec 28, 2022 and last reviewed on Jul 05, 2023   -  4 min read


Intense pulse light therapy is a cosmetic treatment used by the health care provider to remove pigmentation and hair and repair skin damaged by sun exposure.


Intense pulsed light therapy is also called Xenon flash lamp therapy. Tures is a non-surgical and non-invasive cosmetic treatment for aesthetic and therapeutic purposes. The device emits wavelengths filtered to a specific wavelength for use; the wavelength is 400-600nm. This treatment can be used on dry, oily, and sensitive skin.

How Does Intense Pulsed Light Therapy Act?

Intense pulse light therapy uses light of varying wavelengths that can be altered with the duration of light while treating; the wavelength should be continuously changed from low to high intensity with the duration of time in order to prevent burning due to overheating. The gap between the two wavelength intensities allows the surrounding tissue to cool down. The high wavelength acts on deeper tissue like cysts and glands, while the low wavelength acts on superficial tissues; intermittent wavelength will allow time for cooling. If the first wavelength used is 250 nm, then the second wavelength used is 25nm, giving duration for deeper tissues to cool. The procedure may require at least five to six sittings depending upon the need; some side effects are seen post-procedure showing redness and blistering for a few hours, so to prevent the after-effects ice pack should be applied for cooling.

The light is effective against the removal of hair by using monochromatic coherent laser light. This penetrates through the skin to the hair follicle, which is usually presented near the higher level of melanin pigment concentration; the light destroys the hair follicle papilla preventing further hair growth; this intense light only acts on the active hair follicle; the light is not effective ob inactive hair follicles. The treatment may require eight to ten sittings of the procedure with a gap of three to four weeks for better and more effective results.

What Are the Uses of Intense Pulsed Light Therapy?

Intense pulsed light therapy has multiple uses for treating aging skin, hair removal, vascular lesion, and dry eyes, and it is helpful in the treatment of removing acne as the light is absorbed by the sebaceous gland that produces sebum, a natural oil produced by the skin to destroy bacteria and inflammatory cells present in the skin causing lesions.

It helps to remove the pigmentation on the skin like stretch marks, age spots, inflammatory hyperpigmentation due to burn or post-inflammation marks, freckles, blemishes, scar marks, acne spots, and melasma by decreasing the production of melanin pigment that is responsible for pigmentation of the skin.

It is also helpful in removing hair from hands, legs, underarms, chest, bikini area, and unwanted hair on the face. The light passed on the hair follicle, causing hair loss and preventing further growth of hair. Intense pulse light therapy is also helpful in rejuvenating the color and texture of the skin and removing dead cells present in the skin. It is also helpful in repairing the damage done due to over-exposure to the sun, also called photoaging, by increasing the production of collagen, procollagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid, which are helpful in new growth, repairing, and remodeling of cells that will improve skin texture and skin tone also delay the process of aging.

It can be used in blood vessel lesions that cause discoloration of the skin; the intense light helps by destroying the pigment without harming the superficial layer of the skin. Vascular lesions like a birthmark, spider vein, port-wine stain, or broken vein can be treated.

It is also used in the treatment of dry eyes; the light is passed around the eyes to the meibomian gland, the gland that lubricates the eyes by producing oil and tears. The intense light breaks down the blockage or any build-up of debris on the gland and also reduces inflammation caused due to bacterial growth.

What Is the Disadvantage of Intense Pulsed Light Therapy?

This light can harm darker skin if not taken care of in adjusting the wavelength of light; the higher wavelength of light can absorb melanin pigment without epidermal cooling, which can cause burning of the skin. One who is planning for the treatment should avoid exposure to the sun, as tanned skin is more prone to burning from this intense artificial light. Tanned skin can absorb more intense pulse light and can cause burning of the skin. If one is undergoing therapy, they should avoid tanning products.

This procedure is contraindicated in pregnant, breastfeeding mothers, people who have skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, or dermatitis, who have a history of skin cancer, also using tanning products and retinoid products can cause damage to the skin, also not indicated in those who have severe scars, and who are sensitive to light.

After the procedure, it may show some side effects like redness, swelling, bleeding, and blisters; the skin may become scaly and show pigmentation spots, and in some, there may be pain. In addition, the treatment may be expensive, time-consuming, and require multiple sittings; one has to offer patience for the effective result to be visible.

What Precautions Should Be Taken Pre and Post-procedure?

Avoid direct exposure to the sun before and after treatment, as it may cause skin burning. Apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor above 30 when at home to prevent ultraviolet radiation. Avoid makeup for some days as it may irritate the skin. Always moisturize skin with less harsh moisturizer and stay hydrated to maintain the body's cooling.

This procedure does not give permanent results, so avoid overdoing it. It can be harmful; consult with the health care provider and consider any other alternative treatment if it is unsuitable for anyone. There are many alternative treatments like chemical peeling. Laser resurfacing, micro derma roller, microdermabrasion to remove hair, and skin waxing are also good alternatives for removing hair.


Intense pulse light therapy is a good option for removing the pigmentation on the skin and removing hair and for repairing skin from sun exposure; it is an effective treatment with multiple benefits and some drawbacks. A certified healthcare provider should always take therapy to prevent mishaps.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Does Intense Pulsed Light Therapy Do?

By producing high-intensity light pulses that are absorbed by melanin or hemoglobin, IPL therapy has been utilized to treat various skin disorders, leading to the slow fading and eventual disappearance of pigmented lesions or blood vessels.


Does IPL Have Side Effects?

IPL therapy, like any cosmetic procedure, carries the risk of transitory side effects, including redness, swelling, itching, and moderate pain. These adverse effects, however, are often moderate and short-lived.


Does the IPL Work?

IPL therapy's efficacy can range from patient to patient and condition to condition. It is crucial to speak with a trained specialist to evaluate if IPL is the best treatment choice, even though many people have claimed great results in reducing the appearance of sun damage, age spots, and other specific ailments.


Is IPL Treatment Safe?

When administered by a qualified medical professional, IPL therapy is widely accepted as safe. However, the risk of problems can be reduced by following the prescribed instructions and precautions and disclosing any relevant medical history or skin diseases.


Are IPL Results Permanent?

In most cases, IPL treatment does not produce long-lasting benefits. As new sun damage or pigmentation disorders may emerge, it may be necessary to undergo periodic touch-up procedures to preserve the results. To extend the benefits of IPL treatment, it is essential to take sun protection measures and stick to a regular skincare routine.


Is IPL Good or Bad for Skin?

Individual response to IPL therapy for skin conditions varies. Some people may observe improvements in their skin's texture, pigmentation, and overall complexion, while others will see no changes at all or even have unfavorable effects. 


Is IPL Good for The Skin?

The effectiveness of IPL therapy can range from individual to individual and from condition to condition. The look of sun damage, age spots, and vascular lesions has been claimed to be much improved by IPL.


What Is the Success Rate of IPL?

If administered by a qualified medical professional, pulsed light therapies like IPL pose no risk to the patient. However, IPL therapy is inappropriate for people with active infections, open wounds, or a history of keloid formation, and there is always the chance of potential side effects. 


How Long Does IPL Treatment Last?

Depending on the treatment region, an IPL session may last a few minutes to an hour or more. The average treatment session lasts between 15 and 45 minutes, but this time can increase if more than one location is being treated or pre-treatment measures are taken.


How Many Sessions of IPL Is Needed?

Treatment with IPL may require more than one session, depending on the severity of the skin disease, the patient's response, and the intended outcome. Doctors usually advise patients to undergo three to six treatments at weekly intervals to get the best outcomes.


Is IPL Treatment Painful?

Pain or discomfort is usually minimal during IPL treatment. Most patients, however, report feeling no more than a rubber band snap or a warm sensation on the skin during treatment. Numbing creams or cooling techniques can alleviate the discomfort, and the pain is usually manageable and short-lived.


Is It Okay to Use IPL Every Day?

Using IPL daily is not suggested. Sessions should be spaced out by a few weeks to give the skin time to repair and renew itself in between. It is vital to adhere to the prescribed treatment plan supplied by a trained practitioner when using IPL to avoid irritating or damaging the skin.


Who Should Avoid IPL?

Unfortunately, IPL therapy is not suitable for everyone. Pregnant women, persons with active infections or skin conditions, those with a history of keloid formation, people with excessively sunburned or tanned skin, and people taking specific medications that promote photosensitivity all fall into this category. 


Does IPL Make Skin Look Younger?

IPL treatment can improve skin texture and boost collagen formation, contributing to a more youthful appearance. It can make sun damage, age spots, and other pigmentation problems less noticeable, giving the skin a more youthful and healthy appearance. It is vital to remember that IPL is not a guarantee for reversing all signs of aging and that individual outcomes may vary.


Can IPL Cause More Hair Growth?

There is no evidence that IPL therapy stimulates hair growth. It is commonly used as a hair removal technique to eliminate unwelcome hair by destroying the hair follicles. It is worth noting that IPL's efficacy for hair removal varies according to factors, including hair color and skin type.

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Last reviewed at:
05 Jul 2023  -  4 min read




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