What is Intense Pulsed Light Therapy and is it effective?

What exactly is Intense Pulsed Light Therapy. I think most just call it IPL? Not to joke here, but it sounds “intense” and a bit intimidating! Can someone explain it to me in terms that I will understand, and also explain what it helps do.


F, 46, Virginia

Tags:woman age 35-44 effective

Intense pulsed light or IPL is what you get when, instead of using light of a single wavelength as in a laser, you use light with a very narrow band width. Examples are green  and yellow lights. The light is administered in very brief, very  powerful pulses and can burn, just like a laser, but not to the same degree. I have not found it effective for wrinkles. Green light is used for red areas, such as blood vessels and the red blush of rosacea. Yellow light is used for brown spots like freckles, sun spots, and hair removal. I have had poor success with blood vessels and rosacea as these usually come back and repeated treatments are needed. I have had the same problem with brown spots. They may respond well but gradually recur so IPL is not a permanent solution. The treatment can be tedious if large areas are done, as the light has to recycle between pulses, limiting the speed of a treatment. The representatives of the devices claim it is only minimally uncomfortable. I beg to differ. Few patients tolerate other than a very small area without some anesthesia. I have tried topical creams- lidoderm, Emla, and others, and have yet to find one that is consistently effective. I tried IPL on my own neck to remove beard hair, as I tired of a lifetime of shaving. I did this once, with topical anesthesia, and it was almost unbearably painful. My nurse had to stop repeatedly while I steeled myself for the next round of "hits". It  did work, and I have less hair on my neck than I used to, but I can't bring myself to do the 4-5 sessions required for hair removal so I guess I'll just keep shaving. As you may surmise, I am not a fan of IPL. It does not require the expertise of a real plastic surgeon so I will leave to the "cosmetic" types out there to invest in the equipment and provide this. Anyone want buy a slightly used IPL machine?

Richard Bosshardt has 1 IPL Photofacials before & after:

IPL Photofacials before image performed by Dr. Richard BosshardtIPL Photofacials after image performed by Dr. Richard Bosshardt

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Intense pulsed light is a Treatment that uses specific flash of light  to treat specific problems with your skin. For example: dark spots, red spots, spider veins, Rosacea, and even some forms of sun damaged or aging skin. Depending on your specific skin type and problem, a specific light wavelength is used. No anesthesia is used and the treatment  feels like a rubber band hitting your skin.Treatments take a few minutes and there is little to no down time.