What to Expect from Your Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Treatment

Intense pulsed light (IPL) is a cosmetic treatment that reduces signs of aging and improves the appearance of your skin. An IPL treatment is similar to a laser treatment like the Clear + Brilliant Laser, but it delivers multiple wavelengths instead of the single wavelengths delivered by laser. Read on to learn more about IPL and how it can benefit your skin!

How does IPL work?

IPL works by emitting a high-intensity light that penetrates the skin and is absorbed mostly in the upper layers of the skin. Light generated heat breaks apart unwanted pigment and eliminates undesired redness and fine blood vessels.

What is it used for?

An IPL treatment is a great solution to a number of skin concerns, including age spots, brown spots, sun damage, freckles, rosacea, fine blood vessels, facial redness, and unwanted hair. It can also be used as a “photofacial” to stimulate collagen production and subtly smooth fine lines and wrinkles for a rejuvenated appearance.

What should you expect during IPL treatment?

Prior to the IPL treatment, you will thoroughly wash your skin to remove any dirt or makeup, and photos will be taken for your chart. Then, your skin will be cleansed and a topical gel will be applied to help ensure you are comfortable. Protective eyewear must be worn during treatment to protect your eyes form the light.

Your technician will then apply light pulses to the treatment area. While this process should not be painful, it may feel similar to a rubber band snapping against the skin. Treatment usually takes 15-30 minutes to complete.

How effective is IPL?

The results of IPL treatments vary from person to person, but studies have shown that they can effectively treat sun damage, age spots, and other skin conditions. We usually recommend a course of three sessions spaced one month apart with a maintenance session every six months to one year. The best way to keep your skin looking health and youthful is to obtain regular treatments.

What are the risks and side effects of IPL?

IPL is safe for most people. However, it might be unsuitable for someone who is pregnant or recently tanned.,  As with any cosmetic treatment, there are possible side effects, but they are mostly mild and will go away on their own. These include irritation, redness, swelling, and bruising.

What should you do after your treatment?

After your IPL treatment, you will experience some skin pinkness and swelling, which may appear similar to a sunburn. This will resolve within the following days. Ice packs can be used to help reduce swelling. If you had brown spots treated during your IPL treatment, these spots will temporarily darken and then flake off over the next 1-2 weeks. You may also experience some light sensitivity, so it’s best to avoid direct sun exposure until the redness has faded. Finally, don’t forget to follow up with your dermatologist for advice on how to maintain the results from your treatment.

Contact Us

IPL is a great solution to a variety of skin concerns. If you are considering IPL, contact our dermatologists at Arlington Dermatology in Arlington, Virginia, for a consultation. They will evaluate your skin and help you determine if IPL is the right treatment for you.

Stay up-to-date on skincare tips, special offers, and more by joining us on Instagram.