IPL is short for intense pulsed light. This method is used to treat spots, unwanted hair, and wrinkles. In addition, it can also be used to remove or reduce sun damage, birthmarks, freckles, rosacea, and hair on your neck, legs, face, underarms, or chest.
Is IPL the Same As a Laser Treatment?
While both treatments have similarities, IPL emits multiple wavelengths compared to a laser that only releases a single wavelength of light. In addition, the light from a laser is much less scattered and more focused than the light from IPL. Intense pulsed light is much less damaging to your skin because it penetrates into your skin’s layer without causing any harm to the upper layer (epidermis).
How Does It Work?
Your skin’s pigment cells convert the light energy into heat, and as a result, the heat clears up your spots and freckles by destroying the unwanted pigment. In the case of controlling hair growth on certain parts of your body, it works by destroying the follicle.
Where Can the IPL Laser Treatment Be Used?
Typically, you can have it done to any part of your body. However, it doesn’t work well for people with darker skin tones or uneven areas. When it comes to hair, it works well on darker hair as compared to light hair.
How Much Does It Cost?
There isn’t a single price set for the IPL laser treatment because the cost relies on the treatment area’s size and the condition you’re dealing with. On average, it can be between $700 to more than $1000, but there can also be additional costs such as:
- Follow-up visits
- Anesthesia tests
- Prescribed medicines, etc.
Also, note that since it is a cosmetic procedure, it is highly unlikely for your health insurance to cover the cost.
How Can You Prepare for It?
Your skin specialist will review your medical history and may also conduct a physical exam to determine what is wrong with your skin. During this time, you must discuss the procedure requirements, costs, risks, and results to avoid confusion. Your skin specialist may ask you to:
- Avoid applying deodorants and perfumes to the target area
- Avoid chemical peels, sunbathing, or any other possible source of skin exposure to the sun or chemicals for at least two weeks before the treatment starts
- Avoid herbal medicines, aspirin, and anti-inflammatory drugs as they may inflate your bleeding risk
How Is the Procedure Performed?
The following steps are involved in the treatment:
- First, your target area is cleaned by your skincare professional.
- Then your skin receives some cool gel treatment.
- Then your skin specialist will use an intense pulsed light device to release light pulses to your skin.
- Your professional may ask you to wear glasses to save your eyes from the treatment’s intensity.
- The pulses can cause a stinging sensation much similar to getting snapped by a rubber band.
It should take around half an hour for the treatment to complete, but the duration is subject to change depending on the following factors:
- The size of your target treatment area
- The part of your body exposed to intense pulsed light
You may need to get up to six treatments a month apart for ideal results. In the case of hair removal, you may have to go for as many as twelve treatments.
How well the treatment works also depends on the device being used. For some cosmetic procedures, a new intense pulsed light device may give the same results as a laser treatment. However, for hair removal, it works better on dark and thick hair as compared to light and thin hair.
We recommend consulting your skincare professional to determine how many sessions you require to achieve the desired results.
Are There Any Risks Associated?
According to the ASDS (American Society for Dermatologic Surgery), it is possible to experience mild swelling or redness following the procedure. It doesn’t usually last for more than two days. In rare cases, you may also have the following:
- Change in color
What Happens Post-Procedure?
It is possible for the patient to not see any noticeable difference for some weeks after the IPL laser treatment is performed. Some expected post-procedure consequences are:
- Your skin may be red or pink for up to eight hours or more
- You may feel a little stinging sensation, but it usually goes away in about six hours. You can also use a cold pack to reduce it.
- You may experience mild swelling, but it goes away in some days.
What Are the Alternatives to Intense Pulsed Light?
There are many other options available to treat spots, unwanted hair, and lines, such as:
As compared to IPL, laser treatments do not require a lot of sessions. They are more effective on darker skin and may cost more than $2000 on average.
This, too, is an alternative to IPL, but the results are not permanent. On average, it costs up to $138 dollars per session.
Fraxel Laser Treatment
It is a non-ablative treatment that allows your skin to regenerate. However, you may require a number of treatments before you see any visible results. It can cost over $1000 per session.
Pros and Cons of IPL Laser Treatment
- It’s a popular and effective method to treat spots, lines, and unwanted hair.
- It is also much faster as compared to other methods
- There aren’t as many side effects as with other treatments
- Recovery is also relatively faster
- Ideal results may require you to come for several sessions
- It doesn’t work very well on light hair and dark skin
In the end, you must weigh the pros of cons of this treatment and have a detailed consultation with your skincare specialist before proceeding. Make sure to evaluate all the risks, benefits, and costs of the entire length of your procedure to make an informed decision.