Frequently Asked Questions: IPL Side Effects and More

Intense pulsed light or IPL is a great way to treat a variety of undesirable skin conditions.

Unlike traditional laser treatments, which emit one specific wavelength of light, IPL
treatments emit a broad spectrum of light with each pulse. The broad spectrum of light in each pulse makes IPL a versatile procedure capable of treating a variety of skin imperfections during a single treatment.

If you’re considering cosmetic IPL treatments, you probably have a few questions. Check out our list of frequently asked questions below.

What skin conditions can be treated with IPL?

IPL is a unique treatment option that can be used to treat a wide variety of cosmetic concerns including:

  • Uneven skin pigmentation
  • Vascular birthmarks
  • Facial redness
  • Freckles
  • Age spots
  • Broken capillaries
  • Rosacea
  • Sun damage

Are IPL treatments painful?

Generally, IPL treatments are not considered painful by most patients. Many compare a typical IPL session to the sensation of being snapped with a rubber band. Ultimately, your response will depend on your pain tolerance. Any discomfort will resolve within a few minutes of treatment.

What are the side effects of IPL treatment?

IPL side effects are generally both minor and temporary. It is possible that you will experience:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Light bruising
  • Itching
  • Peeling
  • Scabbing

In some cases, more serious IPL side effects such as burning, blistering or scarring have been reported. When present, these side effects are typically more common in patients with darker skin.

Following pre and post-operative instructions, along with choosing a reputable practitioner will greatly decrease your likelihood of undesirable side effects.

Is more than one treatment necessary?

Yes, in most cases you will need more than one treatment to see drastic improvements. Most practitioners recommend between 3 and 5 treatments, though it really depends on the area and type of condition being treated.

What are some of the advantages of IPL verses traditional laser treatment?

One of the key advantages of IPL is that a single type of treatment can treat a wide range of skin conditions, instead of having to undergo several different treatments (e.g., laser skin tightening, laser resurfacing, etc.).

In most cases, IPL treatments are also less expensive (averaging $300-600 per treatment) than most laser treatments ($1300-2100 for laser skin resurfacing treatments) and present a lesser degree of risk for burns or permanent scars.

Do you still have more questions? Contact us, we’d be happy to help!

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Dr. Michael J. Will cosmetic surgeon Maryland received his bachelor’s degree from Washington and Jefferson College, his dental degree from Georgetown University and his medical degree from the University of Texas.

He completed his General Surgery and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery training at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Will also completed a General Cosmetic Surgery fellowship at the Cosmetic Surgery Center in Little Rock, Arkansas.

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