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Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

What is Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)?

Intense pulsed light (IPL) technology delivers diffuse, multi-colored light utilizing a range of filters of visible and invisible light energy. (IPL) is a high energy broad spectrum light emitting device. Since the invention of Intense Pulsed Light in 2003, it has become one of the most common devices for skin rejuvenation as the cost of purchase and maintenance is typically lower than a laser. There are over 50 different variations available for sale to physicians.

What is it commonly used for?

IPL treats both broken blood vessels and pigmented spots, as well as photodamage, acne, and unwanted hair. Pigmented spots should always be examined by qualified medical providers prior to treatment so that a skin cancer is not missed.

How does it work?

The treatment is administered through a rectangular or square crystal handpiece coupled with a cooling device and gel. Selection of appropriate IPL filters or treatment heads is important for several reasons. It allows delivery of the correct light for patient’s skin color and for the specific target or chromophore (i.e., pigmented lesions, photodamage, acne, unwanted hair, blood vessels).

What are the benefits of Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)?

The ability of IPL to produce a non-coherent light over a long spectrum was thought to have multiple advantages over a single wavelength laser system. These theoretical advantages include absorption by both oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin, the pigment melanin and absorption by larger blood vessels located deeper in the skin. An advantage has been larger spot size with the ability to treat large surfaces like chest, arms and legs as well as a relatively low incidence of bruising for broken blood vessels.

Updated September 3, 2015

The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery is the world’s largest scientific organization dedicated to promoting research, education and high standards of clinical care in the field of medical laser applications. It provides a forum for the exchange of scientific information and participation in communicating the latest developments in laser medicine and surgery to clinicians, research investigators, government and regulatory agencies, and the public.

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