What Is IPL & How Does It Beautify Skin?

Aesthetics Hub | 20 Jul 2020

The desire to beautify one’s skin is becoming more and more common among all types of people: men, women, young, old, middle-aged. There are many ways to go about it, but one that’s increasing in popularity is IPL, or intense pulsed light. So, what exactly is IPL?

IPL Facial 

Credit: Healthline

IPL vs. Laser Treatment

IPL is similar to laser treatment, but the light is less concentrated. Where lasers use a single focused wavelength, IPL spreads out the light using several wavelengths. “Since IPL uses a diffused light, it gives off less energy and is gentler than other types of laser treatment,” says Hailey Richards, master esthetician at the University of Utah. Other laser treatments typically alter the structure of skin cells to remove or re-shape unwanted blemishes, tattoos, or scars.


What Can Be Treated

IPL is attracted only to red and brown pigment, but there are many conditions that it can help with. These include:

  • Common brown or red blemishes
  • Sunspots
  • Age spots
  • Vascular redness
  • Broken blood vessels
  • Rosacea
  • Cherry hemangioma (red “mole-like” discolourations)
  • Hormonal pigmentation

IPL can treat discolouration from acne, but it is not an effective treatment for the ongoing condition of acne. It is also not effective for removing freckles, since the pigment is much deeper and permanent.

The most commonplace for IPL treatment is on the face. But it can also be used for discolouration on the neck, chest, and hands.


Treatments: How Often, How Long

To see results for most conditions, two to three sessions are needed about four weeks apart. Each session length depends on the size of the area being treated. It takes around 30 minutes for a complete facial treatment, and twice that if you add neck and chest. IPL is rarely a permanent solution to blemishes. Some maintenance treatments may be needed once a year or every other year.


Is It Painful?

This depends on your pain threshold. Some describe it as mild discomfort or as if tiny rubber bands were flicking the skin. If that thought doesn’t seem fun, your esthetician can prescribe a topical numbing cream that is applied before treatment. After a treatment, there is often mild scabbing in some of the treated areas. Many patients say it feels a bit like a sunburn afterwards. One of the benefits of IPL is that there’s very little to no downtime. You can typically go back to work or your daily routine the next day.


Possible Complications

The skin is a sensitive organ and requires careful attention when undergoing any cosmetic procedure. Although complications are rare, they can happen. Some complications include blistering, scarring, redness, or burns. Permanent discolouration of the skin can also occur, sometimes through hypopigmentation (all pigment is removed) or hyperpigmentation (extra pigment is created). Keep in mind that these conditions are very rare.

You should not get IPL treatment if you’ve had a recent suntan or burn. Nor should you go out into the sun unprotected after a treatment. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also avoid treatments.

Since IPL is attracted to brown pigment, there is an increasingly higher risk with darker skin tones. However, if there is any uncertainty, a skilled esthetician will test a small inconspicuous area on the patient before proceeding.


Always See a Pro

The best way to minimize risk is by going to a reputable esthetician. Do some research. Have they been doing it for a while, or are they new to the field? Do they require a dermatologist consultation first, or do they just go for it?


This article first appeared in Health University of Utah.


Our Panel of Doctor's Services
DR Celine Leong, Astique Clinic
IPL, Call to Enquire
IPL Hair Removal can permanently reduce or eliminate unwanted hair growth on the underarms, face, legs, arms and back.
Laser Hair Removal, Call to Enquire
Laser Hair Removal can permanently reduce or eliminate unwanted hair growth on the underarms, face, legs, arms and back.
Mole Removal (Small Moles), $160.5
Laser Mole Removal is very effective for moles which do not go very deep into the skin.
Tattoo Removal, 5 sessions at $856
Laser Tattoo Removal remains the most common and effective method for removing tattoos. It is also non-invasive as compared to skin-grafting.
350 Orchard Road, #08-00 Shaw House, Singapore 238868
Dr Ivan Tan, Nu.Reflections Medical Aesthetics
IPL (Intense Pulsed Light), from $300 onwards
IPL uses a high intensity light at different wavelengths to treat a variety of skin concerns including pigmentation, photo-ageing, telangectasia as well as unwanted hair.
Triniti Total Face Renewal, from $1,800 onwards
This treatment combines IPL, Radiofrequency and Diode Laser which work synergistically to provide an overhaul, improving the texture, colour and tone for the aging skin.
NR Total Rejuvenation, from $600 onwards
The NR Total Rejuvenation uses a synergistic combination of IPL and Laser energies to achieve and overall rejuvenation in the the skin quality, tone and texture.
Tattoo Removal, from $200 onwards
This high powered laser system is safe and effective in the removal of unwanted tattoos.
123 Penang Road, Office tower #05-12 Regency House (next to old Cockpit Hotel), Singapore 238465