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30 min to 1 hour depending on area

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What is IPL?

Intense pulsed light (IPL) is a cosmetic skin treatment. People may use it to reduce the signs of aging, pigmentation, vasculature, reduce acne, or remove unwanted hair. An IPL treatment uses the power of broadband light to deliver pulses of intense light to penetrate the layers of the skin. Most patients describe experiencing a fast, pinching sensation during treatment, with minimal discomfort. There is no need for injections or incisions, giving patients the bonus of no downtime required.

What is unique about IPL?

Unlike lasers, an IPL device sends out more than one wavelength of pulsating light. It can treat a range of skin conditions at the same time. After IPL, you may look younger because your skin tone is more even. While laser therapy uses a set wavelength depending on the procedure, intense pulsed light therapy uses multiple different wavelengths of light released in pulses. You can think of it as a strobe light passing along the skin. IPL isn’t a focused beam like a laser. It instead is dispersed beams of light that work together. As the light penetrates down to the second layer of skin, it allows the cells to absorb its energy, heat up, and eventually destroy the pigmentation within the cell. This is how age spots, other discoloring blemishes, moles, birthmarks, and rosacea are diminished.

How does it work?

IPL works on the same principles as laser in that light energy is absorbed by targeted cells (chromophores) with color in the skin. The light energy is converted to heat energy, which causes damage to the specific target area. IPL systems are different to lasers in that they deliver many wavelengths (or colors) in each pulse of light instead of just one wavelength. This technology use filters to refine the energy output for the treatment of certain areas. This enhances penetration without using excessive energy levels and enables targeting of specific chromophores (skin components that absorb light). The light heats cells in the skin and breaks them down. The body then removes the damaged tissue naturally.

How does it feel?

During the procedure, people may feel a pinching sensation. Some individuals have described this as a feeling similar to an elastic band being “snapped” on the skin. Sensation is moderate and very tolerable.

What to expect

Your skin may be temperature sensitive for several days after treatment. Brown spots and freckles will appear darker while healing.

It should take 4-6 weeks to see the full result and 2-3 treatments may be required to achieve an optimum result.

The sessions are designed to provide no downtime however, occasionally you may find that your cheeks and under eye areas are slightly puffy after treatment. You may use cold compresses (5 minutes on and 10 minutes off) several times an hour to help ease both redness and swelling.

Sleeping with your head elevated for the first night will also help decrease any swelling you may experience.

Redness around the treated area for a few hours to days.

Freckles and age spots may darken for three to seven days before starting to fade.

Skin flaking for up to 10 days.

Minor bruising that may last two weeks or less.


- Before your appointment -

It is imperative that you avoid significant sun exposure and tanning beds for at least 4 weeks prior to your treatment.

Avoid applying self-tanner for 2 weeks prior to treatment.

Avoid aspirin and Ibuprofen for one week prior to your treatment. Inform the doctor if you are taking blood thinners or regularly take aspirin or ibuprofen.

Avoid alcohol for 2 days prior to treatment.

Inform the doctor if you have taken Accutane (oral acne medication) in the past year.

- Pre-treatment, day of appointment -

If possible, arrive without creams or make-up on the treatment area. Otherwise please arrive 10 minutes prior to your appointment in order to clean the skin. Cleansing products are available for your convenience.

Allow approximately 45 minutes for your appointment depending on the size of the treatment area.

Pre-treatment photos will be taken.Just prior to treatment, you will be given eye shields or glasses to wear to protect your eyes.


Use mild cleansers and moisturizers.

Avoid Aspirin, Ibuprofen, alcohol, heavy exertion and activities which may cause flushing for 2 days after treatment.

Avoid harsh topical products such as retinols and glycolic acid products for one week after.

Avoid direct sunlight on the treated area and use a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater for 4 -6 weeks after your treatment.

Anticipate some social downtime following your treatment.

Have more questions?

View the FAQ PDF.

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