Many patients easily confuse intense pulsed light (IPL) and laser. Why? Because some of the primary reasons a patient may seek IPL therapy are often similar to those concerns that can also be addressed with laser therapy. One common example of this is sun damage. Both treatment modalities can effectively treat unwanted brown spots and broken blood vessels thereby giving the skin a more rejuvenated appearance. Both IPL and laser therapy can also be used to remove unwanted hair.
An IPL treatment consists of a series of high-intensity pulses of broad spectrum light; whereas a laser delivers a direct beam of energy to one specific target. With that being said, there are advantages to both procedures, and understanding the primary differences between the two is important when determining the best treatment plan to address your personal concerns.
What are the advantages of a laser therapy?
Instead of delivering pulses of a broad spectrum light, a laser beam focuses on one specific wavelength, which allows for precise, targeted treatment of several different conditions. For example, tattoos can only be removed by lasers, not IPL. Also, while IPL stimulates collagen, it is not as effective or efficient as laser resurfacing for collagen stimulation.
Common conditions treated by laser therapy:
- Acne Scarring
- Broken Capillaries
- Brown Spots
- Enlarged Pores
- Scar Treatments
- Spider Veins
- Sun Damage
- Tattoo Removal
- Unwanted Hair
- Winkles and Fine Lines
Depending on the laser used, occasionally patients can expect some downtime following the procedure. This is especially true with laser resurfacing , which is indicated for treatment of fine lines and wrinkles. Laser resurfacing is also often performed to reduce the appearance of scars, including acne scarring. With the advancements in fractional laser technology, the downtime that can be expected after laser resurfacing has significantly decreased.
So what are IPL’s advantages then?
Intense pulsed light is an excellent treatment option for patients seeking overall facial rejuvenation with little to no downtime following treatment. Multiple treatments are often recommended for optimal results.
An IPL is specifically handy for:
- Diminishing redness in the face
- Reducing brown spots
- Rejuvenating visibly aging or damaged skin
- Erasing broken capillaries
- Minimizing pore size.
Although the difference between IPL and lasers can often be confusing, the best way to discover which procedure best suits your needs is by consulting your health care provider or local cosmetic surgeon. Many factors such as skin types, allergies, and medical conditions should be taken into consideration by a medical professional prior to a treatment.