Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Photofacials

Enhance your skin tone and texture with an IPL treatment. This noninvasive treatment uses intense pulses of broad-spectrum light to target pigmented and vascular lesions on your skin, creating an even and youthful complexion.

What Is IPL?

Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy is a noninvasive skin rejuvenation treatment. Also called a photofacial, it provides one of the safest and gentlest ways to improve the tone and texture of your skin with minimal side effects and little to no downtime.

An IPL treatment involves using a handheld device that emits short pulses of broad-spectrum light — similar to a photoflash. Pigment cells found in the deeper layers of your skin (melanin and hemoglobin) absorb this light, which is then converted into heat. This controlled heating destroys these pigments, leading to a more even complexion. The upper layer of your skin, called the epidermis, is not affected by this treatment, which shortens recovery time.

An IPL treatment is gentler than many skin resurfacing treatments, but you may need more than one session to achieve your desired results. One of its biggest advantages is that the recovery is quick since the treatment spares the top layer of your skin.

What Can IPL Treat?

An IPL treatment can improve the appearance of your skin by removing unwanted pigment. It can be used anywhere on the body where the skin appears uneven and dull. Problems that can successfully be treated with IPL include:

  • Birthmarks
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Melasma
  • Liver and age spots
  • Freckles
  • Broken capillaries
  • Spider veins
  • Rosacea redness

IPL can also help with mild wrinkles and unwanted hair.

How Is IPL Different from Laser Resurfacing?

While both IPL and lasers utilize light energy to rejuvenate the skin and remove imperfections, these treatments use different forms of light and have different effects on the skin.

Laser treatments use beams of light in a single wavelength and typically remove both the upper skin layer (epidermis) and heat the underlying layer (dermis). The upper layers peel off over several weeks, while the deeper layers of skin begin to produce new collagen and elastin fibers. The result is an improvement in skin tone and texture, with a reduction in discoloration, wrinkles and other irregularities.

IPL, on the other hand, heats the dermis while leaving the epidermis intact. This is achieved by directing different wavelengths of short pulses of light into pigments found deep within the skin. This is why IPL has no peeling or prolonged downtime compared to lasers.

Am I a Good Candidate for IPL?

The best candidates for IPL are individuals with lighter skin tones who are concerned about discoloration, redness or visible veins. IPL can correct these concerns and help you achieve a brighter, more even complexion.

IPL isn’t suitable for those with darker skin tones, as it targets melanin and could leave these patients with uneven pigmentation. This is also the case if you are interested in using IPL to remove unwanted hair.

Other contraindications for IPL include:

  • A recent sunburn
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • An active skin infection
  • A history of keloid scars

Getting Ready for Treatment

Before your IPL treatment, we will meet with you for an initial consultation to examine your skin, check your medical history and walk you through the treatment process. We will explain what you will need to avoid in the days before your treatment to help you avoid unwanted side effects and achieve the best possible results:

  • Tanning and direct sun exposure
  • Chemical peels and dermabrasion
  • Drugs and cosmetics containing retinol
  • Drugs and supplements that thin the blood (e.g., NSAIDs, vitamin E and fish oil)
  • Waxing and shaving (in case you are getting IPL hair removal)

The Treatment

An IPL photofacial is performed with the patient in a comfortable, reclined position. You will need to wear eye shields during treatment since IPL can damage the retinas. Your provider will first start by cleansing your skin, then apply a cold gel to the treatment area to enhance the device’s energy transmission.

Your provider will then guide the IPL handpiece across your skin. With each pulse of light, you may feel slight stinging or pinching, similar to what a rubber band hitting the skin feels like. Depending on the size of the treatment area, a typical IPL session takes no longer than 20 to 30 minutes to complete.

Because multiple sessions are needed to achieve visible results, your provider will schedule up to six appointments spaced four weeks apart. This is enough time to allow your skin to heal in between treatments.


Immediately after treatment, you may experience minor discomfort and swelling. These side effects should resolve on their own within 24 to 48 hours after treatment. The pain and swelling are the result of the IPL energy heating the dermis and feel like a minor sunburn.

In rare cases, patients may experience redness, bruising, blistering, itching and peeling. However, these are rare when the treatment is performed correctly and may depend on the patient’s skin sensitivity.

The skin usually takes about a week or two to completely heal from an IPL treatment. There is no need to take time off work or other social obligations during this time since side effects are minimal. If you experience any discomfort during your recovery, applying an ice pack can help soothe any discomfort. You can also take over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol if necessary.


You will notice an immediate improvement in your skin tone after a single IPL season. With each subsequent session, your results will gradually become more and more noticeable. These include a more even complexion, diminished discoloration, reduced redness and permanent reduction in vascular lesions.

The results of your IPL treatment can last for many years with good skin care. Make sure to use daily sun protection to avoid discoloration from returning, and choose skincare products designed for your particular skin type and concerns. Touch-up treatments every year or two can help you maintain your results for many years to come.

Refresh Your Skin’s Appearance with an IPL Photofacial

If you’re bothered by dark spots, sun damage, visible blood vessels or other skin imperfections, an IPL photofacial at Pure Plastic Surgery can help you achieve a brighter, more even complexion. Request a consultation by calling 786-245-7622 or completing our online contact form to learn how this treatment can restore a healthier skin appearance.



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