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What is Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)?

Dr. Michele Green is an expert in New York in laser treatments including the IPL treatment. With over 25 years of experience in minimally invasive cosmetic treatments, Dr. Green combines the science of technology and the art of cosmetics to bring you the very best in laser treatments in NYC. In her NYC private dermatology office, she is able to customize a treatment protocol designed precisely for your skin type and skin condition. IPL treatment, also called photo rejuvenation, is a technology based on different wavelengths of light, and is used as anti-aging treatment to rejuvenate the skin. Intense pulsed light is different from a laser treatment in that a laser typically is focused on a single wavelength of light. IPL, however, releases many different wavelengths of light and produces a “flash” of light. Since IPL has more than one wavelength, it is able to treat many different skin conditions. The light from the IPL is scattered and reaches down to the dermal layer of the skin. Depending on which wavelength of light is utilized, either pigment cells, hair follicles, or blood vessels, absorb the light energy, and are destroyed. IPL can undo the visible damage caused by the sun, pollution, environmental stresses, and photo aging.

Which skin conditions can IPL Treatment remedy?

Intensed Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy, which is often referred to as “Forever Young BBL”, and sometimes called a photo facial, offers New York patients the chance to improve the tone and texture of their skin without significant recovery or downtime. The IPL is ideal for evening out skin tone, texture, sun damage, or healing visible redness from broken capillaries or rosacea. IPL is a safe and effective treatment which can help you look your best.  IPL treatment is able to treat many different skin conditions including:

  • Brown spots
  • Sun damage
  • Broken blood vessels
  • Facial rosacea
  • Skin laxity
  • Hair removal
  • Freckles
  • Birthmarks
  • Skin tone and texture
  • Leg veins
  • Sun spots
  • Acne scars
  • Hyperpigmentation


Who is a good candidate for the IPL?

A good candidate for Intense Pulsed Light is a patient who has sun damage, freckles, age spots, or broken blood vessels and wants skin rejuvenation. These issues may be on the face, chest, neck, or body. One of the benefits of intense pulsed light therapy is that there is no downtime required for this procedure. Also called a photo facial, this intense pulsed light treatment, improves fine lines and wrinkles, tightens the skin, and also removes unwanted hair. Many patients choose IPL over chemical peels since there is no downtime associated with this treatment. In addition, IPL can treat spider veins and leg veins and remove pigmented spots or vascular lesions on the face or body. In this way, Intense Pulsed Light treatment can treat the majority of skin problems from sun exposure. IPL can also be used effectively for patients with red marks from acne and acne scars.

What should I do to prepare for the IPL?

The IPL treatment is not painful. The IPL treatment feels a little bit like a rubber band snapping against your skin. The stinging is mild and no topical numbing cream is required for the procedure. You should avoid having a sunburn or being tanned before the procedure, as the IPL will interpret the tan as pigment that it needs to remove, and you could potentially have a burn. If you suffer from melasma, you should also avoid IPL treatment as the light energy can exacerbate melasma and make it more noticeable. It is best to avoid topical Retinoids or alpha-hydroxyacids before your IPL treatment as well. If you are having IPL for hair removal, it is not advised to wax or tweeze the hair for at least two weeks before the procedure so that the hair follicle itself can be treated.

What should I expect during the IPL treatment?

Dr. Green will prep the treatment area by removing all makeup and sunscreen before your session. Protective goggles will be given to you to wear during the treatment to protect your eyes. A cool gel is applied to your skin and the light pulses from the IPL will be delivered to the dermal layer of your skin. The pulses will feel a little like a rubber band snapping against the skin. The treatment time will take between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on which area of the body is being treated and for which specific skin condition. The number of treatment sessions needed depends on both the skin condition being treated and the condition of the skin. For example, laser hair removal typically takes six sessions and extensive photo damage takes five to six sessions.

What is the aftercare for the IPL treatment?

It is important to maintain strict sun avoidance for the week after your IPL treatment and use a broad spectrum sunscreen to the treated area. Although this treatment is non ablative with minimal to no downtime, it is important that proper skin care and sun avoidance be maintained after your skin treatment for the best cosmetic results.

What is the cost of the IPL treatment?

The cost of the IPL treatment ranges depending on the skin condition being treated and the size of the treatment area. A small area for hair removal may be $200 but a photo facial may be $800 per session. During the consultation with your dermatologist, Dr. Green will review all of the prices and procedures with you.


How does IPL compare to laser treatment?

A laser uses a single focused wavelength of light to treat a specific skin condition, whether it be redness with the V-Beam, or sun spots with the Alex-Trivantage. There are both ablative and non ablative laser treatments available. Ablative laser treatments heat up the skin, and remove the top layer of skin. Non ablative lasers, such as the Fraxel laser, treat only a fraction of the skin and and do not disturb the top layer of skin. After Fraxel laser, new collagen is formed, and it can treat fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage, and acne scars. Lasers, such as the Fraxel laser, treat these skin conditions with fewer treatment sessions than Intense Pulsed Light.

What are the possible side effects of IPL?

Potential side effects of Intense Pulsed Light treatments are:

  • Blistering
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Hypopigmentation
  • Scarring
  • Infection
  • Bruising
  • Worsening of facial melasma

How IPL Helps

Dr. Green performs IPL treatments using the Sciton IPL machine, also known as Forever Young BBL™, broadband light. The BBL is known as the world’s most powerful IPL machine. BBL uses a special pulse laser approach by delivering short bursts of high-intensity light energy below the skin’s surface. This light energy helps to damage the melanin (skin pigmentation) responsible for causing age spots and other skin discoloration, and also addresses the damaged blood vessels which cause visible broken capillaries. IPL treatments also help boost the natural collagen production in the skin. For skin rejuvenation, this procedure can help removes age spots, freckles, redness, small vein vessels as well as reduce active acne.

Although IPL is similar to laser therapy, the treatments are much gentler than traditional laser resurfacing procedures, and require no downtime following a treatment session. Although IPL is a comfortable procedure for the majority of patients, some do notice mild discomfort during their treatment, although this sensation lessens with continued treatments. While there may be some variance depending on the area being treated and amount of correction that’s needed, you can expect most treatment sessions to take about half an hour.

The BBL™ broadband light uses infrared light energy to heat the dermal layer of the skin, stimulates new collagen production, and tightens and firms the skin. This SkinTyte™ treatment is extremely effective at tightening the skin in the lower face, jowls, and neck, and leaving you younger looking with each successive treatment. This skin tightening treatment has been so successful that patients return on a yearly basis for maintenance treatments.

How many treatments of IPL do I need?

Because of the minimally invasive nature of IPL, Dr. Green recommends a series of treatments for the best results, usually between four and six sessions spaced approximately one month apart. The number of treatments will vary from patient to patient according to your specific appearance goals. You should see a change in your skin right after your first treatment session. At first, brown spots will actually become darker and you may see some redness. This can be covered by makeup, and should resolve quickly. Skin will look smoother and your skin tone will become more even, with the skin looking brighter and more radiant following each session.

How do I get started with the IPL treatment for photo rejuvenation?

If you’re ready to resolve the redness from rosacea, the appearance of broken capillaries or the hyperpigmentation from sun damage, there’s finally a solution that can help with no downtime . To schedule a consultation with Dr. Green in her NYC office contact us online today or call 212-535-3088 to learn more about whether IPL treatment may be right for you.

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