Benefits of Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Therapy & Its Side Effects

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), or flash lamp therapy, is a technique that is used in dermatology for removing stretch marks, acne scars, and also for preventing regrowth of hair. This article deals with detailed information about intense pulsed light treatment, its benefits and side effects.

Contrary to popular belief, intense pulsed light (IPL) is not a laser treatment, though it makes use of light for carrying out the treatment. It is a non-invasive procedure, which makes it attractive for many people. Risks associated with intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy are also minimal and the patient is usually able to return to their normal activities immediately after the procedure. So does this therapy really work? Let us understand the intense pulsed light therapy in detail.

What is Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Therapy?

Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy makes use of a broad spectrum of light that is controlled in order to remove acne marks, stretch marks, removal of body hair, and also to prevent the regrowth of hair. The light in this therapy is converted into heat energy for destroying the cells responsible for producing melanin in the skin or also repair the broken capillaries on the skin that cause spider veins to appear. The pigment cells that are present in your skin absorb this light energy, which gets converted to heat energy. The heat energy destroys any unwanted or excess pigment on the skin, thus helping in clearing up spots and freckles on the skin. The heat energy also works to destroy the hair follicles present on the skin, thus preventing the hair from growing back again.

There are many benefits of intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy and is a popular treatment option for many cosmetic problems. However, there may be some side effects, which you must be aware about before considering IPL as a treatment option.

How Does Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Therapy Differ From Laser Treatment?

Many people often confuse intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy with laser treatment. While both the procedures are very similar, there is, nevertheless, a difference between both. While a laser works by focusing only on one wavelength of light on the skin, IPL works by releasing light of many wavelengths on the skin, similar to the concept of a photo flash.

This is why the light from IPL therapy is also less focused and more scattered (due to the many wavelengths present) as compared to a laser. IPL therapy is also able to penetrate to the second layer of the skin, known as dermis, without causing any harm to the top layer of the skin, known as the epidermis. This causes much less damage to the skin, which also adds to the benefits of intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy.

It is possible to use IPL therapy anywhere on the body, but it may not give the desirable effect on areas that are uneven. Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy is not meant for people who are prone to get raised, thick, keloid scars, or who have a darker skin tone. It is also more effective on darker body hair as compared to light-colored hair.

What Are The Benefits of Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Therapy?

With the advancement of technology, the newly-designed intense pulsed light (IPL) devices work just as well as laser treatments for many cosmetic treatments, such as removing scars. The benefits of intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy are several benefits and is popularly used by experts. When it comes to hair removal, intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy is known to work better on thick, dark hair, rather than light-colored, fine body hair. For hair removal, you will also need to undergo several treatment sessions in order to actually achieve the desired results.

Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy has many benefits can be used for minimizing or removing the following:

Are There Any Side Effects Associated With IPL Therapy?

As with any medical procedure, there are some risks associated with intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy as well, but they are relatively minor ones. In general, people who undergo the procedure can experience some mild redness, swelling in that area after the procedure gets completed. This usually subsides within a day or two.

Some of the other possible side effects of intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy noted in some people include

  • Blistering
  • Bruising
  • Infection (in rare cases)
  • Change in skin color (in rare cases)

If you notice any of these side effects, you should consult your dermatologist immediately.


Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy provides good results when it comes to fading lines and spots on the skin and getting rid of unwanted hair. The IPL therapy sessions are also much quicker than the laser treatment method and as the light in this therapy does not cause any damage to the top layer of your skin, there are thus, lesser side effects as compared to dermabrasion or a laser treatment. The recovery period is also very fast, which too adds to the benefits of intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy.

However, keep in mind that IPL does not work well on darker complexions and light-colored body hair. Before going ahead with the treatment, make sure that you discuss all the available options, the pros and cons, and the benefits of the procedure with your dermatologist. Also, inform them if you have any existing underlying condition.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 23, 2018

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