Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

Available In Pittsburgh, PA

What Is Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)?

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) targets brown and red irregularities in your complexion, such as hyperpigmentation, dark spots, breakouts, rosacea, broken capillaries, redness, inflammation, and more. After one treatment, you’ll see improved skin quality, but a series of treatments may be needed to achieve your goals depending on the severity of your concerns.

IPL is offered at our Wexford and Shadyside locations in Pittsburgh, PA. Call to find out about comparable treatments, such as chemical peels or LaseMD Ultra, available at our other medical spa locations.

Which skin concerns does IPL treat?

A series of IPL treatments can improve the appearance of:

Brown-based pigmentation issues such as:

  • Acne scars
  • Age spots
  • Birthmarks
  • Freckles
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Melasma
  • Port-wine stains
  • Sun damage

Red-based vascular irregularities such as:

  • Acne
  • Breakouts
  • Broken capillaries
  • Inflammation
  • Redness / flushed appearance
  • Rosacea
ipl gallery

How does IPL work?

A handpiece delivers a series of broad-spectrum visible light pulses into your skin to break up the darkened pigment or vascular irregularities, gently fading their appearance. IPL isn’t a laser treatment. Lasers use just one focused wavelength of light and are ablative to the surface of your skin. IPL emits multiple scattered wavelengths, like a photo flash, which surpass your skin’s surface and work at a deeper level to target brown and red irregularities. In fact, IPL treatments are often referred to as a photofacial. The procedure only takes about 15 – 30 minutes depending on the size of the area treated.

Are IPL treatments painful?

Some people describe the sensation to be similar to the snap of a rubber band as each pulse of energy touches the skin. Although the treatment isn’t painful for most individuals, a topical anesthetic cream may be applied to minimize any discomfort.

What is the recovery like?

Your skin may feel like it has a slight sunburn—tight, dry and sensitive—for a day or two. Any redness can be easily covered up with foundation, concealer, or a tinted moisturizer. Pigmented areas may darken slightly before fading away. 

Is more than one IPL treatment necessary?

Most patients need a series of 4 to 6 sessions, scheduled at 4-week intervals, to reach their long-term goals. You may also want to schedule IPL touch-ups once or twice a year to manage new discoloration concerns that emerge due to aging and sun exposure. 

When will I see the results of IPL?

One to two weeks after your first treatment, you’ll see improved skin clarity. Expect your best results to occur after receiving a series of treatments over the span of 4 to 6 months. 

Are IPL results permanent?

A birthmark treated with IPL will never come back, but new hyperpigmentation issues caused by aging or recently accrued sun damage can surface. Vitamin C and broad-spectrum SPF 15 (or higher) are the two most important skincare ingredients to use daily to help protect your IPL results and prevent further pigmentation issues. We recommend SkinMedica Vitamin C+E Complex and SkinMedica Essentials Defense Mineral Shield SPF 35.

What are the risks of IPL?

IPL treatments are considered very safe. While there is some risk of hypo- and hyperpigmentation, scarring, and burns, these are generally due to untrained providers. You’re in safe hands at The Skin Center. We’ve successfully performed over 500,000 aesthetic treatments and are committed to providing our experts with extensive education and training for all of our procedures. You should not get IPL if you are sensitive to light flashes. Avoid the use of retinoid creams 1-week prior to receiving IPL. If you have a history of keloid scarring or have a very deep skin tone, IPL may not be your best option. Schedule a complimentary consultation to understand if IPL is right for you.

What are some of the advantages of IPL versus a traditional laser treatment?

Most laser treatments are somewhat ablative in nature, so they affect the outer surface of the skin. This can result in side effects like redness, peeling, and minor swelling that require a few days away from your normal routine to recover. Since IPL works in the layers of tissue beneath the skin’s surface, it causes few, if any, visible side effects. IPL may not be strong enough to treat severe pigmentation issues, which could be more effectively treated by a laser. Schedule a complimentary consultation to understand if IPL is right for you.

Alternative Treatments

Chemical Peels

A Chemical Peel uses a precise chemical solution to remove the damaged outer layers of the skin, revealing a bright, healthy, more vibrant complexion.

Fraxel Laser Skin Resurfacing

Available in Pittsburgh, Fraxel® Dual 1550\/1927 laser treatment, the latest advancement in fractional technology, is the ideal laser treatment for people with active lifestyles who want to improve skin tone and texture without the downtime or redness associated with other laser skin resurfacing treatments.

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