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  • Writer's pictureErin Courtway

The Ultimate Guide to IPL Laser: Benefits, Risks, and Considerations

One of the most popular non-invasive procedures in aesthetic medicine is IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) laser therapy. IPL laser has gained widespread recognition for its ability to address a variety of skin concerns and conditions. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore what IPL laser is, its benefits, potential risks, and important considerations to help you make an informed decision if you're considering this treatment.

What is IPL Laser?

IPL, or Intense Pulsed Light, is a non-invasive light-based technology that utilizes broad-spectrum light to target various skin issues. Unlike traditional lasers that use a single wavelength, IPL employs a range of wavelengths, making it versatile for different applications. It is commonly used for sun spots or age spots, rosacea, fine lines, cherry angiomas, vascular lesions, and other pigmentation issues.

Benefits of IPL Laser:

1. Skin Rejuvenation: IPL stimulates collagen and elastin production, reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and sunspots. It can result in smoother, younger-looking skin with minimal downtime.

2. Pigmentation Correction: IPL can target and fade pigmented lesions like sunspots, freckles, and age spots leading to a more even skin tone. It can also target cherry angiomas that are often found in various areas of the body.

3. Reduction of Acne and Rosacea: IPL treatments can help manage acne and rosacea by shrinking sebaceous glands and reducing redness and inflammation.

Downtime: Unlike some invasive treatments, IPL laser procedures generally involve minimal downtime. Patients can usually resume their daily activities shortly after the session. Mild redness and swelling are common immediately after the procedure. After the laser treatment, dark spots usually get much darker for up to 14 days, then slowly flake off, leaving behind brighter and more youthful appearing skin.

Risks and Considerations:

1. Skin Sensitivity: IPL may cause temporary redness, swelling, or discomfort, which typically subsides within a few hours to a couple of days.

2. Hyperpigmentation or Hypopigmentation: In rare instances, IPL can cause temporary changes in skin pigmentation. Darker or lighter patches of skin may develop but often resolve over time. Not all skin tones are safe to use IPL because of this, so we do recommend a consult before you are treated to see if you are a good candidate.

3. Sun Exposure: It's crucial to avoid direct sun exposure without sunscreen 10-14 days before and after IPL treatment, as tanned or sunkissed skin can be more prone to complications like burns or pigmentation issues.

4. Multiple Sessions Required: Achieving the desired results often requires multiple IPL sessions spaced several weeks apart. This may mean a longer treatment process, which can vary based on the specific condition being treated.

5. Consult a Professional: IPL treatments should only be performed by trained and certified professionals. At PRISM, certified laser technicians perform our IPL treatments for our patients. It's essential to choose a reputable clinic or provider to minimize potential risks and maximize the benefits.

6. Individual Results Vary: While IPL can provide significant improvements in various skin concerns, the results can vary from person to person. We are able to treat more fair skin more aggressively due to less risk of hypopigmentation. A personalized consultation with a professional can help set realistic expectations and determine if you are a good candidate for this treatment.

Who is a good candidate for IPL:

IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) laser treatments can be effective and safe for a wide range of skin types, but some factors may influence the safety and effectiveness of the procedure. To determine if IPL is suitable for your skin type, it's important to consider both your skin color and your hair type. The Fitzpatrick Skin Type Scale is commonly used to categorize individuals into different skin types, with Types I to VI. Generally, individuals with skin types I to IV are considered good candidates for IPL, while those with skin types V and VI require special considerations and precautions.

Here's a breakdown of skin types and their suitability for IPL treatments:

Skin Types I and II:

- Skin Type I: Extremely fair or pale skin that always burns and never tans.

- Skin Type II: Fair skin that burns easily and tans minimally.

Individuals with Skin Types I and II are ideal candidates for IPL treatments. However, they may be more prone to post-treatment side effects like temporary redness or pigmentation changes as it heals. It's important to have a professional assessment to determine the right settings for the procedure to minimize these risks.

Skin Types III and IV:

- Skin Type III: Light to moderate brown skin that tans after an initial burn.

- Skin Type IV: Moderate brown skin that rarely burns and tans easily.

Skin Types III and IV are often good candidates for IPL treatments. They often see positive results with minimal risks of side effects when performed by experienced professionals. The risk of adverse effects, such as burns and hyperpigmentation, is higher in individuals with darker skin. At PRISM, our professionals often use lower energy settings or perform a test patch to assess the skin's reaction to IPL and make sure your skin type will respond well to the treatment.

Skin Types V and VI:

- Skin Type V: Dark brown skin that rarely burns and tans easily.

- Skin Type VI: Very dark skin that never burns and tans easily.

Individuals with skin types V and VI are generally unsafe to perform IPL treatments on. We recommend a consultation with one of our practitioners or certified laser technicians to see if you are a good candidate for this treatment.

Hair Color and Thickness:

Hair color and thickness also play a role in determining the suitability of IPL treatments. The procedure is most effective when there's a contrast between the hair color and skin color. Dark, coarse hair responds best to IPL, while light or fine hair may not be as responsive.

Always consult with a qualified practitioner for a personalized assessment and treatment plan tailored to your specific needs and skin type.


IPL laser is a versatile and effective cosmetic procedure for addressing a range of skin concerns. While the treatment offers numerous benefits, it's essential to be aware of potential risks and to carefully consider your individual needs and expectations before undergoing IPL therapy. To ensure a safe and successful IPL experience, consult with a qualified professional who can assess your suitability for the treatment and provide guidance throughout the process. With the right information and professional guidance, IPL laser can be a valuable tool in achieving your skincare goals and keeping your skin looking youthful and bright! Book your IPL treatment at PRISM and get your skin looking amazing.

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