Does IPL Work as an Effective Beauty Treatment? A Survey of Studies
What is IPL? It is short for “intense pulsed light” and it describes a class of devices that deliver high-intensity light for a very short duration at frequencies easily absorbed by red blood cells (hemoglobin) or melanin.
The idea behind IPL is that when high intensity light is absorbed by the hemoglobin inside dilated or broken blood vessels, it can reduce the appearance of redness or rosacea. When it is absorbed by the melanin in freckles or age spots, it can lighten them – in some cases, it can even remove them.
IPL is also claimed to improve the look of one’s skin by stimulating collagen, which is responsible for the skin’s tightness and strength.
Yeah, But Does IPL Work?
Worldwide, each year, women and men spend over US $110.3 billion on beauty and skin care treatment products. Given the amount of money spent on skin care, one has to ask how effective are these products and treatments? Most skin care products are not regulated by the FDA because they only make beauty or skin improvement claims, not medical or health claims. However, this doesn’t mean they are ineffective or a waste of money – many are quite effective.
IPL, on the other hand, does make medical and health claims, so it is an FDA approved treatment for certain conditions and problems — our Lumenis M22™ is an FDA approved device; further, because these treatments result in improved skin appearance, IPL qualifies as a beauty treatment product because it improves skin texture, tone and color.
Specific Claims and Evidence
Does IPL Lighten “Sun Spots”, “Age Spots”, And Brown Blotches?
- According to Harvard’s Skin Care and Repair Special Health Report, IPL can effectively diminish sun and brown age spots, freckles, red spots, and dilated blood vessels; additionally, these effects appear to be long lasting, according to the University of Maryland’s Medical Center.
- According to the University of Utah’s Health Care site, IPL can effectively diminish freckling and skin discoloration caused by sun damage and compounded by aging.
- According to The University of Texas’s Medical Branch at Galveston, IPL is “especially effective” in treating mottling (uneven dark spotting) and dyschromias (hyperpigmentation) caused by sun damage and inflammation from skin injury; additionally, according to a 2008 California State Science Fair project conducted at the University of Southern California under the direction of Dr. Verbin, IPL can reduce a scar’s hyperpigmentation to more “aesthetically pleasing” levels.
Is IPL Effective In Removing Hair?
- A recent review of “Current Trends in Intense Pulsed Light” by Dr. David J. Goldberg in the Journal of Clinical Aesthetic Dermatology (Jun 2012; 5(6): 45–53) found that IPL “can be used to treat unwanted hair in a variety of anatomic locations,” but its effectiveness varies with both hair color and size: IPL works better on coarse, dark hair rather than on light, fine hair, and it is typically ineffective on blond hair.
- According to The University of Texas’s Medical Branch at Galveston, recent advancement in IPL technology have resulted in these devices having increased hair removal effectiveness.
Can IPL Stimulate Collagen?
According to the same review of “Current Trends in Intense Pulsed Light” in the Journal of Clinical & Aesthetic Dermatology, IPL has been found to trigger a cytokine reaction in the skin which in turn stimulates the formation of new collagen I, III, and elastin. Because wrinkle reducing collagen creams ‘are a waste of money’, say scientists, this cytokine reaction triggering property makes IPL the only technology currently available that can slow the age related loss of collagen; further, this benefit could be combined with Botox for even better anti-aging results.
Book an appointment ONLINE using our Secure Online Booking System