What is Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)?
First, IPL isn’t exactly the same as a laser. Both use light, but the technology is quite different. The primary distinction, however, is the type of light being used for the treatment.
Laser devices generate light consisting of one wavelength (or color) all going in only one direction. Think of a laser light pointer.
IPL machines, on the other hand, generate a wide spectrum of light wavelengths which appear as a single white flash similar to natural light. During treatment, the light may briefly glow orange-red, similar to a flash from a camera.
Light, whether laser or IPL, works according to the same general principles when used for a medical treatment.
- Light enters the skin.
- The light heats the unwanted cells to the desired temperature.
- After treatment, the unwanted treated cells are gradually absorbed by the body.
The key, of course, is ensuring that the right type of light is used. An IPL machine allows the physician to carefully control the light output so that exactly the right wavelengths are directed to only a very specific area. Because IPL uses less concentrated light, it is considered safer than more powerful lasers.