Most Common Uses of Intense Pulsed Light Therapy

IPL therapy, or Intense Pulsed Light therapy, is used for treating a wide array of medical conditions, including aging skin. Previously, this technology was known as ‘Intense Pulse Light therapy’. IPL is preformed with machines that are used to aim high-intensity light pulses upon specific areas of the skin.

The intense pulse of light used here is not laser, but it is safer, equally penetrative and very effective. Unlike laser treatment that uses one type of light, IPL uses different kinds of pulsed lights during the treatment. Each light has a different level of penetration and is used in a specific combination to achieve the desired results.

Tattoo-Pigmented Skin

Within the niche of skin pigmentation caused due to external causes, tattoo-induced pigmentation is one of biggest challenges. This is essentially because the removal of tattoo scars/tattoo ink is seldom comprehensive, usually leaving behind a traceable pattern on the underlying skin. Further, the tattoo ink is sourced from various metals like titanium, carbon and aluminum that often seep deep within the skin, causing deep-rooted pigmentation. IPL is among the few treatments that offer comprehensive removal of tattoo pigmentation. However, this might require repeated IPL treatment sessions, spaced-out over a period of few weeks.


This is among the most significant and common uses of Intense Pulsed Light, wherein it is used for cutaneous treatment, i.e. treating pigmented lesions and skin discoloration. Here, the idea is to target and limit the melanin production in the epidermis. Melanin is the pigment that is largely responsible for giving the pigments their typically dark coloration. During IPL therapy, melanin formation in the problematic areas of the skin is either impaired or totally eradicated. This application of IPL therapy includes treating:

  • Aging-related Pigmentation—specialized Intense Pulsed Light treatments are now being marketed by dermatology clinics as an anti-aging treatment. This includes a specialized form of IPL called PhotoDerm that is adept at eradicating pigmentation associated with aging skin and spotting caused by freckles and birthmarks.
  • Sun Damage-related Pigmentation—IPL is also recommended for the treatment of sunlight-induced pigmentation that seems like uncontrolled tanning in certain parts of the face.


Intense Pulsed Light treatment is among the very rare therapies that have been successful at treating chronic skin conditions like rosacea. This is largely because IPL uses intense heating in a very precise manner. Unlike laser therapy, that can often irritate the skin suffering from rosacea, IPL can be used for restricted, dermal heating.

Nevus of Ota

Nevus of Ota is a potentially-cancerous skin condition wherein melanosis or excessive pigmentation gives rise to the formation of blackish patches. Intense Pulsed Light treatment is able to stop the pigmentation process in nevus of Ota, along with slowly killing the underlying cancerous growth.

Spider Veins

During IPL therapy, light pulses are precisely directed at skin showing signs of varicose and spider veins (Telangiectases). Please understand that these veins only become visible when the skin is suffering from a vascular imbalance.

The intense but targeted heating of intense pulse helps to heal the targeted skin. Some of the pulses are absorbed by the hemoglobin found in the blood of the visible veins. Upon being exposed to a greater amount of intense pulses, hemoglobin undergoes a color change, helping to camouflage the presence of spider veins.

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