IPL, or intense pulsed light, often referred to as a photofacial, is a skin rejuvenation treatment that minimizes sun spots, freckles, redness, and other signs of uneven skin tone and texture.

IPL Overview - Everything You Need to Know

The Skinny

avg. recovery
1 weeks
Laser/Light Therapy
pain factor
$500 - $2100

About the Procedure

Last Updated: 09.22.2021

IPL treatments have become increasingly popular as a noninvasive, no downtime treatment to improve the appearance of skin tone and texture. Unlike ablative laser skin resurfacing treatments, IPL sessions do not cause the skin to peel and flake aggressively. Instead, IPL allows patients to have a more gradual improvement in the skin over several sessions with the added benefit of minimal recovery or side effects. What is IPL? Intense Pulse Light is an in office treatment that typically takes 30 minutes to complete. During treatment, light is used to target uneven pigment and blemishes in the skin. The higher the contrast between the skin and the mark, the more effective the treatment. IPL uses scattered light that penetrates into the dermis without harming the top layer of the skin. This causes less damage than other laser skin resurfacing treatments. The heat created by the IPL device within the pigment cells destroys the unwanted pigment, causing the redness or dark spots to fade away over time. IPL can also be an effective form of hair removal treatment. For best results, multiple IPL sessions will be required with maintenance sessions every 6 months.

The goal of IPL is to reduce the appearance of skin tone and texture irregularities such as sun spots, dark spots, freckles, redness, rosacea, broken capillaries, and certain birthmarks.

Recovery Notes

There is no downtime after an IPL session and most patients are able to resume normal activity immediately after treatment. It is common for patients to experience temporary redness and swelling which typically resolves within 2 days but may last as long as 2 weeks. Avoid intense exercise for 1 day. Avoid unprotected sun exposure for one year to prevent irregular pigmentation.

Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate for IPL has minor skin imperfections such as dark spots, uneven skin tone, or blotchy skin. For best results, blemishes will be a dark contrast from the individual's natural skin complexion.

Not Recommended For

IPL treatments are not recommended for pregnant women, those who have used Accutane in the previous 6 months, or for use on darker skin tones due to risk of hypopigmentation.

Side Effects

Side effects from IPL may include blistering, changes in the skin's pigmentation (including areas of darker or lighter skin), redness, and bruising. These side effects are not common and will typically fade in 2 weeks after treatment if they occur.


  • noninvasive
  • no downtime
  • quick treatment


  • multiple treatments
  • requires upkeep sessions
  • gradual results