Intense Pulsed Light Therapy: What is it?

face of woman with glowing skin to illustrate intense pulsed light therapy
Medically Reviewed
January 30, 2023

What if there were a way of restoring your skin from sun damage using light? That’s what Intense Pulsed Light therapy (IPL) is all about!

IPL therapy is also called photofacial, from “photo” meaning “light” – and it’s a powerful non-invasive therapy that

  • evens out your skin,
  • improves its color and texture, and
  • dramatically reduces the damage of too much exposure to the sun.

It’s not all about sun damage, though. If you’ve been struggling with rosacea, melasma, or spider veins, etc., you’ve found the solution to your problems!

Skin pigmentation? Vascular lesions? Wanting to fight photoaging and get back the glow of youth? Keep reading to learn all you need to know about Intense Pulsed Light therapy!

What is IPL Therapy?

It’s no news that overexposure to the sun may damage your health in many ways. From sunburn to skin cancer, the consequences of not protecting your skin from excessive sunlight will eventually affect your health and probably your self-esteem as well.

One of the first signs you may notice if you’ve been exposed to the sun long term is the arrival of brown spots on your face, chest, hands, and other body parts.

And that’s what IPL therapy treats. But how?

As the name implies, it uses photothermolysis or light energy.

Your dermatologist uses a handheld device to deliver multiple wavelengths of light directly into your skin to target the area that needs treatment (see below for other skin conditions IPL treats).

The pigmented cells absorb the light and turn it into heat. When the heat reaches these unwanted cells, it breaks them down, and your body gets rid of them naturally.

The result is a uniform skin complexion.

Main Benefits and Uses

One benefit is that Intense Pulsed Light therapy has proven effective in treating hyperpigmentation, vascular lesions, wrinkles, and hair removal, improving your skin’s appearance, color, and texture.

Another benefit is the procedure is simple, requires no downtime, and the results may last for years if you take good care of your skin and protect it from further sun damage.

Some of the main skin conditions IPL can also address include:

  • Rosacea
  • Melasma
  • Freckles
  • Birthmarks
  • Fine wrinkles
  • Age spots
  • Acne
  • Varicose veins
  • Sun damage
  • Broken blood vessels
  • Hair removal or prevention from growing

What to Expect Before, During, and After the Treatment?

After consultation, your medical provider will determine the length and the number of sessions you need. The protocol depends on your skin type, damage, and the condition you want to treat. But doctors usually recommend starting with 2 to 5 sessions every 3 or 4 weeks.


Your doctor will advise you to avoid the following for one month before the procedure starts:

  • Sun exposure or tanning
  • Collagen injections and chemical peels
  • Waxing


During treatment, your doctor delivers a bright flash of light to your skin from the handheld device we mentioned. This can cause you a pinching sensation.

Your provider may offer you a numbing gel or a local anesthetic to relieve any discomfort.

You will also need to wear dark glasses during sessions to protect your eyes from the light.

Your provider will also ask you not to wear perfume or deodorant immediately before and after therapy and avoid taking aspirin or other medications that may contribute to the risk of bleeding.


You may experience redness and slight skin warming right after the treatment. This is normal and should only last for a day or two. If the sunburn sensation is bothering you, ice packs help relieve the discomfort.

Your dark spots may get darker over the first 24-48 hours following IPL therapy. Don’t panic! It’s just a sign that the treatment is working.

Within one week, the pigmented lesions flake off, revealing your even, glowing skin tone.

If your treatment targets vascular lesions, you may see the vein blanchand disappear, or a color change in the vessel. This dissipates after a few days.

Take good care of your skin while it’s healing. This includes:

  • Keeping it clean and moisturized
  • Not wearing make-up for at least a week
  • Protecting it from the sun with sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30

If you follow your doctor’s advice, you’ll likely notice a significant improvement in your skin just a few days after your first session, and it only gets better with continued treatment.

How Long Does IPL Therapy Last?

IPL therapy is gradual. This means that multiple sessions get you even better results – your skin will continue to look younger and more brilliant over time, with the most visible results within 1 to 2 weeks after each session.

After that, you can have follow-up treatments once or twice a year to maintain your youthful and brighter look.

Safety, Effectiveness, and Risks

When performed by a trained medical provider, IPL therapy is safe – but it’s not suitable for everybody.

For example, if you’re pregnant, nursing, or have some severe skin disorder or cancer, you should not get IPL treatment.

On the other hand, if you have white or light brown skin, you may get better results.

As with any treatment, IPL can carry potential side effects, including:

  • Bruising
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Skin discoloration
  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • Bleeding
  • Crusting

Talk to your doctor if these symptoms persist more than 2-5 days following the treatment.

Love the Skin You’re In with IPL Lumecca Therapy at Nava Health

If you’re ready to get brightened, more even, and younger-looking skin, let’s talk! At Nava Health, we use the most powerful Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy to treat your pigmented skin cells and vascular lesions – LumeccaTM by In-ModeTM. Have a look at In-Mode’s brief video showing it in action!

After just one session of Lumecca, you’ll notice significant improvements in your complexion and the clarity of your skin. That’s because it works even faster than usual intense light therapy.

So – now you know what IPL is, don’t let photoaging or other skin conditions affect your self-esteem and health! Schedule a consultation with a Nava dermatologist today and learn how Intense Pulsed Light treatment can help you overcome your skin problems.

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Article Name
Intense Pulsed Light Therapy: What is it?
Skin pigmentation, acne, or sun damage bothering you? Learn how Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPLT) can bring you a youthful, brighter complexion.