IPL vs. Laser: What’s the Difference?

If you ever thought that taking care of your skin was unimportant, think again—your skin is your body’s largest organ! Even when you are comfortable and confident in it, it can quickly begin to make you look older than you feel. Your skin faces daily exposure to factors that can lead to dark spots or discoloration, fine lines and other issues that can age your appearance. For both men and women, it is worthwhile to seek out treatments that can help reverse the hands of time. When you do, Intense Pulsed Light Therapy™ (IPL™) and laser treatment options are likely to arise as two of the most common treatment options.

While these two treatments might seem similar at first glance, there are actually key differences between the two procedures.

What is IPL™?

IPL™ stands for Intense Pulsed Light™ therapy, a procedure that utilizes high energy light pulses from multiple wavelengths to penetrate the upper levels of skin and stimulate collagen production in lower levels of skin. Collagen production can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and improve the overall texture of the skin, as it gives the skin a more plump, youthful appearance. Since IPL treats upper and lower layers of skin, it provides results that appear immediately and continue to improve over time.

IPL Treats Skin Pigmentation

IPL™ also works to minimize the appearance of dark spots or pigmentation issues. Dark spots or brown spots are a product of the skin’s natural production of brown pigment, or melanin, which occurs in the deeper levels of the skin. IPL™ light pulses are able to break melanin down into small particles which are then able to rise to the surface of the skin. When these particles reach the skin’s surface, they will either flake off or dissipate through lymphatic drainage. 

What to Expect During Your IPL Treatment

IPL™ is completed in the comfort of our office and it offers results with minimal-to-no downtime. Because it utilizes multiple wavelengths of light, IPL™ treatments are less concentrated, which means less downtime compared to what is expected from traditional laser resurfacing treatments. Most patients can expect minor redness and a rough-feeling texture in treated areas in the following days after IPL™ treatment.

IPL™ Therapy is able to target multiple areas in one treatment, and Harmony Healing offers multiple forms of IPL™ to target specific areas of the body and concerns ranging from pigmentation to fine lines. Our treatments are always custom-tailored to suit your unique skin type and address your individual concerns. Our goal is to help you achieve your desired result in as few treatments as possible. 

What Are Laser Treatments?

Most of our patients are familiar with laser skin resurfacing treatments, but often confuse them with IPL™. When you hear “laser skin resurfacing,” you might think that there is only one laser that treats multiple skin conditions. However, “laser skin resurfacing” is actually an umbrella term that is used to describe treatments that utilize lasers—an energy device that delivers a specific, strong wavelength of light. This focused wavelength, rather than a broader spectrum of wavelengths, is one major difference from IPL™ treatment options, and because it is a more focused wavelength, laser therapy excels at treating targeted areas and issues.

Treats a Wide Variety of Conditions 

Laser treatments are able to penetrate deeper layers of skin, triggering the growth of new collagen, while also working on the surface of the skin. Laser treatments can treat a variety of conditions, including fine lines and wrinkles, sagging skin, irregular pigmentation, sun damage, acne scarring and more. When compared to IPL™, laser therapy is often recommended to treat more prominent scarring or to provide more dramatic results.

What to Expect During Your Laser Treatment 

Laser treatments are also conducted in the comfort of our office and patients typically benefit from a topical numbing cream prior to treatment. Following a laser treatment, patients can expect a slightly longer downtime than IPL™, including minor swelling and a warm feeling to the skin. Harmony Healing offers many forms of laser treatment to reduce the appearance of fine lines, to tighten the skin, to improve skin texture and to address dark spots or hyperpigmentation.

Choosing IPL™ or Laser Treatment

When deciding between IPL™ and laser treatments, it is important to have an open conversation about goals, downtime and lifestyle with your care provider in order to select the best option for your needs. 

Harmony Healing proudly offers multiple IPL™ and laser therapy treatments and offers high-quality, individualized and compassionate care for our patients.

Contact our office to schedule an appointment and start seeing healthier skin today!