Can IPL laser turn a benign mole into melanoma? If not, why do I read that IPL laser should be avoided on a mole?
Why is It Important to Avoid IPL Laser on a Mole (During Hair Removal)?
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Avoiding Moles During IPL
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IPL is attracted to pigment
IPL is attracted to color, which is why it works to resolve red and brown pigments in skin. Because moles have a concentrated amount of color, applying an IPL over it may target the color and drive the light hard into the skin. In the worst cases this could result in a superficial burn. IPL cannot cause melanoma, period, or turn a benign mole into a cancer.
Avoiding moles with IPL
The target for IPL treatment is pigment. The wavelengths of light used target red and brown pigment. If a pigmented mole were treated with IPL the color would lighten although the substance of the mole itself would remain. If it is the goal to remove a mole then a surgical removal and submission of the tissue to pathology would be recommended. Seemingly benign moles may in fact be melenomas. Any suspicious pigmented lesions should be removed and studied under the microscope.
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IPL Does Not Turn a Pigmented Mole Into Melanoma
Just to clarify, the term intense pulsed light (IPL) laser is confusing because an IPL light source is not a laser. An IPL source and a laser light source are two different modalities. IPL is a broad spectrum light source that contains multiple wavelengths of light. Filters can be used to focus the majority of light near a certain wavelength to provide specific treatment benefits. A laser, by contrast, is composed of a single wavelength of light.
Both IPL and lasers may be used for hair removal. IPL sources clustered in the upper 755-800nm range are used for hair removal. Alexandrite lasers (755nm) Diode lasers (800nm), and Nd:YAG lasers (1064nm) are also used for hair removal.
IPL will not cause a mole to undergo malignant transformation. On may choose not to use IPL on a mole if there is concern that IPL will alter the appearance of the mole and thereby affect the ability to monitor it.
Best wishes, Kenneth Dembny
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