Why is it that IPL can cause burns to the skin? Isn't there a maximum setting that is tolerable for skin? It's pretty incredible that IPL settings can be configured high enough to cause serious burns.. It seems like the device wasn't designed with the skin in mind. Have the max settings ever been used successfully on someone? Does it depend on the individual? Can IPL really be set to dangerous levels? Does the same apply to Fraxel?
Why Can IPL Burns Happen?
Doctor Answers 6
Why do IPL burns happen
IPL can burn, yes, but there's much more to it. There are many things you have to think about. First, there are different skin types, five if you're using the Fitzpatrick rating scale, and the machines have to be able to work on all of these skin types. So while a person with skin type 1, may be able to handle settings X, a person with skin type 5, would have an insane, serious, permanent burn from that level. Second, training is key. My office has performed 150,000 treatments. We try to be conservatively aggressive. We try to give you the maximum results (which you are paying for and people want to see!), with the highest settings we can do without harming any of your skin. This is an art, and it requires a vast amount of training and skill. Not everyone is good at it, and people absolutely overtreat because they are trying to maximize your results in a minimum amount of time. I refuse to treat this way. I'd rather do a treatment at no charge in the end than overtreat at treatment 2 and have a patient burned. Third, there are specifics that have to be done during a treatment, and done correctly. Most often, there is an ultrasound gel applied to the skin to keep the IPL head from actually touching directly, it's called floating the IPL head. If you have too much gel, or not enough gel, that's not good either, and that can result in burns. This again, comes with skill and practice. Fourth, there are literally thousands of IPL machines on the market. Some are much more advanced than others. This requires more specifics for each patient's settings, but it gives better results. There can be different pulse lengths (the amount of time the energy takes to get into the skin - long vs. short pulse), different light and energy settings to drive the IPL in, and other factors. If you don't know what you're doing, yes, the settings are overwhelming and then dangerous. Fifth, the best machines cost literally hundreds of thousands of dollars. They are designed to give the technicians options for treatment, but they should never be used by inexperienced people, or set the same for everyone. IPL can absolutely be dangerous - in the wrong hands! All light and laser treatments can be done incorrectly, so yes, while different because the idea is different, Fraxel can have just as many issues.
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Thank you for your question. All lasers have the possibility of producing side effects, even burns and scarring when treated in the wrong candidates and in the wrong hands. IPL is a laser/light treatment that is generally very safe and works well with light skin types and on specific settings. Every treatment must be individualized to the patient, their skin type, their condition, etc. I would recommend being treated under the supervision of a Board Certified Dermatologist or Plastic Surgeon for safest and best treatment option. I hope this helps.
IPL laser can be a great device to use for pigmentation when used appropriately. Make sure you see a provider that uses the laser on a regular basis. They will determine what laser settings to use based on your skin type.
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Devices Can Be Used Inappropriately
Why IPL burns happen
IPL burns can happen for a variety of reasons, including the skin type of the individual, and most importantly if the person has a tan (high risk of burn). Also, ofcourse, the skills of the operator of any laser or light based device are critical, so ensure your treatments are performed at a medically-supervised office or clinic. Buyer beware (e.g. we regularly see burns from hair salons performing lasers), you get what you pay for out there.