Is IPL Effective for Reducing Enlarged Pores?

I have large pores and am looking for a way to make them smaller or at least less noticeable? Do you think IPL would work?

Doctor Answers 11

IPL does not affect pore size.

First of all, pore size is related to oil production, and although this is affected by other factors, it is primarily determined by one’s genetics. Individuals who are genetically “programmed” to produce more oil will naturally have a larger pore size. Therefore, having larger pores does not necessarily mean that the pores are “enlarged.” However, pores may become even larger over time if they have been stretched by prolonged congestion with oil and debris. For this reason, it is important for persons with oilier skin to utilize products such as salicylic acid and retinoic acid that will control oil buildup in the pores, as well as received regular professional treatments that involve extraction of the pores.

Having said that, IPL treatments are actually not effective treatment for reducing enlarged pores. The best way to treat enlarged pores once is to remove the upper layers of the skin while also stimulating deeper cellular renewal. IPL treatments do not have much of an effect on the more superficial layers of skin as it does not remove skin tissue. It does have some benefit in terms of collagen stimulation, and therefore could have some effect on pore size, but it would definitely not be the treatment of choice for this condition. Both chemical and laser resurfacing can provide this benefit. If a patient who presents enlarged pores is still experiencing oily skin, I will generally recommend chemical peels. This is especially true for a patient with an acneic condition. This is because chemical peels will offer the added benefit of balancing oil and controlling acne conditions. In this way, we are treating both the symptom and the cause. I may use a series of six or more SkinMedica Vitalize or Rejuvenize peels, or a shorter series of two or three Obagi Blue Peels. For a patient who no longer has oily skin, but has enlarged pores from a past condition, laser resurfacing may provide a faster result, and would be the preferred method. I believe, and research has shown, that the CO2 laser provides the best results with optimal safety for laser resurfacing. This is the laser that we use in our clinic.

Be Careful about promises for pore tightening

Pore tightening is one of the most advertised benefits of everything from over-the-counter rejuvenating creams to light treatments to lasers.

The truth is that it can be very difficult to shrink pore size. As with many issues that require skin tightening, permanent shrinkage of pores requires an aggressive treatment. To get the job done you should look for either a fractional CO2 (Lumenis Total Fx) or a fully ablative CO2 laser. These are not easy procedures in that they require 1-2 weeks of healing but it gets the job done. If you are hoping to shrink only a few pores then it is not the treatment for you.

As a side note, if there are only a few pores to reduce then there is an alternative using focal acid peels.

Edgar Franklin Fincher, MD, PhD
Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Does IPL affect pore size?

This question is asked alot. 

IPL DOES affect Acne and can help improve acne. I recently wrote a blog that reviewed the scientific evidence assessing numerous beneftis and drawbacks of IPL (you can click the link to it below). 

IPL is thought to work on acne by doing two things. (1) it can reduce the redness associated with outbreaks by targeting the red pigment in your skin. (2) It is thought to actually kill the bacteria that can cause acne. Perhaps pore size is slightly effected indirectly for a short time. IPL works by heating certain tissues in the skin and this heating "may" slightly and temporarily reduce pore size, but that is just a guess on my part. 

In the end, IPL has great benefits but pore size is a controversial one. 

James P. Bonaparte, MD, MSc, FRCSC
JB Cosmetics and Facial Surgery Center of Ottawa
Head and Neck Surgery
practicing in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

James Bonaparte, MD, MSc, FRCSC
Ottawa Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

IPL for pore size reduction

In my experience (with Lumenis an BTL IPLs, and some other IPL brands as demos) no, even a lot of IPL manufacturers promise pore improvement. What improves more the pore size are retinoids and azelaic acid, together with fractional laser, which I offer in my practice.

Alberto de la Fuente Garcia, MD
Mexico Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

IPL for Reducing Pores

The answer here is not a definite yes or no, but a sometimes yes, IPL can help to reduce pore size.The benefits of IPL treatment (which stands for Intense Pulsed Light or the other name is Broad Band Light or BBL) are generally for reducing unwanted redness or pigmentation. We also see improvement in terms of pore size, they become smaller and the skin has increased luster, brightness and clarity.

Douglas J. Key, MD
Portland Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

IPL does not reduce pore size.

IPL works great for pigmentation, such as sun damage, melasma, rosacea, broken blood vessels, cherry angiomas, freckles and birth marks. To reduce the size of your pores you need laser resurfacing, such as Fraxel Restore laser and it may take 3-5 treatments for the best results. Once you complete the fraxel treatments to maintain the results we always recommend a good skin care regimen such as Obagi Nu- Derm system with Retin-A.

IPL does not affect pore size

IPL treatment is not a great option for reducing pore size.  Other options that may help with pore size include full CO2 laser resurfacing or fractional CO2 laser.   

Sam Naficy, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Q-switched Lasers for reducing pore size

We do not use IPL for reducing pore size. In fact, of all the lasers that we have at our practice (we use more than 20), we have found that the best one for reducing pore size is the q-switched Hoya Conbio Medlite C6. In conducting trials related to Melasma treatment with the Medlite C6, we have noticed a tremendous improvement in the texture of the skin. This included greatly reduced pore size after 4-6 high energy Medlite treatments over a 4 week period.

In addition to the Medlite laser treatments, any continued and prolonged exfoliation techniques such as glycolic acid products, Retin A, Microdermabrasion and even manual soap scrubs will help remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin and improve pore size.

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Active FX is much better for reducing pore size

IPL is not great for reducing the pore size. The pore size is determined by our genetics, and it usually gets worse with age.

On the brighter size, as I tell all of my patients: Everybody thinks they have huge pores. Everybody, even people with tiny pores. In reality, most people have reasonable size pores, and nobody else notices your pore size other than you.

In rare instances that they are indeed large, fractional CO2 laser, like Active FX, is probably the best option to reduce them. It might require more than one treatment, and we usually space them about once every 6 months.

Stella Desyatnikova, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

IPL for enlarged pores

Yes, IPL can help rejuvenate the complexion by tightening the pores. The technology boosts the production of collagen, enabling the skin to become firmer and smoother and your pores will gradually become smaller.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.