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?

Answers (15)

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

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
James Bonaparte, MD, MSc, FRCSC
Ottawa Facial Plastic Surgeon
24 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

IPL and Large Pores

Thank you for asking! This is actually one question that is commonly brought on the table since IPL treatment can help in improving adult acne. Will IPL help in reducing large pores? While IPL is effective in managing acne, it may not be the best and most effective treatment solution for enlarged or large pores. This is because IPL is not a treatment for removing tissues in the skin. Skin tissue removal is the kind of treatment needed to reduce the size of pores. That said, IPL could still contribute to the goal of pore size reduction since it can stimulate collagen production, albeit not the definite treatment that would completely resolve the issue. It may be a better supplement to a better treatment, which is mainly focused on pore size reduction such as laser resurfacing or chemical peels.


To make sure that you will be getting the right treatment for reducing your large or enlarged pores, you may want to seek assistance from a board certified plastic surgeon who can give you several options for treating the issue. Hope this helps!

Large pores

for large pores you need to deal with oil first. Using appropriate cleansers and exfoliation. You can ask your local Spa about this. I had great experience with Image line and we carry them in our office. Then if you have a lighter color Co2 or Erbium resurfacing are best. In my office I provide Co2 laser that is called Smartskin with great results. A good machine that provides Erbium resurfacing is Icon Palomar. The difference is that with Smartskin you do one treatment but has 3-10 days of downtime based on settings used but with Icon you do 3-5 treatments with no downtime.  Chemical peels and microneedling can be used for darker skins. Of note for darker skin Erbium resurfacing is great. Best Parham Gharagozlou MD FACP

Parham Gharagozlou, MD, FACP
Walnut Creek Physician

IPL does minimal for pores, other lasers and RF microneedling work more.

This video covers all the questions regarding pore size. IPL does very little for skin pore size, however after 5-6 treatments, a slight improvement can be seen. IPL is best suited for skin pigmentation, redness, and improving the palate of the skin. For enlarged pores there are better energy devices and lasers. 

I choose a particular laser based upon the size of the pore, skin type of the patient, and expectations.

I find that the most reliable method is with INFINI RF, micron needling using energy. This beats all my Fraxel lasers and chemical peel techniques. Very little downtime, and it is ideal for small to medium size pores.

Chemical peels such as TCA (80-100%) placed focally in the pores is an excellent treatment for large pores.

Pore size reduction treatments should be tailored according to the patient IMO.

Dr Davin Lim
Laser and aesthetic dermatologist
Brisbane, Australia.

Minimizing Pore Size with IPL Treatments

Since the IPL treatments specifically target skin discolorations or facial veins and redness, the overall texture, tone and brightness of the skin is improved after treatments  Skin will appear smoother and eliminate the dull appearance that accentuate pore size.  We like to   combine good topical skin care for cell turnover and exfoliation with  IPL treatments for the best results.
Ronald Moser, MD
San Juan Capistrano Physician

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.

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
Douglas J. Key, MD
Portland Dermatologic Surgeon
15 reviews

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.

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