Why is It Important to Avoid IPL Laser on a Mole (During Hair Removal)?

Can IPL laser turn a benign mole into melanoma? If not, why do I read that IPL laser should be avoided on a mole?

Doctor Answers 4

Avoiding Moles During IPL

It is important to avoid treating a mole during IPL hair removal because when the clinical studies were done, and I did the original ones in the 1990s, this was part of the protocol and thus became part of the product label or description. We don’t treat over moles routinely, but in reality we all do. The skin in the affected area needs to be evaluated, and any suspicious lesions need to be evaluated by a board-certified dermatologist before the IPL procedure.

Nashville Dermatologic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

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.

F. Victor Rueckl, MD
Las Vegas Dermatologist
4.6 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

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.

Pamela Carr, MD
Sugar Land Dermatologic Surgeon
3.7 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

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

Kenneth Dembny, II, MD
Milwaukee Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 34 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.