IPL or Active FX For Mild Acne Scars, Fine Lines and Enlarged Pores? (photo)

I am 33 light skin, oily, mild acne scars, fine lines, enlarged pores. I went to an office yesterday in regards to Laser. Didn't see a doctor, but a consultant (red flag?), and she recommended IPL. Really am interested in Active FX as reviews of IPL bad effects are scary. Thought, suggestions?

Doctor Answers 6

Fractional lasers and devices for acne scarring

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the current best treatment for acne scars is some sort of fractional device. the choices are fractional erbium (like sciton profractional), fractional carbon dioxide (like active fx), fractional ysgg or fractional radiofrequency (like ematrix). they all can get excellent results - the most important variable is the experience of the person doing the procedure. IPL's are great for pigment but not the best for acne scars.

Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Laser for acne

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This is a great question and one that is frequently asked.  There are many different types of lasers out there... so they can get quite confusing.  Simply put, if you are trying to change the skin texture or tone, then a fractionated ablative laser (like the CO2 laser.. Active/DeepFX) is the laser of choice.  Active FX refers to how lightly the laser is applied to the skin.  The deeper the resurfacing, the better the result but with more downtime and side effects.  Active FX is a light CO2 laser resurfacing.  The same laser can go much deeper with improved results (DeepFX).  Both of these techniques should be done by a physician.

Nonablative, or light based therapies, are much less effective for skin texture. IPL is only for sun spots or broken capillaries.  It will not treat acne or skin texture.  

Henry Daniel Sandel IV, MD
Annapolis Facial Plastic Surgeon

Options for acne scars

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IPL is not effetive for acne scarring. Usually ablative lasers can help with that. I use a Thermascan laser for the enalrged pores and it helps active acne as well.  I consider erbium laser resurfacing for acne scarring as well as LaViv to improve the deep pits.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Acne scars and laser

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Non ablative lasers can improve acne scars by treating the dermal layer of the skin without removing the top layer or epidermis. Lasers include the ResurFX, Fraxel, Erbium:Yag. Ablative lasers remove the epidermis and dermis by placing fractional channels through the skin. Lasers include the Lumenis CO2 active and deep FX as well as the Syneron Candela CO2RE laser.

Jose E. Barrera, MD, FACS
San Antonio Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

ActiveFX is the better option

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Of the 2 modalities you mentioned, ActiveFX, superficial, ablative, fractional CO2 resurfacing is the better option for best results in improving mild acne scars, fine lines and improving texture to help with pore reduction. 

The UltraPulse Fractional CO2 Laser used for ActiveFX, DeepFX and TotalFX treatments provides versatile, customizable resurfacing treatment for a range of skin conditions, including those you wish to improve.


I would recommend that you consult with a provider that is well versed with this or similar procedure so that you can discuss the treatment, recovery, risks, etc.

Fraxel not IPL for lines, pores and acne scars

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the IPL will not effectively improve acne scars or fine lines. It treats well, the brown sun spots and redness of blood vessels, but Fraxel Restore is much better in treating the acne scars. Depending on where the fine lines are located, such as the ones not related to muscle contraction (crows feet), if they are on the mid cheek, Fraxel can help those lines significantly. I can't comment on the success of Fraxel vs. Active FX, as I don't have personal experience with Active FX , but Fraxel Restore and Fraxel Repair have been the Pioneers with fractional resurfacing and have provided excellent results with great safety.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 39 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.