IPL Laser Risks & Safety

Is there any chance of IPL causing skin cancer or other problems in 10 or 15 years?

Doctor Answers 9

IPL Safety

Great question and the answer is NO! IPL does not cause nor can it cause skin cancer. Let me answer why. IPL or Intense Pulsed Light, is broad band light or BBL. This is a mixture of yellow, green and blue light, but there is no ultraviolet light at all in IPL. Therefore, DNA within cells is not damaged. This is the scientific answer, but there is another answer. IPL has been used in treatment for now over 20 years so we have the long test of time as well.

Portland Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 12 reviews


IPL is not radiation therapy, in fact its light that is focused with different wavelengths. In fact, in some cases, having IPL with very sundamaged skin can help us diagnose skin cancers. How? IPL can remove brown discolouration and uneven skin texture, and help uncover or unmask skin cancers hiding under the sundamage. 

Dr Davin Lim
Laser Dermatologist
Brisbane, Australia

Davin Lim, MBBS, FACD
Brisbane Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Is IPL Laser Safe?

IPL treatments have been studied for many years and there have not been any studies to indicate that IPL causes cancer. The light from IPL is different from sunlight in that IPL does not contain UVA or UVB light rays which are associated with increased risk of skin cancer. IPL treatments are primarily utilized to treat sun damage by reducing brown spots, broken blood vessels and improving skin tone and texture.

Scott Chapin, MD, FACS
Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

IPL Treatments Not Shown to Cause Skin Cancer or Other Problems

IPL devices have been around for 22-23 years. I did the original research studies on them. They are safe and will not cause cancer.

Michael Gold, MD
Nashville Dermatologic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Not With IPL

As dermatologists, using light treatment to treat a variety of skin diseases, this question comes up frequently. However, our worries are with the ultraviolet light spectrum not the visible light wavelengths in which the IPL devices are found. Thus, we worry about UVA and UVB light when we utilize it for treating psoriasis, eczema, vitiligo etc. These wavelengths certainly do cause skin cancer and we weigh the benefits of light treatment against the risks. Cosmetic uses of such light to obtain a tan, shows no medical benefit at all and this is the reason we wail against tanning beds.

Visible light has no carcinogenic properties that we know of. Otherwise we would be recommending our patients become cave dwellers.

Arnold R. Oppenheim, MD
Virginia Beach Dermatologist
4.5 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Safety of Intense Pulse Light

There is no evidence to suggest that IPL is carcinogenic. IPL typically uses wavelengths of scattered light that are between 500-1500 nm, out of the spectrum of typical UV A and B light.

Stephen Prendiville, MD
Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 68 reviews

IPL and Skin Cancers

I am NOT aware of any studies that have reported an association between IPL and skin cancers. Part of the reason may be that when performing IPL or BBL (by Sciton) we use filters that specifically allow only certain wavelengths through based on the targets in the skin we want to reach and most of these targets are in the Yellow to Red visible spectrum NOT the Ultraviolet spectrum associated with skin cancers.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 85 reviews

IPL long-term safety?

This type of technology has been around since the early 1990's. I'm guessing but I'll bet there have been 100,000's of treatments. I do not know of any reports of this technology causing cancer. The technology is designed to block out harmful light energy. Most patients receive a limited series of treatments so "chronic" use should not be an issue. So far, this technology has a lot of up sides and no evidence of causing cancer.

Michael Kulick, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
2.5 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Lasers have been around for 2 decades....

Lasers have been used for the past 2 decades very safely by dermatologists. At this time there are no studies which have been conducted relating IPL to skin cancer. The UV rays from the sun and tanning salons pose far greater risks for skin cancer. 

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.