IPL for Sunspot Removal?

Are Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) systems such as Prolite II okay to use for sunspot removal?

Doctor Answers 4

IPL is a great treatment for sun spots

IPL is a great treatment for sun spots, as long as you are otherwise an appropriate candidate for the procedure. Good candidates for this treatment are patients with a light to medium-dark skin tone and superficial hyperpigmentation.

IPL is not an appropriate treatment for melasma, which is a deeper type of hyperpigmentation that can be worsened by the heat of an IPL, so it is important that you get professional clarification on the type of pigmentation that is presenting on your skin. If you have a darker skin type, you may want to consider an alternative treatment such as a series of chemical peels and/or a topical prescription. Some machines have been designed to offer treatment parameters that are safer for darker skin, but they may decrease effectiveness or require more treatments, and there may still be an increased risk of complications, so be sure to discuss this issue with your provider if you fall into this category.

Generally, a series of treatments are needed in order to achieve your optimal improvement, but the rate of success and patient satisfaction is high. It is important to be aware that you must strictly avoid the sun and tanning when undergoing a series of IPL treatments.

Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 101 reviews

Sun spot treatment with intense pulsed light (IPL,etc.)


Intense Pulsed Light treatments have been effective for sun damage pigmentation on the face, neck, hands, arms, and other areas. A few treatments are usually scheduled, with additional improvement noted each time. Sun protection is important, and some pigment may return gradually, and benefit from retreatment.

Choose an experienced laser operator, under the supervision of a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

Sutton Graham II, MD
Greenville Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Absolutely. IPL is the perfect choice for lentigo / sun spot removal.

Thanks for your question.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is an excellent treatment for lentigo/sunspot removal and in many circles, it is considered a first choice treatment. There are many different IPL systems on the market and most do an excellent job. You will need 1-3 treatments to get rid of most of your sunspots. After each treatment, you will notice the sunspots getting darker and then flaking off. It is important to not touch the crusting and allow the natural peeling process to occur.

To get the best results, it is important to avoid sun exposure 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after your IPL treatment, and to wear sunscreen throughout the entire course of treatment. I'm not familiar with the Prolite II system, but if it works as a true IPL, then it should work out well for you.

Good luck!

Don Mehrabi, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Defintitely Yes

IPL is a very effective and popular (as judged by its 77% worth it rating on real self) modality for treating sunspots.

The light from the IPL turns from light energy into heat energy. It targets a specific chromophore (color) in the skin. The wavelengths used in this particular IPL, targets the coloring of the melanin and destroys it.

Usually a package is purchased. Each treatment is done a little more aggressively than before and the spots are lifted off. A few days later the brown spots turn into little coffee ground type material.

Experience helps tremendously. I have had two patients come in with bar marks on their arms and face. This is a correcable problem but both patients were quite distressed until the problem ws remedied.

I would advise you to be careful with some of the medi-spa type chains. Not only did those two patients come from such a facility, but another time when a patient had a rather severe laser burn, the spa was not able to reach the "medical director" ( not a plastic surgeon or dermatologist) and he never did show me the courtesy of calling me back. Another anecdote, is that one of my patients told me that her daughter was hired as a secretary at a "medi-spa" . One day one of the technicians called in sick, they had a busy schedule, the secretary was quickly instructed how to use the IPL machine and spent the rest of the day administering treatments. I am not sure if this is the experience you really would want.

Arnold R. Oppenheim, MD
Virginia Beach Dermatologist
4.7 out of 5 stars 14 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.