IPL Treatment Vs IPL Photofacial - What is the Difference?

They are listed as two seperate categories on this site and have very different satisfaction levels

Doctor Answers 10

Can be the same

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IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light IPL is a non-invasive technology that can correct a variety of skin conditions, such as hyper pigmentation, birthmarks, broken capillaries and vascular lesions. Some devices have a photorejuvenation program or different handpiece that can be used to stimulate the collagen production and improve the skin texture. In this case the procedure is considered an IPL Photofacial, or IPL Photorejuvenation.

Only the names are different

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The names are different, the treatment is not. This is a generic name to denote cosmetic treatment of the face with either a laser or an IPL to improve color and texture, and a little collagen stimulation.

IPL vs. Photofacial

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It's interesting that the two categories have very different satisfaction levels on this site, we would not have guessed that.

IPL stands for "Intense Pulsed Light" and the term is generally used to refer to a physical piece of equipment. "Intense Pulsed Light" is the type of light used by these pieces of equipment (there are many different manufacturers.

"Photofacial" (fotofacial) is generally used to describe a light based (laser or IPL) facial treatment to address sun spots, redness or fine lines.

In some cases these terms are used interchangeably (I had an IPL treatment today), but will be able to keep them straight if you just think of a light based piece of equipment as an IPL and a light based treatment as the photofacial.

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

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IPL vs Photofacial

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Both IPL and photofacial are the same treatment.  There are just two different names for the same procedure.

Sam Naficy, MD, FACS
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 231 reviews

IPL and Photofacial are two different terms for the same procedure

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IPL (or Intense Pulse Light) is the more technical term.  Photofacial is the more marketing friendly term.  IPL treatments are light-based not laser-based treatments.  These devices use filters to produce intense pulses of specific wavelengths of light energy to target different lesions on skin such as lentigos (sun spots) or small blood vessels.  This results in destruction of the targeted lesions and improvement of the tone and discoloration of the skin. 

Steven E. Rasmussen, MD, FAAD
Austin Dermatologist

IPL treatment vs. Photofacial

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"IPL" and "photofacial"  are the same and the terms are used interchangeablly.  IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light and the full name is "IPL Photofacial".  Perhaps the difference in category is due to 1 Photofacial or 1 IPL treatment versus a series of IPL Photofacials because they are done in a series of 4-6 treatments.  Some people only have one treatment and they're disappointed.  But that's very different that having one series of treatments (6 treatments), and after finishing their series, they are typically very happy with the results.

Amir Moradi, MD
San Diego Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

IPL treatment vs IPL Photofacial

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The term Fotofacial was introduced by a California dermatologist, Dr. Patrick Bitter.  In a Fotofacial procedure, a series of intense pulsed light (IPL) or broad band light (BBL) treatments are performed to decrease the reds (dilated blood vessels, diffuse redness, rosacea, etc) and browns (freckles, brown spots, sun spots, etc)  in the skin at the same time. 

Intense pulsed light may be used to perform a photofacial or just to decrease redness or brown spots alone, or to decrease unwanted hair.  A photofacial treatment specifies improving the redness and brown spots during the same treatment.

Emily Altman, MD
Short Hills Dermatologic Surgeon

IPL and IPL Photofacial

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The term Photofacial can actually mean just about anything.  Photo meaning light. Facial of the face. So some people will use this for anything from laser resurfacing to nonablative devices. An IPL actually uses light, not a laser, to treat the skin. Photofacials with an IPL can be used to target redness and brown sun spots effectively. Some research suggets that it may also tighten skin but this would be a secondary gain for this type of device. So whether they call it an IPL treatment or IPL photofacial is not so important as to what the goal is and what the target the light is focusing on.  Just be clear what you want treated and your expectations. Lastly, not all IPL systems are created equally.  Some do better at colloing the skin, have multiple size spots that can be interchanged, use different filters to target different problems and are powered differently. In my office one of the best devices for IPL is called the BBL by Sciton. We can have nice results with little risk of complications. As always do your research and dont get too caught up in advertisements and catchy terms since they can be confusing.

Shawn Allen, MD
Boulder Dermatologist

The difference is in the technology, not the name

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IPL and IPL photofacial are used interchangeably, but there are vast differences in the power of various machines. In my experience (I have been doing IPL since 1999), the Ellipse and Lumenis devices give better results. It is best to discuss the options with your dermatologist, providing they have experience. You can also use the physician finder on company web sites, but be sure the doctors have other credentials, not just that they bought a machine. Good luck.

Mary P. Lupo, MD
New Orleans Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

IPL Vs. Photofacial Treatment

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IPL, which stands for Intense Pulsed Light treatment, is the same as a photofacial. The name photofacial is used more as a marketing term for the same procedure. An IPL Photofacial will treat sun damage, rosacea, age spots, wrinkles, and more. 

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.