Is IPL Treatment Painful?

Does IPL hurt to have done?

Doctor Answers 22

Is IPL Painful?

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In 2014, IPL treatments should be comfortable for most people. In the old days, a great deal of energy was needed to deliver the light energy deep enough into the skin for it to have an effect. By changing how this energy is delivered — we call it squaring of the pulse — the amount of energy used today is much less than ever used before. This is now true on those IPL devices which are modern, from legitimate companies, and from those experienced users the pain has been taken care of for most.

Also, the cooling apparatuses now used are much more sophisticated, giving an even more comfortable treatment experience. You should always have these treatments done at an office of a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon, and check with them on which machine they are using. Make sure it is one of the newer models with a squared pulse: Lumenis One, Lumenis M22 and Alma Harmony are some of these devices in 2014.

Nashville Dermatologic Surgeon
3.9 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Minimizing pain associated with IPL

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IPL (intense pulsed light) or photofacial laser treatment can be painful depending on the type of laser machine that your doctor has. Discomfort can be minimized with numbing cream followed by Saran wrap to be applied 45-60 minutes prior to IPL treatment.

William Ting, MD
Bay Area Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

IPL pain

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We've heard and answered this question many times with our new patients. While the industry standard answer is that it feels like a rubber band snapping on the face, we like Dr. Hedden's description a bit better. Hot grease splatter is a pretty accurate description. Variations in the pain level can be attributed to the individual pain tolerance, gender (men are bigger babies), condition being treated, device being used and the treatment settings.

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

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IPL can be painful

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Yes, IPL can be uncomfortable at the time of treatment. Some people attribute it to hot grease popping out on you. IPL has been described to feel like a bad sunburn after the initital treatment.Redness and irritation usually last only a couple of hours with the help of topical hydrocortisone1% applied immediately after. Chemical peel at a light percentage can also treat pigmented areas.

William J. Hedden, MD
Birmingham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 334 reviews

Depends on your sensitivity level

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With every burst of energy delivered by the IPL device, you may feel something like a rubber band snapping against your skin. This may be painful depending on your sensitivity level. Numbing cream may be applied beforehand to reduce discomfort.

Is IPL Painful

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IPL is a very effective and tolerable treatment. The sensation IPL is most compared to is an elastic band with a little bit of heat.
IPL is not supposed to be unbearable.. but you should feel something when undergoing treatment. Make sure the technician is certified and does all the necessary tests prior to your treatment..i.e Fitzpatrick skin test, and spot test to ensure that you are a good candidate for IPL

Teanoosh Zadeh, MD, FRCSC
Montreal Plastic Surgeon

IPL treatment

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Undergoing IPL / BBL treatments should not cause significant discomfort.  We do not use any topical anesthetic for patients undergoing these treatments alone as they tolerate the procedure very well with only the use of refrigerated gel and a gentle breeze with a fan in the room.  The addition of topical anesthetic actually decreases the safety factor of the treatment as the patient is not able to give feedback to the provider on how their skin feels during the course of the treatment.  

I use the Sciton Joule platform to perform Broad Band Light treatments and this device provides excellent results with a large sapphire crystal to cool and protect the epidermis appropriately.

Best Regards,

Jacque P. LeBeau, MD

Jacque P. LeBeau, MD
Pensacola Facial Plastic Surgeon

Minimizing discomfort during IPL treatment

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Treatment with IPL feels like a cool rubber band snap.  Some patients are able to tolerate this well, but for those that find it painful, topical numbing cream can be used that can make the procedure completely painless.  

Donald B. Yoo, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 64 reviews

IPL does not need to hurt

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IPL treatments feel like a quick snappy sting but with the application of cold gel and blowing of cold air you scarcely feel anything.  Seek a provider who uses the cold gel and Zimmer cold air.

Martie Gidon, MD, FRCPC
Toronto Dermatologist

IPL Pain

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Often times patients describe IPL treatment as a hot rubber-band snap to the skin.  In our office, we use topical numbing cream prior to the IPL treatment.  This along with gel and cool blown air are very helpful in decreasing the discomfort associated with the treatment. 

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