Are Multiple Treatments Necessary?

I did the IPL last month and didn't see much difference. Will additional treatments improve my face?

Doctor Answers 9

IPL--Always plan on a series

We always advise patients the IPL/Photofacial will require multiple treatments.  If the desired result was achieved after only one treatment I would be amazed (and thrilled!)  Most patients undergo 3-5 treatments in series, about 3-4 weeks apart.  That being said, the results from a treatment series are not time progresses new sun spots and damage will almost certainly appear and if redness/Rosacea and capillaries are your concern, those too will return with time and IPL is just a great tool for helping to improve it temporarily or keep it at bay.


Dr. Grant Stevens            

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 145 reviews


Most lasers do require 3 to 5 treatments to get the best results. Although every patient is different with different needs. Your skin type, amount of sun damage, if you have broken capillaries --all have a lot to do with how many you need. Some people will need more treatments than others to achieve what they want. Even though with one treatment you did not see anything on the surface, underneath the collagen has been stimulated to heal and improve your skin.

At least 3 IPLs are needed to get the best improvement that you can get. Usually the treatments will decrease the pigment, broken capillaries & give color balance to your skin significantly. It can usually be enough stimulation to the collagen to increase the smoothness in your texture and decrease fine lines, soften wrinkles and have some pore closure.

You will see improvement after each treatment but within a few months after your last treatment your skin may have a fresh, youthful, dewy look to it.

After you have the first series of 3 to 5 treatments, you can maintain this healthy state of your skin by having one every 3 to 6 months.
As with all lasers you need to continue the treatments to maintain your healthy skin and to try to stay ahead of the aging process. J

Also, the IPL may not be the laser of choice for you. There are others such as fractionals, skin tighteners, etc. It is best to have a consult with your provider about which laser you would get the most out of.

Amir Moradi, MD
San Diego Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

IPL is effective, but a series of treatments is needed


IPL usually works very nicely at making uneven skin tones (dyschromia) more even.  It also works very well for typical sun and aging spots (lentigos).

A series of treatments is needed. We usually recommend a series of 3 treatments separated by 4-6 weeks.

As with any treatment to improve the appearance of the skin,  it is essential to protect against additional ongoing sun damage.  That means daily sunscreen, hat, sunglasses...

Best wishes,

Mark Lucarelli, MD, FACS

Madison, WI

Mark J. Lucarelli, MD
Madison Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Are Multiple Treatments Necessary with IPL?

Hello Mary.  Most laser and light based treatment programs require multiple treatments for optimal results.  As some of the other practitioners have pointed out, there is a certain amount of uncertainty with any laser and light based treatment program and using settings on the first treatment that have as much to do with safety as they do with efficacy is a prudent approach.

The number of treatments you will require depends on what you are treating.  Spots are different than small facial veins are different from large pores.  Finally, because we have 10 different lasers in our facility, we tend to choose a laser rather than IPL so that we treat the condition indicated with a laser technology specifically designed for that condition.  An IPL is a generic device and often cannot address more difficult skin conditions such as Rosacea, birthmarks, freckles etc. as easily as lasers can.

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

No improvement after one IPL

Remember that the first treatment is 50% efficacy and 50% safety. We have to determine a safe setting to start with so we tend to be conservative when we first start treating you. Treatments with minimal downtime often require multiple applications in order to achieve your end result. IPL is still our most popular procedure in the office

Jeffrey Kenkel, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Second, third, and even fourth IPL treatments allow stronger settings.


It's not that second and third IPL treatments are necessary, but it is common and expected that your first treatment may yield mild results. Patients are often disappointed in the lack of dramatic improvement, but it's important to know that once settings are shown to be safe, the IPL treatments can get more dramatic with more visible results on the way. Don't give up, but do tell your dermatologist or plastic surgeon that you feel the results were mild and you are prepared to go further.

Jessica J. Krant, MD, MPH
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

IPL usually requres a number of treatments

The first treatment is usually not only to treat but also to see how your skin responds to light treatment, so the settings on the first are normally conservative.  Settings that are too high can cause side effects like burns.

Usually IPL requires 2-4 treatments.  Plus you need to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen to prevent re-acquiring the pigmentation and dilated blood vessels.

Emily Altman, MD
Short Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

IPL treatments

If you don't see any difference following IPL, it is likely that you did not have enough power on the IPL your first session. Sometimes, providers will be conservative on your first session as they do not know how your skin will react. I would recommend you return to your physician for a second session so that he/she may try your IPL with a higher power setting. Now, brown spots, etc. will dissappear following IPL but will return each your following a dose of the summer sun.

Arian Mowlavi, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 65 reviews

Don't give up--IPL requires multiple treatments

I always counsel patients that IPL treatments should be considered as a "series," meaning multiple treatments are necessary.  For pigmentation disorders, such as solar lentigines (sun spots) and melasma, often one treatment offers noticeable improvement, but multiple treatments are necessary to achieve optimum results.  In treating vascular orders such as rosacea with IPL, I find that multiple treatments, usually a minimum of three sessions spaced 4-6 weeks apart, is required before deciding whether IPL is offering an improvement in the degree of broken blood vessels and background erythema.  The added benefit of a series of IPL treatments is that medical literature suggests that collagen formation may be stimulated, in addition to the improvement in sun damage and broken blood vessels.

Melanie D. Palm, MD
San Diego Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 23 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.