Is it important to go to a doctor for an IPL?

I have seen several posts mentioning damage from IPL, the injectionist I go to does IPL but she is pricey and I was considering going elsewhere for cost. Is an IPL an IPL? Should I spend the extra money?

Doctor Answers 7

IPL - Do you need a physician?

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First of all, not all IPL's are the same.  Older IPL's may use cryogen lamps instead of xenon lamps.  In addition, the threshold for therapeutic and burn is much lower in an older IPL system than newer IPL systems.  There are a select few 3rd generation IPL's which are much better at targeting browns and reds with higher absorption than older IPLs.  IPL's should be performed under a physician's umbrella as safety parameters and effectiveness parameters will be much more likely.    It is better to spend money on an effective treatment than less money on an ineffective one.  

Chicago Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 177 reviews

IPL treatment

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If I were thinking about IPL for myself or family, I would only have it performed at a clinic with physician oversight. I'd also assure that the technician performing the procedure had several years of experience. IPL is a tool that has to be adjusted to each individual based on their skin condition, skin type and ancestry. 

Best to you,

Dr. Norcom

Derek Norcom, MD
Portland Physician

Lasers are serious

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Hello! Thank you for your question. 

Seeking an expert for this sort of procedure is absolutely essential. Lasers (especially in the case of IPL - Intense Pulse Light) can cause significant and permanent damage if not utilized by an individual with experience and expertise. It is extremely important that you measure price only so far as it relates to a responsible procedure. I have seen many results from individuals who have IPL done through Groupon, etc. that walk away with permanently burned skin or hyper-pigmentation! 

In good health,

Dr. Berger

Andre Berger, MD
Beverly Hills Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

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Go With An Expert for Best Results--IPL Treatments

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You're going to want to see an expert for your IPL treatments to get the best results. I recommend getting a formal evaluation with a cosmetic dermatologist. Best, Dr. Emer

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 207 reviews

IPL by a professional.

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Thanks for your question.  In general, IPL is a safe procedure. There are some contraindications to IPL however and caution should be exercised.  Off-brand machines can cause burns or uneven results.  Individuals with darker skin should not receive IPL either.  At our clinic we do a test patch first.  We recently saw a patient that went to get IPL at an inexpensive spa.  She went for skin lightening and her skin kept getting darker and darker.  When we did a test patch, she was too sensitive to IPL and we saw that she was developing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or PIH.  We switched her regimen to skin lightening facials and peels instead.

Safety first; I hope this helps.

Ricardo Pocurull, MD
College Station Internist


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Thank you for your question.  IPL can cause a lot of damage when it is not done incorrectly.  I think it is worth the money to go to someone you trust that has experience with IPL and the settings based on your skin type.  Best of luck! 

Shahin Fazilat, MD, FACS
Mountain View Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 14 reviews


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Thank you for your question SeekingMyOwnIdeal. I understand your concern. IPL is a great treatment for facial rejuvenation. It is important that it is performed by an experienced provider. Look for experience, before and after photographs, and testimonials. Almost every one of my patients tell me that she would spend extra money for a good hair stylist so that she can look her best. Since there are so many complications from laser treatments I am surprised at how many people look for the best deal. I tell my patients that if they are on a budget they should save and wait until they are financially ready to see an experienced provider before undergoing treatments. Please consult with a doctor for specific recommendations. Good luck!

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.