Any Way to Reduce Pain of IPL More Effective Than Lidocaine Cream?

I have had IPL in the past to treat redness and sun damage and LOVE the results, as I have very fair skin. However, though I really want more treatments, I just can't take the pain - even with having the doctor apply lidocaine a full hour prior to treatment. Last time it was so severe, even with lidocaine, that I started crying and couldn't finish the treatment. Does any doctor do local anesthesia or something stronger than lidocaine, or another alternative treatment that would be less painful?

Doctor Answers 5

IPL treatment

In addition to the topical numbing cream (combination of benzocaine, lidocaine, and tetracaine), we use cold air that is applied to the treated area at the same time the laser is being used.

Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 221 reviews

Reducing Pain in an IPL Treatment

IPL Photofacial is a wonderfully effective treatment for removing sun damage in skin of your type, so you should work with your doctor to find a way to lessen the pain. At Boris Cosmetic we use a combination numbing cream with 20% benzocaine, 6% lidocaine, and 4% tetracaine. It is highly effective, and may work for you. In addition, the application of ice packs, cold air, or other forms of cold just prior to the pulse of light definitely makes the procedure more tolerable for sensitive people. Good luck!

George T. Boris, MD, FRCS, FACS
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
3.7 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Topical anesthetic prior to IPL

There are a few different types of topical numbing cream, so ask you physician which one is being used and perhaps you can get a stronger one. As well as a topical numbing cream, we use a very cold air chiller during the procedure that helps tremendously. Very few offices do this, but if you can find one that does, I swear it won't hurt even close to as much! See below for my thoughts on making IPL a better procedure.

F. Victor Rueckl, MD
Las Vegas Dermatologist
4.6 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Topical Anesthetics and IPL...

I agree with Dr. Yoo.  Consult with your provider for some other topical anesthetic and consider Tylenol and Motrin 45 minutes prior to treatment or if you have someone who can drive you to and from your treatment you can get a prescription for a pain pill from your doctor.  Hope this helps good luck.


Dr. Grant Stevens              Marina Plastic Surgery Associates       Marina del Rey, CA The Institute

Grant Stevens, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 145 reviews

Availability of stronger topical anesthetic formulations

Not all topical anesthetics are created equal.  Talk to your doctor about getting a stronger formulation.  In my office we have a couple different topicals, including a mixture of lidocaine/prilocaine/phenylephrine that provides near complete numbing.  

Donald B. Yoo, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 57 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.