Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
Intense pulsed light, commonly abbreviated as IPL, is a technology used by cosmetic and medical practitioners to perform various skin treatments for aesthetic and therapeutic uses including hair removal, photorejuvenation, and treatment of dermatologic diseases. The technology utilizes a broad spectrum lightsource, with a general spectral range of 500 to 1200 nm. Various cutoff filters are commonly used to filter out lower frequencies and narrow this spectrum to target specific structures and chromophores. Because of the broad spectrum of the IPL light source they are unique, as opposed to lasers, in the ability to filter the light spectrum to target variouschromophores in the skin.
IPL can permanently reduce hair growth, most effectively in darker, coarser hair. There are many names and devices for pulsed light treatments such as E-Light, ELOS, and M-Light. Laser hair removal is different and uses coherent, monochromatic laser light.
Dr. Patrick Treacy lectures on IPL (Intensed Pulsed Light)
Intense pulsed light is the use of intense pulses of non-coherent light over a range of wavelengths from 500 nm to 1200 nm. Xenon flashlamps produce high output bursts of broad spectrum. Cooling is used to protect the skin in contact with the device. Regulations governing IPL vary by jurisdiction.
The first FDA approval of IPL was for telangiectasias in 1995. Use quickly spread to a variety of medical and cosmetic settings. Treatment is generally safe and effective, but complications can occur such hyperpigmentation. The polychromatic light can reach multiple chromophores in human skin: mainly hemoglobin, water, and melanin. This results in selective photothermolysis of the target, which can be blood vessels, pigmented cells, or hair follicles.