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Which Laser Treatment To Do This Summer?

Practitioner Question

Last week we advised accounts to not perform ablative laser treatments in the summer. One of our accounts emailed asking if they should stay away from IPL treatments as well.

CO2 Ablative Laser vs IPL

Comparing IPL to a CO2 Ablative is night and day. Ablative lasers use a continuous wavelength of light that targets the water in the skin. The intense heat from the light source instantly dehydrates the outer layer of the skin until it completely removes the patient’s epidermis.

IPL is a much milder treatment. Instead of a continuous light beam, IPL pulses a band of multiple wavelengths onto the skin. The intermittent action does not damage the epidermis. The light works beneath the surface of the skin destroying the cells that contain melanin which in turn reduces brown spots.

What We Recommend

While IPL doesn’t have nearly the downtime of an ablative laser, practitioners need to advise patients to stay out of the sun for 3-4 weeks. After an IPL treatment, the body’s natural defense against UV light has been greatly impaired. As a result, the cells are more susceptible to burning, which will lead to greater hyperpigmentation of the skin.

IPL is a great treatment for photodamage but for many patients staying out of the sun for 3-4 weeks during the summer is not an option.