Can IPL Damage Your Skin?

These days, some of the most popular beauty secrets are energy-based treatments, such as lasers and radiofrequency. But did you know there’s another energy-based treatment that is just as effective? IPL treatments have been making waves recently among patients who are seeking to perfect the appearance of their skin. At Novo Med Spa in Frisco, TX, we’re proud to offer Intense Pulsed Light treatments to our patients.

Can IPL Damage Your Skin?

There is very little risk of damaging your skin from IPL treatments, also known as photofacials. A photofacial is a non-invasive treatment that saturates the surface of your skin with light to target problem areas and reverse both signs of damage and aging. Because of the gentle nature of this treatment, many patients prefer to use these popular treatments instead of laser treatments or even other facials.

What’s the Difference Between IPL and Laser Treatments?

Some people confuse Intense Pulsed Light treatments and laser treatments, but the two are not as similar as they seem on the surface. While both of these treatments use light-based energy for treatment, the type of energy used is different. Specifically, laser treatments use monochromatic light, usually infrared. Intense Pulsed Light therapy, on the other hand, used broadband light, which encompasses all the light energy in the color spectrum.

Another key difference between these two treatments is the fact that light therapy is non-ablative, which means it does not harm the surface of the skin. Laser treatments, on the other hand, can be either non-ablative or ablative, meaning it can injure the surface of your skin. Because light therapy is a gentler form of energy-based treatments, it’s usually considered a safer option for the majority of patients.

What Is Intense Pulsed Light Therapy?

Photofacials are a type of light therapy that utilizes the power of light energy to treat superficial skin concerns. Light therapy uses the entirety of the light spectrum, which means the surface of your skin is exposed to various hues and light intensities to address different concerns. This treatment is an ideal option for patients of any age and those who have multiple superficial skin concerns.

How Does This Treatment Work?

A photofacial is a simple treatment that exposes your skin to broadspectrum light with a wider coverage which significantly reduces the intensity of the light exposure so that your treatment can be customized to your specific concerns. During your photofacial, a handheld device is passed over your skin, emitting a heating sensation as the light penetrates the top-most dermal layers of your skin.

The key to this treatment is its unrivaled ability to stimulate the body’s natural regenerative abilities and increase collagen production. Both of these factors increase skin cell turnover, which makes it easier for your skin to rejuvenate itself and correct superficial pigmentation concerns. The increased collagen also helps reverse signs of aging, including fine lines, wrinkles, and increased skin laxity.

What Skin Concerns Can This Treatment Address?

The main purpose of this treatment is to address one of the most pervasive age-related skin concerns – photoaging. Photoaging is caused by repeated sun exposure that eventually damages your skin to the point of creating visible signs of aging, such as sun damage, dark spots, redness, fine lines, wrinkles, dryness, pigmentation issues, and many other concerns.

This treatment is considered a rejuvenating anti-aging treatment because it can greatly restore a more youthful appearance to your skin. In addition to photoaging, this treatment can also be used to correct rosacea, scarring, other blemishes, and even be used for hair removal. The breadth of concerns this treatment can address makes it one of the most versatile cosmetic treatments available to patients.

What Intense Pulsed Light Treatments Do We Offer?

At our medspa, we offer two main IPL treatment systems. Both Cutera EXO and Pico Limelight are specialized systems that can treat a variety of skin concerns.

Cutera EXO

Cutera EXO is a light therapy that can single-handedly address concerns such as vein correction, wrinkle reduction, hair removal, and overall skin rejuvenation. The special EXO handheld device allows for the thermal and light energy used in the treatment to be customized to a heat that is ideal for your skin type and tone.

Pico Limelight

Pico Limelight is a unique light therapy that is designed to use mostly green light in its broadspectrum handheld device. Limelight is ideal for medium and dark skin tones, as it has less of a risk of hyperpigmentation. Limelight can be used to even out the skin tone, correct sun damage, reduce acne scarring, and reducing enlarged pores.

Other FAQs

Which Treatment Is Right for You?

Selecting the right photofacial treatment for you will depend on the condition of your skin, your skin concerns, and your skin complexion. Other factors that will determine which treatment system ideal for your aesthetic concerns may be your skin sensitivity, the skin care products you use, and any previous experience you have using energy-based cosmetic treatments. We will help you select the photofacial treatment that is ideal for your specific concerns.

How Many Treatments Will You Need?

The number of treatments you need will likely be determined by the condition of your skin and your aesthetic goals, as well as how your skin responds to the treatment. However, most patients typically require a first round of 4 to 6 treatments to achieve optimal results. If you have more severe aesthetic concerns or if multiple areas of your body are being treated, you may require more treatments.

How Often Should You Have This IPL Treatment?

Your first round of treatments will be spaced about 4 to 6 weeks apart. This spacing is ideal as it gives your body enough time to respond to the energy stimulation from the treatment, which means your body’s natural regenerative response will have several weeks to begin the internalized rejuvenation process.

Another factor for this frequency is your natural skin cell turnover rate, which is how quickly your body sheds dead skin cells and allows new skin cells to rise to the surface. For most people, a turnover cycle is between 28 to 40 days, with mature individuals having a longer cycle. For this reason, your age may also factor into your treatment frequency.

How Long Will Results Last for IPL?

Although the results of these treatments are not permanent, you should know that photofacial results can last for several months, sometimes even a couple of years at a time. It’s not unheard of for patients to complete an initial round of 4 to 6 treatments and then not need to have any further treatments for superficial skin concerns like photoaging for up to 12 months.

However, if you are using this treatment to address other aesthetic concerns, such as skin laxity and wrinkles, then the results of your treatment will last only for as long as collagen production is increased. How long collagen production lasts is something that varies from person to person. We will help you determine the frequency that works best for your aesthetic concerns.

What Can You Do to Maintain Results?

Of course, in addition to any regular IPL treatments you may require to maintain results, there are other things you can do to make sure that your results last for as long as possible. Both of the following techniques are intended to help prolong the results for photoaging treatment, although these methods may also prove helpful for your anti-aging and skin health concerns.


Sunscreen is absolutely the most important thing you can do to protect the health of your skin, as well as prevent premature and repeated photoaging. Wearing sunscreen of at least SPF 30 to 50 will ensure that harmful UV rays do not cause damage to the surface of your skin. It’s important to wear sunscreen year-round and not only during the hotter months of the year – harmful UV rays can affect your skin rain or shine.

Skincare Products

The right skincare products can also prolong your results. For example, if your primary goal is to maintain the anti-aging effects of this treatment, then using skincare products that fight against aging will prolong your photofacial results. This can mean using products rich in AHA, BHA, hyaluronic acid, and collagen.

Complementary Treatments

You may also consider complementary treatments to prolong and enhance your results. There are several other cosmetic treatments you can use after your photofacial to achieve and maintain your aesthetic goals. For example, some treatments that are commonly used to complement this one include:

  • Dermaplaning
  • Chemical peels
  • Silkpeel Dermal Infusion
  • Dermal fillers
  • Neurotoxins
  • Kybella
  • And more


What Is Recovery Like?

The recovery period for each of your photofacial treatments will generally be about 7 to 10 days, which is when your skin will be most sensitive to exposure from sunlight. After your treatment appointment, you will be allowed to go back to work as usual and continue through your day. However, you will be asked to follow some instructions to ensure that you can achieve the best possible results. Some of these instructions include:

  • Avoid hot water, like baths, showers, and saunas, for at least 48 hours
  • Do to use exfoliating scrubs or acids
  • Temporarily discontinue Retinol and AHA products
  • Avoid strenuous exercise, excess heat, and excess sweating

We may also provide you with additional instructions to follow to encourage optimal results. Some of these instructions may include:

  • How to cleanse face with tepid water and gentle soap
  • When and what to moisturize with
  • Serums and other skincare products to use
  • Advice on how to use sunscreen


Is This Treatment Safe?

Any risk associated with this treatment is likely to derive from the strength of light exposure and the specific sensitivity of your skin. For example, those who have sensitive skin or who have fair skin that sunburns easily may have a slightly higher risk of skin irritation. However, on the whole, this treatment is typically safer for your skin than laser treatments.

Are You a Good Candidate?

The majority of patients who would like to perfect the surface of their skin are likely good candidates for this treatment. Both women and men who want to improve photoaging, sun damage, and pigmentation concerns are ideally suited for either Cutera EXO or Pico Limelight treatments. We require all patients to attend a consultation appointment to determine qualification for photofacials.

Perfect Your Skin With Intense Pulsed Light Therapy

The sun can cause more damage to your skin than you might initially want to believe. Between prematurely aging you by causing the formation of wrinkles to UV rays creating dark spots and sun damage on your skin surface, unprotected sun exposure can be an issue. Fortunately, there are popular and effective treatments that can reverse signs of photoaging. If you think IPL treatments are right for you, please call Novo Med Spa in Frisco, TX to schedule your consultation appointment today.