What is IPL treatment? We answer your questions about IPL treatment

What does an IPL treatment involve?

IPL-treatment is a type of light therapy which is used to treat wrinkles, stains and removal of unwanted hair. IPL stands for intense pulsating light.

IPL treatment

You can perform IPL treatment at home to minimize or remove:

  • Age spots
  • Sun damage
  • Freelancer
  • Birthmarks
  • Varicose veins
  • Broken blood vessels i the face
  • Rosacea
  • Hair in the face, on the neck, back, chest, legs, under the arms or bikini line.

    The difference between IPL and laser treatment

    IPL-treatment is similar to a laser treatment. One laser however, focuses only one wavelength of light on the skin, while IPL emits light with many different wavelengths, like a photo flash.

    The light from IPL is more diffused and less focused than one laser. IPL penetrates down to the second layer of the skin (dermis) without damaging the top layer (epidermis), so it causes less damage to the skin.

    The pigment cells in your skin absorb the light energy, which is converted into heat. The heat destroys the unwanted pigment to remove freckles and other blemishes. Or it destroys the hair follicle to prevent hair from growing back.

    You can use IPL treatment anywhere on the body, but it may not work as well on uneven areas. It is not recommended for people who tend to get raised keloids or who have darker skin tones. It is also not as effective in light hair as on darker hair.

    How you should prepare for IPL treatment

    Did you know that winter is the best time to start thinking about laser hair removal? Although this non-invasive cosmetic procedure can be performed throughout the year, it requires consistency as the results accumulate with each treatment; to deal with laser during the cooler months means you'll be hair-free and ready for the beach come December!

    Before the IPL treatment, your dermatologist will examine your skin and inform you of the results you can expect. Let them know if you have any skin conditions that may affect healing after treatment, such as inflammatory acne or eczema.

    Your dermatologist may recommend that you avoid certain activities, medications and other products for two weeks prior to treatment.

    In connection with IPL treatment, you should avoid

    • Direct sunlight
    • Solariums
    • Waxing
    • Chemical peels
    • Collagen injections
    • Medicines that increase the risk of bleeding, such as aspirin and ibuprofen.
    • Creams or other products containing vitamin A, such as RetinA, or glycolic acid.

    Costs of IPL treatment

    The cost depends on the type of condition you want treated and the size of the treatment area. On average, IPL treatment costs between €7,000 and €12,000 in the clinic. You may have to pay more for tests, follow-up visits or medication. As IPL treatment is considered a cosmetic procedure, most health insurance policies do not cover the cost.

    What you can expect during treatment

    Your skin therapist will first do the area to be treated. Then they rub a cold gel on your skin. Then they apply pulses of light from the IPL unit to the skin area. During the treatment you will need to wear dark glasses to protect your eyes.

    IPL treatment-1

    The pulses can sting the skin. Some people liken the sensation to being squeezed with a rubber band.

    Depending on which part of your body is being treated and how large the area is, the treatment should take 20 - 30 minutes.

    To get the results you want, you may need three to six treatments. These treatments should be done about a month apart to allow the skin to heal between them. Hair Removal requires 6 to 12 treatments.

    How well IPL treatment works

    Newer IPL devices work about as well as laser treatments for some cosmetic treatments, such as reducing the appearance of blood vessels in the skin. For hair removal IPL works better on thick, dark hair than on fine, light hair. You may need several treatments to achieve the desired results.

    Possible side effects

    Most people experience slight redness or swelling after treatment. This usually disappears within a day or two.

    In some cases, you may even experience:

    • Bruises
    • Blisters
    • Change in skin colour.
    • Infection

    What you can expect after an IPL treatment

    You should be able to return to your normal activities. The treated skin area will be red and sensitive for a few hours, as if you had been sunburned. Your skin may also be slightly swollen. Your skin will continue to be sensitive for a few days after treatment. You may need to avoid using hot water on it until the skin heals.

      Alternatives to IPL treatment

      IPL treatment is not the only method used to remove fine lines, blemishes and unwanted hair. Other options include:

      IPL treatment-2

      Laser: A laser uses a single, focused wavelength of light to remove unwanted hair permanently at home, wrinkles, sun damage and other blemishes. If the laser removes the top layer of skin, it is considered an ablative treatment. If it heats the underlying tissue without damaging the top layer, it is considered non-ablative.

      Laser treatments require fewer sessions than IPL treatment, and they can be used effectively on dark skin. The cost of laser skin resurfacing averages around €22,000.

      Fraxel laser treatment: The Fraxel laser is considered a nonablative treatment because it penetrates below the skin's surface without damaging the top layer. Some Fraxel treatments treat part of the skin and can then be called fractional laser, which treats part of the skin in an ablative way. Fraxel laser can be used to treat sun damage and wrinkles as well as acne scars. After the treatment, the skin renews itself. You need several treatments to see results. Fraxel laser treatments cost around SEK 10,000 per session.

      Microdermabrasion: Microdermabrasion uses a grinding machine to gently remove the top layer of skin. It can be used to bleach age spots and areas of darker skin. It can also reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. You'll need a series of treatments to see an improvement, and the results are usually temporary. The average cost of a treatment is £1,000.

      Advantages and disadvantages of IPL treatment compared to other cosmetic treatments.


      • The treatment works well to reduce wrinkles and blemishes and get rid of unwanted hair.
      • Sessions are faster than with other methods.
      • The light doesn't damage the top layers of skin, so you'll have fewer side effects than with laser or dermabrasion.
      • Recovery is fast.


      • You will need to return for several treatments to get the results you want.
      • IPL does not work well on dark skin and light hair.

      Discuss all your options with your dermatologist, including benefits, risks and costs, to decide whether IPL or another treatment works best for you.

      What are the main differences between IPL treatment at home and IPL treatment in a clinic?

      Traditionally, IPL - a treatment we have left to the professionals. But in the last five years, technology has come a long way, and now many companies offer at-home devices that promise to deliver the same results as a professional treatment.

      But can a home device really compete with an IPL treatment in a clinic? Here, Hannah English, beauty writer, pharmaceutical researcher, explains the difference between the two.

      IPL treatment at home

      First of all, how does IPL treatment work in the first place? "IPL emits intense pulsed light under the skin that targets the melanin in the hair follicle," says Hannah. "The melanin heats up and pushes the hair into a 'resting mode'. When the hair is in this resting phase, it falls out naturally and the hair growth process starts again."

      Cordless IPL

      Provided you invest in a high-quality IPL machine, the treatment is safe and effective to use at home. "Be careful where you buy from - many cheaper IPL machines don't have a skin tone sensor, which means users have to compare their skin tone with paper charts to set the energy level. This leaves it up to the user to get it right or wrong, with limited guidance on the correct setting."

      Vivre IPL for home use

      For those who want to invest in their own IPL machine, the recently launched Vivre® IPL Pro Cordless Laser Hair Removal one of the most sophisticated on the market. " Vivre® IPL Pro is completely safe to use at home - it uses proprietary technology that continuously measures the differences in skin tone and automatically adjusts the light intensity to the optimal level. So it's always the perfect balance between energy and safety."

      To ensure the best results, we recommend Vivre that you start your journey with four to twelve treatments per week. "The time it takes to see results varies from person to person, depending on their typical hair growth cycle. For some people, it can take up to 16 months for areas such as the armpits, lower legs and bikini area."

      Having said that, it is worth noting that IPL at home is not suitable for all skin types. "It's most effective on fair to medium skin tones, with hair ranging from naturally blonde to dark brown or black," explains Hannah.

      "The device is so not effective on very blond, red, grey or white hair - the smaller amount of melanin in these hair colours does not absorb the light energy. Since dark skin contains more melanin, it can absorb more than the safe, recommended amount of light energy and may therefore cause discomfort."

      IPL treatment in clinic

      Professional IPL treatment first became available for commercial use in the mid-1990s.

      The technology used in the salon is very similar to that used in the aforementioned home appliances. "The mechanism of action is the same for both techniques - that is, targeting the melanin in the hair follicle. In terms of reported hair removal results, there is no difference in principle. The main difference is the type of light used to achieve results. IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) is a broadband pulsed light source, while laser is a monochromatic, coherent light source."

      If you want to go the professional route, you need to book a series of treatments. It takes two or three weeks to see results after the first time and eight to twelve treatments to get the full effect.

      Does IPL treatment at home or in a clinic give the best results?

      For me, the best results mean the highest possible and longest lasting hair reduction in the shortest possible time.

      Based on the best possible hair reduction response to treatments, this is the short answer:

      Professional treatments give you the longest lasting, maximum hair reduction with a single treatment. The results can last for years. You may need top-ups eventually.

      Home appliances provide a high hair reduction after one treatment, but the hair will grow back if you stop too early. Regular additional treatments every 4 - 6 weeks will prolong the results and leave you smooth. You will need fewer IPL treatments over time.