IPL vs Laser Treatments

Healthy, radiant skin is a sign of youthfulness and vitality. If sun exposure, pollution, or the aging process have made your skin discolored, dull, and tired-looking, cosmetic skincare treatments can help clear your complexion and diminish fine lines and wrinkles. Intense pulsed light (IPL) photofacials and laser skin resurfacing are two common procedures used to restore skin to its youthful radiance. Read on for information about IPL vs laser treatments to see which one might be best for you. 

IPL vs laser treatments

IPL photofacials San Diego and laser treatments use light to penetrate through the skin and heat tissue below the surface, stimulating skin-cell renewal and collagen production. Both are used to smooth out skin texture, reverse sun damage, correct discoloration or acne scarring, and leave you with healthier skin and a more rejuvenated appearance. Although the two treatments do overlap in some ways, they differ in important ways as well. 

Intense pulse light (IPL) therapy

IPL therapy is a non-invasive cosmetic procedure that uses a broad spectrum of visible light  with multiple wavelengths to treat skin discoloration issues. The light from the IPL device pulses or flashes instead of providing one wavelength of concentrated light the way a standard laser does.  The broad spectrum allows the IPL photofacial to treat a wider range of skin conditions than lasers, and the multiple wavelengths make it more comfortable as well.  IPL is great for treating:

  • Discoloration
  • Redness
  • Rosacea
  • Sun damage
  • Melasma
  • Spider veins
  • Stretch mark discoloration

IPL is used to target the cells that cause hyperpigmentation, sun damage, and redness of the skin. It works in the second and underlying layers of skin, leaving the surface intact. As the deeper layers of skin are treated with the light and heat, the increase in collagen production also rejuvenates the overall appearance of the skin. The larger handpiece used to deliver the IPL therapy also allows for a larger target treatment area, which significantly reduces treatment time. 


Lasers used for skin resurfacing treatments use one concentrated wavelength of light. This single wavelength is strong and focused, making lasers great for targeting a specific pigment or tissue. Lasers can be adjusted to treat deeper levels of skin or more surface levels. Some laser treatments are ablative (they remove surface layers of skin), while others are non-ablative (the light and heat pass through to deeper levels of skin without breaking the surface). Fractional lasers remove columns of skin while leaving the rest intact. The healing response caused by the fractional and ablative lasers helps to create new skin cells and new collagen. Lasers can be used to treat:

  • Acne scarring
  • Mild to moderate lines and wrinkles
  • Sun damage
  • Uneven pigmentation

In addition to skin resurfacing, lasers can be used for:

Laser treatment is often a good choice for skin resurfacing when more specific and focused treatment is required or when more dramatic results are desired. The intense and concentrated energy from the laser can result in more discomfort and may require a longer recovery time than IPL.  

Both IPL photofacial and laser skin resurfacing treatments provide beautiful anti-aging results that can significantly change the way you see yourself—and the way you look in pictures! 

IPL and laser treatments at San Diego Cosmetic Laser Clinic

If dull, aged, or blemished skin is having a negative impact on your confidence and self-esteem, or if you just can’t seem to get rid of that last pesky acne scar, come see us at San Diego Cosmetic Laser Clinic. We offer IPL photofacial and laser treatments that can help rejuvenate and restore your skin to its healthy radiance so you look and feel your best all year round. Give us a call at (619) 583-7555 to schedule a consultation today. 

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