What Is It?

IPL treatment uses pulses of non-laser light for removal of superficial spider veins from the face and legs as well as deeper varicose veins from the legs. The heat energy from the carefully calibrated light is absorbed by the targeted blood vessels, causing the blood to coagulate and the veins to collapse. Surrounding skin is spared, for it has a different pigment (color) than these red and blue veins and therefore doesn’t absorb the light. After treatment, the destroyed veins are absorbed by the body and gradually fade from sight. See before and after photo.

How Does IPL Differ From Laser Therapy?

IPL wavelengths are broader than those generated by lasers, which means the technology is gentler on the skin than lasers—and usually less painful. Broader wavelengths also mean, however, that the treatment may not be as initially effective in removing the unwanted blood vessels. With IPL, multiple treatments are frequently needed to achieve the desired results.

What Is the Treatment Like?

Using a hand-held device, your clinician will deliver the IPL light into the targeted veins. Some sort of cooling system (some devices have special cooling tips) will be used to protect your skin’s surface from the heat. Most people say the light pulses feel like a small rubber band snapping at the skin. If you find the procedure too uncomfortable, you can request a topical anesthetic for any pain.

IPL treatments are brief, generally lasting less than 30 minutes. You can return to your normal activities immediately. Side effects from IPL treatments are generally minimal if performed properly, but may include a few days of redness, swelling, and bruising on the treated area of skin.

The most serious potential complications from IPL treatments are scarring and skin discoloration (hyperpigmentation). Although rare, these unwanted side effects carry the risk of becoming permanent.