Intense Pulsed Light: Where Are We Now?

What Is Intense Pulsed Light?

Intense pulsed light (IPL, for short) is a skin rejuvenation technology that has a variety of therapeutic and cosmetic applications for treating dermatological issues like acne, photoaging, and hair removal. 

This technology utilizes a hand-held flashgun to deliver carefully calibrated pulses of light that targets chromophores (the molecules responsible for color), heating them up and destroying them. Unlike lasers, which have a fixed wavelength and can only treat one type of chromophore, intense pulsed light has a broad spectrum wavelength that, combined with interchangeable filters, lets it treat a broader range of skin conditions. 

Multiple studies have confirmed that intense pulsed light treatments are a safe and effective option in the treatment of many cosmetic disorders.[1]

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of intense pulse light, courtesy of the world-renowned expert on the matter, Dr. Patrick Bitter

Dr. Bitter is a board-certified dermatologist with over twenty-five years of experience. He has pioneered as well as written multiple research papers on the science of intense pulsed light. At Dr. Bitter’s Advanced Aesthetic Dermatology in Los Gatos, treatments will be the best your skin will ever look and feel. 

Click here, or call now at (408) 358-5757 to schedule your consultation with us today. 

Be sure to stay up to speed with any specials and updates by following Dr. Bitter on social media. You can find him on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube

We look forward to seeing you soon. 

About Intense Pulsed Light

From the introduction of pulsed light broad spectrum energy in 1995, intense pulsed light (IPL) has evolved to become an extremely popular and well-accepted technology for rejuvenation of photodamaged skin in dermatology and plastic surgery practices as well as medical spas.[2] 

It is estimated that there are around 10,000-20,000 intense pulsed light treatments performed a day in the United States, making it one of the most popular aesthetic procedures as well as one of the most popular energy-based devices.

The Role of Intense Pulsed Light

  1. Skin Correction
  2. Supplementary Treatment
  3. To Maintain Healthy Skin
  4. To Delay Skin Aging

Conditions Best Treated by Intense Pulsed Light

  • Photodamage of the face
  • Photodamage of non-facial skin
  • Benign pigmentation
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
  • Facial erythema
  • Non-facial erythema of neck and chest
  • Poikiloderma
  • Rosacea, telangiectasias, erythema, and flushing
  • Erythematous and new traumatic and surgical scars
  • Acne
  • Scars
  • Wrinkles and skin laxity


  • FDA-approved
  • Smoother, clearer skin
  • Greater textural improvement in fine lines and pores
  • Improves the appearance of wrinkles
  • Restores skin laxity
  • Non-invasive


Dr. Bitter will assess your candidacy for FotoFacial with BBL at your personal consultation.  

The best candidates for FotoFacial treatments are:

  • People who suffer from rosacea and experience flushing and redness of their skin
  • Individuals with sun-damaged skin, including fine lines and wrinkles, poor skin tone and texture
  • People with aged, sagging skin who want a smoother, tighter appearance
  • Individuals who suffer from acne that desire clearer, smoother skin
  • People who do not want to take time off to heal from laser resurfacing or chemical peels
  • Individuals who want to improve their skin but do not want treatments to interfere with their active lifestyle

Personal Consultation

To schedule your personal consultation at Advanced Aesthetic Dermatology, we encourage you to call (408) 358-5757 and contact us today. As a board-certified dermatologist and innovator of the world-renowned IPL FotoFacial procedure, Dr. Patrick Bitter is dedicated to helping his patients rejuvenate their appearance and achieve healthier, clearer, and younger-looking skin.


ipl los gatos

Avoid tanning and prolonged sun exposure for two weeks prior to your appointment. Be sure to wear sunscreen every time you go outside. Moisturize regularly, stay hydrated, and avoid smoking. Avoid taking any retinoid antibiotics like Retin-A, Differin, or Tazorac as they will cause increased skin sensitivity.


First, your specialist will clean your skin. Then they will apply a cooling gel to enhance the light waves’ effect. Your specialist will move the pulsing light device over your face in a grid-like pattern. IPL sessions generally take up to 45 minutes if your face is the only area that is being treated.


After your procedure, your specialist will remove the gel and cleanse the skin. There will be some slight redness and puffiness. Make sure to avoid the sun for a week and wear sunscreen consistently when you do go outside. 


IPL results are continually improving over time, with the best results usually seen around three months after the last procedure. Protecting yourself from the sun and maintaining proper skincare is essential to making the effects of the IPL last. Be sure to stay hydrated and moisturize daily to prolong your IPL results. 

Corresponding & Complementary Procedures 


CoolSculpting is a revolutionary fat reduction technology that uses controlled temperatures to target stubborn areas of fat by freezing the underlying fat cells without damaging the skin’s outermost layer. The frozen fat cells go through cellular death, get processed by the body, and are subsequently done away with. This FDA-approved procedure is great for people looking to supplement their diet and exercise routine who are hesitant to go under the knife. 


CoolTone is a non-invasive body contouring technology that uses magnetic muscle stimulation (MMS) to bolster, strengthen, and harden the muscles in a patient’s abdomen, thighs, and buttocks. A great way to stimulate muscle growth and development and supplement an existing workout routine. 

Botox Cosmetic

Botox is the timeless injectable neuromodulator that blocks the release of the chemical responsible for tensing our muscles, reducing fine lines and wrinkles, and creating a tauter, more youthful appearance.


Kybella is another type of injectable neuromodulator that is designed to eliminate the appearance of the dreaded double chin. 

Dermal Fillers

Dermal fillers are injectable gels that aim to fill in the gaps from fine lines and wrinkles as well as provide additional volume where it was lacking, creating a younger-looking visage.

Cost of IPL Treatments in Los Gatos

The exact cost of an intense pulsed light treatment depends on the number of areas that need improvement and the amount of skin damage that needs to be repaired. During your personalized consultation, Dr. Bitter will evaluate your skin and determine the total price for your IPL treatment.

Watch our specials page for the latest package deals!

It is clear that after twenty-five years of clinical experience with broad-spectrum light-based devices that intense pulsed light is here to stay. The future of intense pulsed light will certainly see new clinical applications added to the many useful roles it plays. The future will see a better understanding and wider use of the health maintaining and age-delaying benefits of intense pulsed light as it becomes clearer to more practitioners and the general public that regular treatments with IPL help keep your skin healthy and slow skin aging.

If you enjoyed learning about the many benefits of IPL, we recommend you check out Dr. Bitter’s Blog. You’ll find great content like educational pieces, FAQs, lifestyle advice, and much more. 

Be sure to also follow Dr. Bitter on social media. Share your thoughts with us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube.


What is intense pulsed light?

Intense pulsed light is a skin rejuvenation technology that has a variety of therapeutic and cosmetic applications for treating dermatological issues. IPL uses a hand-held flashgun to deliver carefullycalibrated pulses of light that target the molecules responsible for color, heating them up and destroying them.

How does intense pulsed light work?

The intense pulsed light penetrates the skin and eliminates abnormally pigmented areas. The unwanted pigmentation is eventually brought to the surface and wiped away, revealing the new underlying skin.

What are the benefits of intense pulsed light?

• Treats sun-damaged skin
• Treats stubborn acne
• Eliminates visible veins and capillaries
• Prevent premature skin aging
• It can be performed on multiple parts of the body
• Pairs well with other non-surgical procedures
• Quick & easy with little downtime

What are the possible side effects of intense pulsed light?

• Tenderness, redness, and swelling
• Bruising
• Blisters and burns
• White or dark patches
• Scabbing

What is the difference between IPL and laser treatments?

Lasers have a fixed range of wavelengths. The broad-spectrum light of IPL is made up of many different wavelengths. IPL is also less harsh than laser resurfacing due to it being less concentrated.

Is intense pulsed light safe?

Yes. IPL is considered a safe and effective option in the treatment of many cosmetic disorders.

Is intense pulsed light painful?

No, IPL is a relatively painless procedure. At its worst, patients report it feeling similar to a rubber band lightly snapping their skin.

Who is the ideal candidate for treatment?

The ideal candidate for an intense pulsed light treatment is somebody with sun-damaged skin, who may also have wrinkles, sags, broken capillaries, large pores, and acne scars.

How long does a session take?

Intense pulsed light treatment is a brief and easy procedure. It only takes about 45 minutes.


  1. Brownell, J., BA, Wang, S., MD, & Tsoukas, M. M., MD. (2016). Phototherapy in cosmetic dermatology. Clinics in Dermatology, 34(5), 623-627. doi:
  2. Bitter, P., Jr, MD, FAAD. (2021). Intense pulsed light: Where we are now? Dermatological Reviews, 2(2), 60-68. doi:
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