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Is Intense Pulsed Light Treatment Right for You?

If you have redness and pigmentation, then Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment might be worth exploring. This advanced cosmetic technology offers a versatile approach to treating various skin issues, from sun damage and age spots to acne and rosacea. 

However, as with any cosmetic procedure, it's important to determine whether it fits your specific skin concerns and overall health. In this blog, we'll discuss what skin conditions IPL treats, how many sessions are needed to get optimal results, and who the ideal candidate for this laser treatment in Winnipeg.

What Skin Conditions Does IPL Treat?

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments are increasingly utilized as a quick comfortable alternative for addressing various skin discoloration. This technology uses a broad spectrum of light that heats and targets the superficial layers of the skin, effectively minimizing or eliminating various discoloration in the skin. The treatment is versatile and is commonly applied to the face, neck, back, shoulders, and hands.

IPL is particularly effective in treating the following skin conditions:

  • Sun Damage and Freckles: The light treatment diminishes the appearance of damage caused by prolonged exposure to the sun and lightens freckles.

  • Rosacea: IPL can reduce the redness and the visible blood vessels associated with rosacea.

  • Broken Capillaries: These small, spider-like veins can be effectively minimized with IPL treatments.

  • Hair removal: an easy and long lasting way to reduce unwanted hair without razors. 

In addition to skin treatment, IPL is also a popular method for hair removal, often referred to as laser hair removal, despite the different technologies used. The process involves the emission of pulsating light that penetrates deep into the hair follicles, destroying the roots and substantially reducing the capability of the follicle to regrow hair. Since hair growth occurs in cycles, multiple sessions are typically necessary—generally, 5-10 treatments spread over several months—to adequately address each hair growth phase.

IPL can be used for hair removal in various body areas, including:

  • Bikini Line: Providing a long-term solution for hair removal in sensitive areas.

  • Legs: Allowing for smooth, hair-free legs without the need for regular shaving.

  • Arms: Reducing arm hair density and thickness.

  • Underarms: Offering a clean, hair-free appearance under the arms.

  • Face: Specific areas such as the upper lip, chin, and sideburns can be treated, making it a suitable option for facial hair removal for women.

Overall, IPL offers a flexible and effective solution for both skin rejuvenation and hair removal, catering to a wide range of dermatological needs.

How Many IPL Sessions Do I Need?

The number of necessary Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments varies based on the specific skin issue being addressed. Generally, one to three sessions are sufficient for brown spots to see significant improvement. On the other hand, conditions such as facial veins or generalized redness might require between three to six treatments to achieve optimal results. Individuals with rosacea might need a more extended series of treatments to manage their symptoms effectively. It's important to allow the skin ample time to recover between sessions, so treatments are usually spaced four to six weeks apart.

What Is the Procedure Like?

Before undergoing an IPL treatment, avoiding other skin treatments like waxing, chemical peels, or cosmetic injections is crucial, as these can affect the skin's sensitivity and healing capacity. Discuss any medications such as certain antibiotics, acne treatments or blood thinners with your healthcare provider. For a week before your IPL session, refrain from using skin products containing retinoids or other ingredients that heightened skin sensitivity. 

To prepare for the treatment, ensure you are well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water before and after the session. You will be provided protective goggles to shield your eyes during the treatment. Our Winnipeg nurse will cleanse the target area and apply a cooling gel to minimize discomfort. The treatment involves using a handheld device that emits light pulses directed at the skin issues. Depending on the extent of the area being treated, the session can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

Who Can Get IPL?

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments are most effective for individuals with fair to medium skin tones. This range of skin types tends to respond better because the IPL targets pigmentation issues and hair follicles more distinctly in lighter skin. People with darker skin tones or tanned skin may have an excess of melanin, which can absorb too much of the light energy used in IPL treatments. This excess absorption increases the risk of hyperpigmentation, making the procedure less safe for darker skin types.

Additionally, IPL is not advisable for individuals taking medications that increase light sensitivity, as this can enhance the skin's vulnerability to the light pulses used during the treatment, potentially leading to adverse effects. Pregnant women are also recommended to avoid IPL treatments, as the effects on pregnancy are not thoroughly understood.

IPL Recovery

IPL has very little post care recovery. Post-treatment, you may experience a sensation similar to a sunburn that lasts 4-6 hours. To alleviate discomfort, applying ice packs or a cool washcloth can be beneficial. Your skin might appear red or bruised for a couple of days, and any brown spots could darken initially, but they are expected to peel off over the next few weeks. During the healing process:

  • Avoid wearing makeup if your skin feels sore.

  • Apply a moisturizing lotion to help soothe and hydrate the skin.

  • Use sunscreen for protection, choosing a product with a minimum SPF of 30 and containing a physical blocker like zinc oxide. Remember to reapply every 2 hours, regardless of the weather.

  • Cleanse your face with a product formulated for sensitive skin.

Consult your dermatologist or skin care expert to determine when it is safe to resume your usual skincare routine, which could take about a week.


Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment offers a promising solution for those seeking improvement in skin aesthetics and hair removal. While highly effective for a range of skin conditions and suitable for fair to medium skin tones, it's essential to consult a skin care specialist to ensure it's the right option for you, considering your skin type and health status.

At Embrace Skin Clinic, our skin care experts are dedicated to helping you achieve your aesthetic goals with IPL treatments. We evaluate your specific skin concerns and health background to provide personalized advice and treatment plans to ensure optimal safety and effectiveness. Contact Us Today!

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