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SWOT LASERS  --- Since 1998, we only focus on lasers.  

A simple introduction for Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

Classification: Articles



Release Time:2023-08-21 14:15

A simple introduction for Intense Pulsed Light (IPL):


Intense pulsed light (IPL) devices use flashlamps and bandpass filters to emit polychromatic incoherent high-intensity pulsed light of determined wavelength spectrum, fluence, and pulse duration. Similar to lasers, the basic principle of IPL devices is a more or less selective thermal damage of the target. The combination of 
prescribed wavelengths, fluences, pulse durations, and pulse intervals facilitates the treatment of a wide spectrum of skin conditions.

IPL devices use flashlamps and computer-controlled capacitor banks to generate pulsed polychromatic high-intensity light. Electrical energy stored in the capacitor bank is passed through xenon gas within a gas-discharge lamp so that bright light is emitted; thus, electrical energy is converted into optical energy.
 The emission spectrum of IPLs ranges from 500 to 1,300 nm. With the aid of convertible cut-off filters, IPLs can be easily adapted to the desired wavelength range since IPLs are polychromatic. This allows for a certain versatility. Besides, the key chromophores of human skin (hemoglobin, melanin, water) show broad absorption spectrums. Thus, monochromaticity is not a requirement for photothermolysis. As IPL devices emit a spectrum of wavelengths, the three key chromophores can be activated with one single light exposure. This versatility implies a reduced selectivity. The patient’s skin type and the skin condition present determine the choice of suitable cut-off filters and therefore the spectrum of wavelengths to be emitted. Pulse duration can be set in relatively wide ranges (depending on the particular device) in the millisecond range. Similar to laser devices, pulse duration should be lower than the thermal relaxation time of the target structure to prevent unselective damage to the surrounding tissue. The combination of particular wavelengths, pulse durations, pulse intervals, and fluences facilitates the treatment of a wide spectrum of skin conditions, such as acne vulgaris, pigmented lesions, vascular lesions, unwanted hair growth, photo-damaged skin, scars , and angiokeratoma . 

Fig. 1. Fifty-seven-year-old women with hypertrichiosis 
treated with IPL . 
(a)patient prior to treatment, 
(b) patient after five treatments

Fig. 2. Fifty-one-year-old man with essential facial telangiec
tasias treated with IPL
(a)patient prior to treatment, 
(b) test spots on the left cheek, 
(c) patient 6 weeks after four treatments.

The effectiveness of intense pulsed light (IPL) and laser devices is widely accepted in aesthetic dermatology for unwanted hair removal and treatment of a variety of cutaneous conditions. Overall, most comparative trials have demonstrated similar effectiveness for IPL and laser devices. Literature studies alternatively favor the IPL and laser concepts, but the incidence of severe local pain and side effects were generally lower with IPL. IPL phototherapy, already established as a sound option in photoepilation and treatment of photoaging, hyperpigmentation and other skin conditions, is also considered first choice in the phototherapy of skin vascular malformations. When treating large areas, as often required in photoepilation and many aesthetic dermatology indications, IPL technologies show advantages over laser-based devices because of their high skin coverage rate. Compared to lasers, the wide range of selectable treatment settings, though a strong advantage of IPL, may also imply some more risk of local thermal side effects, but almost only in the hands of poorly trained operators. Overall, the strongest advantages of the IPL technologies are robust technology, versatility, lower purchase price, and the negligible risk of serious adverse effects in the hands of skilled and experienced operators.

Versatility in treating many dermatological conditions as well as lower commercial costs and more robust technology are strong advantages for IPL technologies compared to laser devices. This may be true for both photoepilation and treatment of several skin disorders, for which IPL is often the firstchoice option. The large spot sizes allowed by IPL shorten the time needed for photorejuvenation sessions while the troublesome need to apply an optical coupling gel has been eliminated with the most advanced pulsed light devices. 
IPL technologies developed over the very last years like IFL™ have also eliminated the emission of sigmoidal-shaped pulses, another weak point of older IPL devices. Shifts in spectral and fluence distribution within the pulse are unavoidable with non-square-shaped pulses. Thanks to the large capacitor banks in advanced IPL devices, variable current are no longer delivered to the xenon flash lamp and roughly square-shaped pulses are dependably emitted. Some minor difficulties with handling and the weight of the handpiece incorporating both the lamp and the lamp cooling system are a little price that has still to be paid for all the benefits of the most advanced IPL technologies.