The IPL (intense pulsed light) Photofacial is a laser treatment to reduce redness and excess pigmentation for a more even skin tone. These concerns cause many to feel self-conscious, are frustrating to deal with, and are hard to cover up. The IPL Photofacial at Essential Dermatology in Natick, MA, is a great way to feel more confident about your skin with minimal downtime. Our advanced Lumenis Stellar IPL™ device offers increased treatment safety and comfort for our patients from Weston, Wayland, Framingham, Needham, and surrounding communities.

How Does the IPL Photofacial Work?

When melanin cells are produced and become localized, they create discoloration and moles. Vascular changes can cause capillaries and veins to become closer to the skin and highly visible. The IPL Photofacial treatment heats up the pigmentation in melanin and red blood cells but doesn’t harm the skin’s surface or surrounding tissues. After the light energy breaks up the melanin and red blood cells, the body naturally flushes them away, leaving the skin more clear and radiant.

What Can IPL Treat?

Women and men choose these highly versatile treatments to address any combination of the following concerns on exposed areas such as the face, chest, hands, and legs:

  • Excess pigmentation such as freckles, sun spots, and age spots
  • Redness such as rosacea, hemangiomas, and broken capillaries
  • Leg veins and facial veins
  • Acne bacteria as well as the excess pigmentation and redness caused by acne
  • Stretch marks
  • Hypertrophic scars
  • Hyperpigmentation

How Does IPL Treatment Differ From Laser Treatment?

Both IPL and lasers are effective for treating a variety of skin conditions, but they differ in the type of light they use to achieve those goals. IPL uses a broad-spectrum light of differing wavelengths, while lasers use a focused single wavelength to penetrate more deeply into the skin’s layers. IPL is often considered a more versatile, gentler treatment that requires less recovery time than laser. In some cases, it can also cost less than laser treatment.

For conditions such as rosacea, IPL is usually preferred as it can address both the redness and the small bumpy papules associated with the condition.

Lasers can address rosacea-related redness, but they’re not as effective on papules. However, laser treatment is usually the better option for reducing the appearance of stretch marks, some scars, skin laxity, and irregular pigmentation.

What Are IPL Treatments Like?

After cleansing the skin and applying a cooling gel, Dr. Krathen places the IPL handpiece against the skin and releases a quick pulse of light. Each pulse may create slight discomfort similar to a mild rubber band snap. The Lumenis Stellar IPL device includes cooling technology that minimizes discomfort and increases safety during treatments. Dr. Krathen moves the handpiece along the skin until it is completely treated. After completing the treatment, he wipes away the gel and applies a soothing serum or sunscreen.

What To Avoid After Treatment

After your treatment, it is important to continually protect your skin from the sun to prevent any further damage. Dr. Krathen can suggest daily sunscreen and skincare products to help keep your skin healthy.

How Many IPL Photofacial Treatments Will I Need?

Most patients need 2 to 4 IPL treatment sessions spaced about one month apart to get the best results. While IPL results last for years, your skin will continue to age and be susceptible to sun damage. Regular maintenance treatments every few years will help keep your skin clear and healthy-looking.

Can IPL Photofacial Treatments Be Combined With Other Treatments?

Depending on your skin goals, we can enhance your IPL results with a variety of other treatments. For those who are concerned about skin texture as well as excess pigmentation, we might recommend a treatment plan that includes both IPL and chemical peels. IPL and microneedling boost collagen production to improve skin texture and appearance, so they’re also a popular combination.


IPL photofacials encourage collagen growth and kill harmful bacteria on your skin’s surface. As a result, they can be helpful to your skin’s health, reducing acne breakouts, and reversing sun damage and some signs of aging. Still, people with melasma should not have IPL treatment and it may worsen pigmentation for some, so it’s important to consult with an experienced dermatologist for your treatment.

You can expect your IPL results to last for years as long as you protect your skin from sun damage and maintain healthy skin habits. As IPL cannot prevent future aging and environmental damage, however, you may want to plan on having maintenance treatments every few years to refresh your skin.

IPL prompts your body’s healing response and collagen production. As collagen is one of the essential building blocks of healthy skin, this boost in collagen formation can help you look younger. A 2019 study found that nearly 85% of those treated with IPL experienced mild to excellent rejuvenation benefits. For more dramatic anti-aging benefits, you may also want to combine IPL with other treatments such as microneedling.

Yes, IPL heats the skin, creating controlled “damage.” To repair this damage, your skin begins to produce more collagen. If you’re looking for a dramatic boost to collagen production, however, a laser skin rejuvenation treatment such as the Fraxel® Dual laser may be a better option.

IPL offers modest skin tightening for those with mild skin laxity. For more pronounced sagginess, the CO2RE® fractional laser tightens loose skin on the face, neck, and stomach.

IPL reduces skin redness and pigmentation, making your skin tone more even and smooth-looking. There’s also some evidence from a 2008 study that IPL has a lightening effect.

Schedule a Consultation

The IPL Photofacial is a great laser treatment to help with your dermatological concerns. It is minimally invasive, quick, and relatively painless. To get started on your treatment options today, call our office at (508) 545-9713 or request a consultation by filling out our online form. To book an appointment, schedule your visit as a new patient using our online scheduler or as an existing patient using the Mass General Brigham Patient Gateway.

Meet Dr. Michael Krathen

Dr. Michael Krathen is a board-certified dermatologist with more than a decade of medical training and experience. A specialist in both medical and cosmetic dermatology, he uses expertise, collaboration, and compassion to help people of all ages discover their healthiest and most radiant skin.

Credentials You Can Trust

American Academy of Dermatology
American Society for Dermatologic Surgery
New England Dermatological Society
Alpha Omega Alpha
Massachusetts Academy of Dermatology
Dr. Michael Krathen