FAQ’s – Acne Treatments with IPL


Patients that should not be treated include:

– those who are pregnant
– those who are sunburned or have irritated skin in the sites to be treated
– those who are exhibiting unidentified skin conditions in the sites to be treated
– those who have healed poorly after other types of laser treatments
– patients prone to skin discoloration
– patients who are taking photosensitizing medication, such as Accutane, should discontinue the medication 6 months before treatment
– patients who are taking topical Retin-A, patients should wait 2 weeks before treatment
– don’t apply laser energy to any raised lesions, aside from purely red ones i.e angiomas; other lesions should first be checked by a dermatologist

Patients who are sunburned should wait until the burn subsides. Herpes Simplex Labialis (fever blisters) can be activated by laser treatment, especially on the upper lip, and patients with a tendency for fever blistering can be started on antiviral medication before treatment.

Setting expectations:

Patients need to be informed that clearance of acne typically takes up to 4 treatments in order to see a good result. Acne is caused when pores become clogged and then infected with the p. acnes bacteria. It is not always caused by poor diet or hygiene, but a change in each may help yield better results. The laser light heats of the affected area to effectively kill the p. acnes bacteria while also helping to shrink the sebaceous glands, which will cause them to produce less oil, limit future outbreaks and reduce pore size. Also, some patient’s condition may become worse before it gets better. This should subside as the treatments progress. The patient should be aware of this risk and common occurrence, otherwise the patient might opt out of continued treatments. There is no cure for acne, only maintenance, so the patient should be aware that they may need more treatments in the future.

How many treatment sessions are required?

This can vary depending on skin and severity of the condition, but generally 4 to 6 sessions are required to achieve a good result. After that, the patient may need maintenance every few months depending on their skin type.

Do I need to use topical anesthesia? What about gels?

Yes. Anesthetics and cooling gels are needed with IPL treatment. However, some buildup of heat will be experienced and slight pinching may be felt. However with advanced technology the treatments have been reported as less painful.

Is it painful?

No, there is just a mild, very tolerable sensation of heat. 


When can I expect to see an improvement in my condition?

Improvement may be seen anywhere from 4-8 weeks depending on the severity of the condition and the patient’s skin’s reaction to the therapy. Some patient’s condition may worsen before it gets better. It is important to realize that there is no cure for acne, only maintenance, so further treatment may be required in the future.

Is it permanent, or will my acne come back?

There is no cure for acne, only maintenance, so further treatment may be required in the future. This will vary patient to patient and some will have greater results than others depending on the severity of their acne, their skin type and their daily maintenance.