What is Intense Pulse Light?

Intense Pulse light is commonly abbreviated IPL. It is also referred to as Photo Rejuvenation. IPL restores a fresh look to the skin and fades discolorations.

How does IPL work?

IPL systems work on the same principles as lasers in that light energy is absorbed into targeted cells in the skin. The light energy is converted to heat energy, which causes damage to the specific target area. IPL systems are different from lasers as IPL delivers many wavelengths of light to the skin, instead of just one wavelength as lasers do.

At Esprit® Cosmetic Surgeons in Portland we offer Intense Pulse Light treatments using the Cynosure ICON. Be aware that not all IPL devices are created equal. The Cynosure ICON is simply one of the most effective IPL platforms in the world.

What does IPL treat?

The Cynosure ICON Max-G handpiece can be used to reduce the appearance of red and brown discoloration of the skin. This MAX-G is very effective in treating sun damage, freckles, age spots, facial vessels, rosacea, acne, and angiomas. IPL treatments are performed on the face, neck, chest, hands, or other areas of the body that need improvement. This treatment gives a beautiful, healthy glow to the skin. You will see an improvement after just one treatment. The total number of treatments varies, between one and six, depending on each individual’s needs. 


Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun is the main cause of premature skin aging. Brown discoloration in the form of small irregular shaped spots appear on many areas of the body, including the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders, and hands. Intense pulsed light treatments are effective in reducing the appearance of sun damage on the face and body. Avoiding sun exposure and applying sun block will help keep your skin protected to prevent additional sun damage from occurring. 


Freckles are flat pigmented spots on the skin. They are harmless and usually appear on the sun exposed areas the body, like the cheeks, nose, chest, and shoulders. Freckles are more common in people with a fair complexion. They are more noticeable in the summer months and fade somewhat in the winter months. Intense pulsed light treatments are effective in reducing the appearance of freckles.


Age spots are commonly called liver spots or solar lentigos. They appear as flat, light brown, or dark brown spots. They vary in size and usually appear on the face, hands, shoulders, and arms- the areas most exposed to the sun. Intense pulsed light treatments are effective in reducing the appearance of age spots.


Broken Capillaries are also referred to as facial telengectasias. They are caused when tiny vessels under the skin are damaged or broken, resulting in small, red or purple lines within the skin. The common locations for broken capillaries are the nose, cheeks, and chin. The Icon Max-G IPL is an excellent treatment choice for broken capillaries.


Intense pulsed light is effective at decreasing pore size and reducing fine lines and wrinkles- This treatment is often call a “photo facial”. At Esprit, we often combine IPL with a fractionated laser treatment for patients needing wrinkle reduction. The IPL shines at decreasing pigment and balancing color and the laser excels at reducing wrinkles.

Is IPL right for me?

Most people are candidates for IPL treatments. During a consultation, which includes a Visia complexion skin analysis, we will design a custom treatment plan for you. Usually, you will see improvement after just one treatment. But, in most patients a series of four to six IPL sessions (spaced about one month apart) are needed to get the best results. IPL treatments are quick, usually lasting less than 30 minutes. Intense pulsed light treatment requires no anesthetic. We use the Zimmer skin cooling device to decrease any discomfort that may occur during IPL. After the treatment your skin may be mildly pink or red. You may have a sunburn-like sensation and mild swelling of the skin. You can return to your normal activities. Sun block of SPF 30 or higher is required after treatment and sun exposure should be avoided for several days.

We Are Here To Help

The best way to get your questions answered is to come in for an appointment.

Decrease the signs of skin aging with IPL! Schedule a consultation at our office in Portland to find out if Intense Pulse Light is right for you. Call (503) 783-0544 to get started!