IPL services are no longer offered by Skin HQ

IPL or intense pulsed light and is used for treating skin conditions

IPL can be used in the treatment of the following skin conditions:

See also:

IPL treatment for rosacea

Rosacea is a common inflammatory condition of the skin, which often results in red facial flushing and accompanying telangiectasia (thread veins).

It most often affects those aged 30 to 60, especially those of Celtic origin with fair skin and blue eyes.

Rosacea responds well to intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments, but cannot be cured. Maintenance treatments are often necessary to control the condition.

IPL light is matched to pigments in the blood so that only the blood vessels are destroyed with minimal damage to the surrounding skin and tissue.

Following treatment, the damaged vessels are absorbed by the body leaving little to no trace of the lesion on the skin.

IPL therapy to treat skin pigmentation

Intense pulsed light (IPL) is a technology that is well suited to help remove unwanted skin blemishes.

Laser therapy is also effective at treating unwanted skin pigmentation.

Both IPL and active Q-switched laser use wavelengths of heated light that selectively target the pigmented area of skin. The main advantage of IPL and laser treatments are that the skin pigmentation is able to be targeted precisely without damaging the surrounding tissue.

Pigmented skin lesions that can be treated with IPL and laser include freckles, solar lentigines (also known as liver spots, age spots or as we like to call them wisdom spots), seborrhoeic keratosis, cafe au lait macules, and naevus of ota.

Skin pigmentation in the face, neck, chest and hands can be treated safely and effectively with IPL. The added benefit of IPL technology is that is also works to activate cells in the skin called fibroblasts which stimulate collagen remodelling and new collagen production.

This helps to rejuvenate the skin, improving its texture, visibly minimising pores and reducing superficial fine lines and wrinkles to reveal a more youthfully hydrated appearance. If required, a dermoscopic check of the skin lesion or lesions will be performed by one of our doctors to ensure that the lesion does not contain signs of cancer or require another method of removal.

Pigmentation treatment notes

Please note that we do not treat melasma (hormonal pigmentation).
We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

Types of pigmented skin lesions

As the largest and most exposed organ of the human body, it is hardly surprising that our skin is also sensitive to damage and change – particularly pigmentary problems. With time, most people acquire pigmentary lesions of some kind or another, whilst others are born with congenital pigmented skin lesions. Some, but not all, pigmented skin lesions respond to IPL treatment.

Ephelides (freckles)

Small, discrete pale brown pigmented speck typically seen on sun exposed skin. They are most common in fair skinned individuals.

Solar Lentigines

A solar lentigo is a brown macule occurring as a result of UV damage, seen most commonly on the face and the backs of the hands. Multiple lesions are termed lentigines.
Solar lentigines are sometimes called age spots or liver spots but have nothing to do with the liver.

Vascular lesions

Various forms of vascular lesions, such as telangiectasia (thread veins), are amongst the most common cosmetic concerns.

Light based treatment of vascular lesions requires the delivery of sufficient energy to the vessel in order to thermocoagulate the vessel with minimal damage to the surrounding skin. Following treatment, the damaged vessels are absorbed by the body and little or no trace of the lesion remains.


Telangiectasias which are also known as spider veins or thread veins are small dilated blood vessels.

They can occur on the legs, and are also commonly seen on the face, especially around the cheeks and nose of adults with fair skin. The predisposition to developing telangiectasia is usually heredity, although they can also be related to such factors as skin ageing and photodamage, steroid use, and pregnancy.

Facial telangiectasia usually respond very well to IPL treatment with only one or two treatments

Spider Naevi

A spider naevus is a type of Telangiectasia and characteristically has a central red papule with feeding capillary legs. If the central vessel is depressed, the lesion will blanch or spread out. Spider Naevi commonly occur on the face or on the backs of the hands and forearms. They are common in children and pregnant women.

Spider naevi respond well to IPL treatment as well as Laser.

Campbell de Morgan Spots

Campbell de Morgan lesions (also known as cherry angiomas) are small, red, raised spots that most often appear on the trunk. They do not blanch when pressure is applied. They appear spontaneously and tend to increase in number in middle age. Their cause is unknown but they respond well to IPL treatment.

Port Wine Stain

A port wine stain (or nevus flammeus) usually presents as a large flat patch of pink, red or purple skin with well-defined borders. At birth, the surface of the port-wine stain is flat, but in time it may become thickened and darker in colour. The face is most commonly affected although they can occur anywhere on the body.

Facial lesions tend to respond best to IPL treatment, while lesions on the hands and limbs are more difficult to treat. Complete clearance is generally only seen in approximately 10% of cases, 70% will seen a degree of fading, but 20% of clients will see very little improvement. neck and chest, resulting in mottled pigmentation, dilation of fine blood vessels.

Using IPL for Skin Rejuvenation

Many people from their mid-thirties now suffer from premature aging largely due to sun-damage and other lifestyle factors. This sun damage often results in dull, rough skin, with enlarged pores and lines and wrinkles.

Mottled skin tone and areas of abnormal pigmentation, along with vascular irregularities such as telengiectases, are also common. Both intense pulsed light (IPL) and photodynamic therapy (PDT)  can address the aspects of premature aging outlined above due to their ability to promote fibroblast activity and subtly restructure collagen within the skin.

Light Assisted Skin Rejuvenation
As with all IPL procedures it is important to gauge a client’s expectations and establish realistic outcomes. IPL and laser skin rejuvenation is not a substitute for surgery, ablative resurfacing or other procedures which improve deep wrinkles and sagging skin. It is however appropriate for people who wish for a more even skin tone and show mild to moderate signs of sun damage and photo aging.

The benefit of non-invasive skin rejuvenation with IPL is the relatively small risk of adverse effects and short ‘down time’ which enables busy people to return to daily activities. The primary aim of skin rejuvenation with IPLs and lasers is to induce the healing response of the skin and promote new collagen formation. Typically at each session the entire face (or hands, neck or décolleté) is treated.

This leads to a far more consistent result than limiting treatment to an isolated problem area. Treatment sessions typically take 30 minutes and a course of six treatments is recommended.

About our Lumina IPL machine

The Lumina is a source of high energy pulsed radiation for medical, and, in particular, dermatological applications. The system has been developed as a “platform” for a range of intense pulsed light or laser outputs enabling a number of different treatment applications.

Based on a state-of-the-art flashlamp technology, the Lumina medical system is capable of delivering pulse energies of over 250J from a small, compact unit, with the wavelength emissions varying in bands from 350 nm up to 1100 nm (depending upon the hand piece or module attached).

The Lumina Intense Pulsed Light or IPL system operates according to Anderson and Parrish’s principle of selective photothermolysis which states that, “in order to best target a lesion the wavelength must be well absorbed by the target chromophore and the pulse duration must be shorter than the target’s thermal relaxation time”. For hair removal and pigmented lesions, the target chromophore is melanin, for vascular lesions, haemoglobin is the target chromophore. In general, darker skins will absorb more light and therefore create more heat during treatment. Delivering the light over a longer period of time will reduce peak temperatures to the skin and reduce the chance of side effects.

The IPL Lumina software has preset pulse durations for different skin types, which can be optimised by experienced operators. The light is delivered over a number of pulses, spaced by a certain delay time measured in milliseconds The number of pulses and the pulse delay can be altered according to variations in the target chromophore and skin type. This enables the targeted tissue to absorb the light energy, while protecting the epidermis.

Who performs the IPL treatments?

IPL is conducted by a registered nurse (RN). IPL consultations and treatments will be carried out by an experienced Skin HQ RN.

The benefit to the customer is both a professional and safe service.

Our advice is before you undergo treatments for conditions such as unwanted skin pigmentation or removal of vascular lesions you should always check to ensure the operator is a registered nurse and not a beautician.

Consultation process

During a consultation a full medical history should be obtained with particular attention to any contraindications. It is recommended that:

  • All clients undergo a full consultation prior to treatment
  • The consultation will be used to determine suitability for treatment and those who are not suitable due to skin type
  • The client will be provided with written information detailing pre and post treatment care and a consent form to read and sign
  • The client’s medical history and treatment expectations are discussed along with the likely outcome and treatment costs.

The following key points will be included with each IPL consultation:

  • Multiple treatments are required
  • The effectiveness of treatment is often related to skin type, pain tolerance, amount of chromophore within the target and other additional factors
  • The cost of treatment
  • The incidence of discomfort or pain
  • You be given the opportunity to ask questions and only when all questions have been answered satisfactorily a consent form will then be signed.

Skin treatment aftercare advice

Immediately after any treatment, the skin should be cooled. Cooling can improve client comfort and reduce post treatment redness and/or swelling. Application of a moisturizing cream is used and you will be advised of post treatment care and be provided with written take-home instructions which include:

  • Avoidance of sun exposure or tanning beds for four weeks following treatment. If a patient must spend time in the sun then the use of sunblock with SPF 30+ - 50+ is recommended
  • Avoidance of bleaching creams or perfumed products for 24 hours
  • Avoid hot baths, showers, steam rooms, saunas for 24 hours
  • Keep the area clean and dry
  • If the area feels hot or swollen, the use of cool packs or aloe vera gel etc can improve client comfort and reduce erythema and swelling
  • If blistering or crusting occurs, do not pick or scratch the treated area
  • Advise clients to return to the clinic if any unexpected skin reaction occurs for further post treatment advice.

Treatment sensation (pain)

Treatment is mildly uncomfortable and should be described as such. Depending upon pain tolerance, you may feel minimal discomfort to mild stinging or pain. The sensation is often likened to snapping the skin with an elastic band.

Active cooling of the epidermis briefly prior to treating or during treatment can be effective in reducing discomfort as well as side effects.

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