What Are the Pros and Cons of IPL for Freckles?

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  • Written By: Kathleen Howard
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2019
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Intense pulsed light (IPL) is a treatment that uses a powerful, broad-spectrum light to destroy uneven melanin and stimulate collagen production. There are both pros and cons associated with using IPL for freckles. The primary advantage is that, in many cases, IPL is effective in removing freckles safely, quickly and almost painlessly. Some patients, however, do experience blistering, bleeding, scarring, hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation as a result of IPL. To ensure positive results, patients should consult a physician to determine whether they are a good candidate for this treatment.

There are two main causes of freckles: sun damage and genetics. Both of these factors impact the number, severity and types of freckles a person develops. IPL eliminates freckles by destroying the melanin cells that make these spots stand out from the surrounding skin. When using a laser for freckles, a physician will direct light pulses over the freckled area. The focused light penetrates the dermis and destroys some of the pigmented cells.


One of the main benefits of using ILP for freckles is that it is an effective way to even the skin tone. In many cases, one treatment is enough to make a noticeable difference in the skin. People who have large areas of dark freckles may need between three and five treatments before they achieve their desired results. Still, many patients find the end result worth the additional treatment sessions. Using IPL for freckles typically produces faster and more positive results than those achieved through the use of skin lightening creams and other treatments.

Another benefit is that IPL is non-invasive. While some patients might find the treatment uncomfortable, IPL is not usually painful. After treatment, a person’s skin might be slightly red, swollen and irritated. Yet, in most cases patients are able to go back to work immediately after treatment. Many find the limited recovery time and mild side effects to be significant benefits.

While there are many benefits to using IPL for freckles, there are also disadvantages. In rare cases patients have experienced blistering, scarring and bleeding as a result of IPL. To lower the risk of these side effects, patients should choose a physician that is experienced in removing freckles with IPL.

Using IPL for freckles might also result in hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation. These side effects typically appear in patients with dark skin tones. Since IPL lasers are attracted to melanin in the skin, it can be difficult to use a laser for freckles without removing excess melanin. To prevent unwanted side effects, patients should discuss whether they are a good candidate for IPL before deciding to undergo treatment.

Another disadvantage of using IPL for freckles is the cost. IPL can be expensive, especially since many patients must undergo several treatments. While lightening creams and other treatments are usually less effective, they are a cheaper option for lightening freckles. To determine whether IPL is the best treatment option, patients should consider all of their options before choosing IPL.


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Post 4

I had IPL done, with great results. My arms were covered with dark freckles, some of which blistered however, I let them dry out without touching them for the first few days then applied polysporin triple antibiotic for few days. My freckles completely gone and redness almost gone. Every day, there is a change it took between 10 to 14 days for best results. The itching was unbelievable during the process but it was all worth it. I did not scratch once.

Post 3

I did not have a good experience with IPL. I have Asian skin and the treatment caused hyper-pigmentation and darkening on some areas of my skin. The freckles did fall off after the procedure, the discoloration occurred later. I also had swelling and redness and could not go to work for a while.

I went to an experienced doctor so I'm still not sure if I reacted abnormally to IPL or if IPL is a bad choice for certain skin types.

Post 2

I want to try IPL but I can't afford it. I'm sure it's a better option than chemical peels which are painful or bleaching creams that can cause cancer.

Post 1

I think that IPL works better for people with fever freckles that are not very dark. Those with many freckles and darker freckles may not be as happy with the treatment.

I know several people who have used IPL for freckles. A friend had it done and was very happy with the results. She didn't have any complications and almost all of her freckles were gone after just one treatment. My cousin, on the other hand, did not have such a good experience. Some of her freckles blistered before scabbing over and her face looked quite bad. Her recovery took several weeks and some of the freckles did not even fade.

It's a good idea to consult with a doctor before deciding to go with this treatment.

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