IPL technology: a review

Lasers Surg Med. 2003;32(2):78-87. doi: 10.1002/lsm.10145.


Background and objectives: Intense pulsed light (IPL) systems are high-intensity light sources, which emit polychromatic light. Unlike laser systems, these flashlamps work with noncoherent light in a broad wavelength spectrum of 515-1,200 nm. These properties allow for great variability in selecting individual treatment parameters and adapting to different types of skin types and indications. The purpose of this article was to critically review international medical publications of the many indication in which IPL technology can be used, including our own evaluations and experiences.

Study design/materials and methods: The range of therapeutic uses for high-intensity flashlamps was reviewed, ranging from benign cavernous hemangiomas, benign venous malformations, essential telangiectasias, leg telangiectasias, poikiloderma of Civatte, and port-wine stains to pigmented lesions, cosmetically undesired hypertrichosis, and facial rhydids. The relative benefits and risks were discussed in detail and compared with other laser systems.

Results: Because of the wide spectrum of potential combinations of wavelengths, pulse durations, pulse frequency, and fluences, a great deal of experience is required when using IPL technology. Proper patient selection and critical diagnostics serve to keep the adverse effects of the treatment to a minimum.

Conclusions: The distinctive technical conditions involved combine to make IPL technology an alternative and auxiliary treatment option to existing laser systems and conventional therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Facial Dermatoses / therapy
  • Hair Removal / methods
  • Hemangioma / therapy
  • Humans
  • Phototherapy / adverse effects
  • Phototherapy / instrumentation
  • Phototherapy / methods*
  • Pigmentation Disorders / therapy
  • Port-Wine Stain / therapy
  • Rothmund-Thomson Syndrome / therapy
  • Skin Aging / radiation effects
  • Skin Neoplasms / therapy
  • Telangiectasis / therapy