Lasers, IPL, what’s the difference?

Article medically reviewed by Dr. Gavin Chan (MBBS, cosmetic physician, liposuctionist)

Templestowe Lower and Berwick Clinics

Dr. Gavin Chan has a background in intensive care, anaesthesia, and emergency medicine. Since 2004, Dr. Chan has provided cosmetic procedures, including anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers, liposuction, fat transfer, skin needling, and laser treatments. He is a doctor trainer for various dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections. Read More

As a doctor, I’m often asked what is the difference between laser and IPL or Intense Pulsed Light, and what is best for different skin conditions. At The Victorian Cosmetic Institute, we firmly believe that laser is the superior modality for skin treatments and tend to be able to treat a particular problem more specifically than IPL. Our current laser count is 13. One might ask why we have so many lasers? The answer is; because each laser has a specific function and target, and thus various lasers can be used to treat a variety of skin conditions more specifically than a single laser or IPL system. Lasers are a single wavelength of light as opposed to IPL that is broad band of various light wavelengths. As a result, each laser wavelength has a certain target in the skin, whereas IPL is less specific than this. We have a specific laser for the treatment of pigmentation, acne, capillaries, hair, wrinkles, tattoos, scarring, leg veins – each designed specifically for the job.

The other issue is who operates these lasers. Our doctors have specialised training in the use of lasers for the treatment of various skin conditions. However, in Victoria, there are currently no regulations as to who can use a laser. There will probably be changes to this in the near future, with regulations that will be put in place so that only doctors will be allowed to operate lasers. This is the case in some other states of Australia.

Overall, when choosing a laser provider, you should ask; what laser technology do they own, do they use laser or IPL, and who is operating the laser, so you can get the best treatment for your skin.

For more information about lasers.