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IPL vs Laser Skin Resurfacing: How Do They Compare?

Injectable fillers work well to address volume loss, but when it comes to improving the overall quality of your skin, you may need to turn to laser and light treatments. Laser skin resurfacing and intense pulsed light (IPL)—also referred to as a photofacial—are both great choices for improving skin’s general tone and texture. The board-certified dermatologists serving Albuquerque, along with the rest of the team at Western Dermatology Consultants—explain that there are some key differences between the two treatments.

Melanin is the pigment that provides color for the hair and skin—making it a key element in these light-based treatments. Lasers and IPL work in a similar way, giving off energy that converts into heat when absorbed by melanin, thereby damaging lesions, hair follicles, or broken blood vessels without harming the surrounding skin. The dead cells are gradually sloughed away and replaced by healthier, new ones. This energy can also promote cell turnover.

IPL is a light therapy designed for minimizing irregularities such as age spots, sun damage, freckles, broken blood vessels, redness, blotchiness, rosacea, and hair on the face or body. It works like a camera flash, sending out multiple, scattered wavelengths of broad-spectrum light in a spectrum of colors.

Laser skin resurfacing, with devices such as the Palomar laser for fractional skin resurfacing, is generally used on more severe types of skin damage and very thick hair due to its higher intensity. It involves applying one wavelength of focused light to precisely destroy specific skin concerns. A more dramatic improvement is possible, and the full effects may be revealed faster and with fewer sessions than with IPL. Lasers are effective on surgical or acne scars, lines and wrinkles, brown spots, and enlarged pores.

Certain lasers can cause more discomfort and require more downtime than IPL, as intense pulsed light does not remove the outer layer of the skin in the treatment area. Laser skin resurfacing is typically suitable for a wider range of skin tones and is safer for darker complexions when compared to IPL.

If you’re hoping to improve the appearance of your skin, a member of our team can help you decide on the best laser or light treatment for your needs. To get started today, call Albuquerque’s Western Dermatology Consultants at 505-855-9267 or write online to request a consultation.

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