Why IPL / BBL is NOT the Answer for Everyone

Written On May 20, 2022

In Columbus, there are many Med Spas offering IPL/BBL treatments – so this is something we’re commonly asked about at Vérité. Dr. Kademian has chosen NOT to carry this device in her arsenal, and there are many reasons for this decision. In addition, there continues to be confusion about this touted “one and done device” that we feel important to clarify.

Whether you’ve had an IPL/BBL treatment or are considering one, read on to learn more about this device, the risks, and how we’re able to treat the same skin conditions (and more) as an IPL/BBL  – often with more precision.

What is IPL/BBL?

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and BBL (Broad Band Light) Therapy are devices that deliver light energy to the skin to trigger cell rejuvenation. 

These are NOT lasers—Lasers are a specific wavelength of energy that can be fine tuned to target specific skin conditions with more precision, whereas IPL/BBL use light energy to heat the skin in a more general manner.   

IPL/BBL is used to treat common skin conditions such as sun spots, redness, discoloration, etc.

Why is IPL/BBL so common?

When Medispas are looking into devices, they want to purchase options that are able to treat a wide range of skin conditions. It’s simply a good business decision to invest in a product that will give the Spa more value for the money spent.

It’s also a relatively quick treatment, so businesses are able to perform many in one day, which maximizes profitability.

What are the RISKS of IPL/BBL? 

While this device can be used to treat many skin conditions, caution is advised as not every patient or skin condition is a fit for this treatment. 

IPL/BBL is not particularly safe for darker skin types, especially Types 5-6, or a Type 3/4 who is prone to hyperpigmentation and melasma.

Note: Skin Types are categorized on a scale of 1-6 (1 being the most fair and 6 being the deepest black).

IPL/BBL puts a tremendous amount of heat into the skin in a nonselective way which can trigger skin cells to pigment, especially in skin Types 4-6. 

Very experienced hands could treat a skin Type 4 and get good results, but this requires extensive understanding of the device and its nuances, in addition to what is needed pre- and post-treatment to optimize results and minimize side effects. 

When treating brown spots, the lighter the spot, the harder it is to treat. So for a low contrast (lighter) skin spot, you can only get so far with this device. The setting needs to be much higher to dial into these lighter spots, which incites more heat into the skin, increasing the risk for hyperpigmentation and melasma. 

IPL/BBL for Melasma

IPL/BBL often only temporarily improves melasma. Dr. Kademian has seen many patients who have reported an initial improvement in melasma after an IPL/BBL treatment, only for it to come back WORSE than before—an unfortunate and all too common side effect of treating the wrong skin types and conditions with this device.

Why Vérité chose NOT to offer this device

After more than a decade of experience in laser and light devices and collaboration with multiple Board Certified Dermatologists across the country, Dr. Kademian carefully selected her tool box of treatments when opening Vérité to ensure the safest and most effective treatments for many skin conditions in all skin types. 

She chose to offer specific wavelength lasers that are dialed in to treat concerns safely with precision. 

Clear + Brilliant Laser Treatment at Vérité Dermatology Boutique in Columbus, Ohio
Clear + Brilliant Laser Treatment at Vérité Dermatology Boutique in Columbus, Ohio

Why? Lasers have the accuracy to TARGET a particular skin issue or condition (melanin, vessels, sun spots, collagen and much more) because the wavelength used is selectively absorbed by the target we’re treating. For example, our Clear + Brilliant laser can precisely and safely treat melanin which is a total game changer for patients!

We’re able to treat everything that an IPL/BBL can treat, but even more precisely! For us, that’s a WIN because we’re determined to give our patients the best possible options that always minimize side effects. 

Takeaways

  • Be weary of good marketing! IPL/BBL is definitely NOT the “gold standard” for treating skin issues, which is what you’ll often see and hear in its advertising. Instead, it is a “catchall” device that can treat lots of things, but it is not the most precise device for treating these issues, nor is it safe for darker skin tones. 
  • Go to someone who has access to—and expert experience using—a wide range of devices, from light therapy to lasers. This helps to ensure the clinician uses the best device for your skin concern, not just the device they have on hand!
  • For the right person with the right skin, IPL/BBL can be a great option, but it does have limitations.