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FAQ About IPL Therapy

Why is it called IPL? Or intense pulsed light therapy?

IPL is a non-laser, broad wavelength, high-intensity flash of light that is applied to the skin while the intensity, duration and wavelength is delivered in staged pulses based on skin type and treatment goals. Thus the abbreviation IPL for Intense Pulse Light.

What are some of the other major try treatments compared to IPL?

I would liken it to Lipiflow, which is designed to heat/break up the thickened meibum and express it forward through the glands. IPL requires manual gland expressions, which is a big difference in comfort for the patient.

How does light therapy compare to radio frequency therapy?

Both treatments are designed to provide aesthetic benefits to patients and treat underlying MGD. Radio Frequency therapy treats MGD by turning kinetic energy into thermal energy, thus delivering heat to the deeper dermis, liquifying the thickened meibum for expression. RF also stimulates and remodels the collagen of the treated area somewhat like IPL treatments. RF therapy is also painless, and may cause temporary redness and or swelling.

Is this something found at an optometrist’s office?

IPL’s may be found in a dermatology practice or cosmetic surgeons offices due to its use for aesthetics and rosacea treatments.

Do most optometrists treat their patients directly with IPL or do their technicians?

I have only seen doctors perform this on their respective patients, not technicians.

What are the risks of undergoing an IPL treatment?

Sunburn is the most likely risk, but if properly covered with a high SPF sunblock, sunglasses, and visor/hat, that risk should be minimized.

Patients may experience redness, swelling, bruising, and possibly discomfort. All of these risks can be minimalized with cooling and soothing creams.

What are the benefits of having a long-term IPL treatment plan for example three to four treatments over the year?

With IPL you get photocoagulation, photo-modulation and photo-rejuvenation around the eyes. If done in incremental monthly treatments, IPL will treat abnormal blood vessels associated with MGD, as well as maintain a decreased bacterial and demodex mite burden, stimulate stem cells to act and perform more youthfully, and stimulate collagen production.

If IPL is very effective, why don’t other optometrists utilize this technology in their practice? Is it that unique?

IPL equipment has routinely been found in dermatology practices and is used to treat rosacea and acne. Your primary care optometrist does not typically treat those medical issues or do aestethics. Having access to an IPL machine is unique in that it goes hand in hand with a sub-specialty practice like dry eye clinics.

How much does an IPL treatment cost?

IPL’s have to be done over 3-4 sessions for optimum effect. The cost for a series of 4 IPL treatments is $1200. There is only a 1-time treatment thereafter. The usual follow-up treatment is 6-12 months depending on the patient’s response.