Laser-based devices for aesthetic treatments are the industry “gold-standard,” although the efficacy of devices based on Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) technology is improving and the gap between IPLs and lasers is closing. Laser technology is expected to remain the only effective light-based treatment in specialist areas such as large pigmented lesion removal, tattoo removal and deep vascular treatments, but IPL-based devices are becoming more popular for the more mainstream aesthetic treatments, especially in the high growth market of skin rejuvenation.

Medical experts, who have used both IPL devices and lasers, would point out the following reasons why they prefer lasers:

  • It is harder to predict results with IPL due to its broad-spectrum of light and multiple wavelengths
  • IPLs are not safe to use around the eye
  • IPLs are not safe on the skin of color and tanned patients

Despite not quite matching the performance of some premium laser-based systems, IPL technology has its advantages for the core aesthetic treatments such as hair removal and skin rejuvenation.

Various sources and study groups forecast IPL-based devices to enjoy growth rates of 10-12% in hair removal and skin rejuvenation. Unlike for laser-based devices, the IPL-based device market is more accessible to non-physicians, and hence IPL-based devices are commonly found in spas across the U.S. and Europe.

As IPL-based devices are not designed to treat complex skin conditions, practitioners do not have to be as highly trained as they do for laser-based devices. IPL-based devices typically come with two simple-to-use handsets, one for each of the most popular applications, hair removal and skin rejuvenation. Adding to the appeal of IPL-based devices for a non-physician is the lower price with respect to a laser-based system, whilst maintaining the core applications essential to a light-based aesthetic practice or medical spa.