Treating Acne with Intense Pulsed Light: The Basics Behind the Tech

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), acne vulgaris (otherwise simply known as acne) is the most common skin disease among Americans, especially teens. While a proper skin care regimen can help clear up the skin in cases of mild acne (along with help from topical products), severe cases may need more potent assistance. These days, a growing number of acne suffers turn to IPL or intense pulsed light treatments.

Unhappy young woman finding an acne on a cheek, sits before a mirror.

To understand how IPL treats acne, it helps to know how acne occurs in the first place. Special glands in the skin’s follicles, known as sebaceous glands, produce an oily substance called sebum, which is responsible for preventing the skin from drying out. As more sebum is produced, every pore’s lining renews itself and sheds off dead skin cells. Dead skin cells then combine with the excess sebum to create what is called a plug. Bacteria that thrive on the skin can infect clogged pores, leading to the characteristic red and sore growth.

This is where IPL comes in. Also known as photodynamic therapy (PDT), IPL works by directing pulses of light into the epidermis or the skin’s upper layer. The light pulses are either absorbed by the hemoglobin in the blood and converted to heat (which then destroys the vessels that feed the sebaceous glands, halting sebum production), or targeted at specific acne-causing bacteria. If administered properly, IPL may also address acne scars.

Acne scarring typically creates uneven skin coloration in the form of redness or dark spots. IPL is delivered in varying intensities, which can be adjusted to target pigment cells and even out discoloration. As a result, scar visibility is reduced and skin texture appears more uniform. Take note, though, that IPL does not smooth out raised scars or fill out indented ones.

If you’ve suffered from acne for far too long, and various treatments have failed, you may want to talk to a board-certified dermatologist about how IPL can help your condition. Experience the skin-clearing benefits of intense pulsed light at Tijuana spas like the Baja Medi Spa, and see your unsightly zits meet their end once and for all.

(Source: IPL Acne Treatment,, January 28, 2015)