Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)


At the Med Spa at Renee Burke, MD, our Barrington, IL medical spa, intense pulsed light, or IPL, is our go-to non-invasive treatment for a range of skin conditions, including sun damage, rosacea, brown spots, unsightly veins, and aging hands. This versatile, gentle procedure can improve your complexion in a few simple sessions.

How IPL Works

People often think of IPL as laser skin treatments because both target many of the same skin conditions, such as damage caused by a lifetime of sun exposure. IPL treatments, however, involve targeting the skin with a series of high-intensity pulses of broad-spectrum light. Lasers deliver a steady stream of energy to the treatment area. Both can be effective, and we explain the benefits of both during your consultation.

IPL treatments generally involve little to no downtime because the specialized pulses target brown spots, sun damage, vessels, and other conditions without harming the surrounding skin. The light delivered to your skin causes the damaged skin to slowly disappear through your body’s natural healing process.

Remarkable Results

*Photos courtesy of Cynosure.

Good IPL Candidates

Not everyone is a suitable candidate for IPL treatments. Patients with darker skin types—including people with tanned skin—risk skin discoloration from IPL treatments. Someone with pale to medium skin or olive-toned complexions who wants to improve the skin’s texture or minimize certain conditions can benefit from IPL procedures. Patients with darker skin tones can benefit from other treatments such as chemical peels or laser skin resurfacing. To ensure the best IPL treatment results we use the Palomar Icon™, which has a built-in Skintel Melanin Reader to detect your melanin density and accurately diagnose your skin tone. The machine also has a built-in advanced cooling system for added skin protection and comfort.

If you’re taking medication that makes you sensitive to light, including Accutane, you should avoid IPL procedures. During a consultation we can help you explore other procedures that might be better-suited for your individual needs. We also offer VISIA® Complexion Analysis for an in-depth assessment of your skin.

Dr. Renee M. Burke
Dr. Renee Burke

As a double board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Burke uses the latest techniques and technology to bring your vision to life. Her artistic eye and years of experience produce stunning results that enhance your natural beauty.

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What Conditions Can IPL Treat?

We use intense pulsed light treatments for patients concerned about:

  • Sun damage
  • Vascular lesions
  • Rosacea
  • Pigmented lesions (freckles, brown spots, birthmarks)
  • Age spots on the hands
  • Acne vulgaris

Besides treating these specific conditions, multiple treatments with IPL also stimulate collagen production—that’s the substance beneath your skin that provides strength and structure. Increased collagen production can often improve the texture of your skin.

What to Expect

Intense Pulsed Light Machine

We use the Palomar Icon™ platform for IPL treatments at the Med Spa at Renee Burke, MD, giving us the ability to customize treatments to meet the needs of each patient. We can treat the entire face or just specific areas, along with all areas of the body. IPL is an excellent choice to treat age spots on the hands, which many people overlook when thinking about ways to look more youthful.

We create a treatment plan based on the skin conditions being treated and the aesthetic goals of our patients. Patients typically can see initial results after the first IPL treatment, but usually a series of 3 to 6 treatment sessions are needed to create optimal results. Treatment times vary depending on the specific condition, but generally last between 15 to 30 minutes.

IPL treatments are popular because there is virtually no downtime associated with treatments. You may experience some redness and a sensation similar to a mild sunburn immediately following the procedure. Minor swelling is also possible. These side effects typically can last anywhere from 2 to 24 hours but won’t prevent you from returning to work or any other activities scheduled for the day. Be sure to keep your skin protected from excessive sun exposure since it can be especially sensitive after treatment.

Getting The Best of Your Results

During the first several days following an IPL treatment you may see freckles or other dark spots become even darker. This shouldn’t cause any alarm. It’s normal and indicates the success of the treatment. As stated earlier, redness is another common side effect, but generally lasts less than a day.

Over the next 2 or 3 weeks you’ll begin to notice the results reveal themselves. Dark spots and pigmented lesions gradually fade and a more even, consistent skin tone appears. Because treatment sessions are usually scheduled several weeks apart, it’s important to keep your skin protected from the sun to maintain your results. You can explore the range of skincare products we offer to find the best sunscreen available.

Schedule Your Consultation

Individuals considering skin rejuvenation treatments such as IPL travel from Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, and surrounding areas to get treatments at our practice. Request a consultation to discuss the procedure with Dr. Burke or call our office at (847) 382-4400 to schedule an appointment.