Fraxel laser vs IPL
Tips & Articles for Your Skin

Fraxel laser vs IPL: Which Skin Treatment is Better?

Given the choice between Fraxel laser vs IPL treatments, we first recommend that you visit a dermatologist or specialist who can evaluate your skin and its condition. They can tell you which treatment is more suitable for you and which treatment will offer you better results.

Fraxel laser is generally recommended for treating wrinkles, dark spots and fine lines on the face. Its specialty is skin rejuvenation.

IPL is much more comprehensive. It is able to treat various skin conditions, such as broken capillaries, spider veins, redness caused by rosacea and, like Fraxel laser, sunspots.

The main difference between each of these technologies is the type of light they emit, and in turn, the layers of the skin it affects. Other differences include the duration of the procedures, the need for follow up treatments (or not) and the cost.

In this article we will delve into each of those aspects separately. So, if you are interested in knowing more about the differences between Fraxel laser vs IPL treatments, read on to find out.

Differences Between Fraxel laser vs IPL Treatments

There are actually more differences between Fraxel laser vs IPL than there are similarities. Although both technologies use light and its effects for cosmetic enhancements and to treat various skin conditions, they do so in totally different ways. Even the duration of the procedures, the recovery time and the side effects experienced are not the same.

Let's look at each of these differences in depth:

What is Fraxel Laser and How Does it Work?


The first thing to note about Fraxel is that although it is a laser, it is one of the most advanced and up to date lasers in terms of its effectiveness and potential side effects. A Fraxel laser procedure results in minimal pain. In fact, the superficial layers of the skin are cared for thanks to a cooling system integrated in Fraxel devices.

Fraxel lasers, while emitting light on the skin, also blow cool air which prevents the skin from overheating during the treatment. This feature is one that is nice, but not overly important. In fact, treatments on the face are generally no more than 15 minutes long meaning there’s no need to worry about your skin getting too hot.

The laser’s light directly targets deeper layers of the skin, creating the opportunity for cells (collagen and elastin) to begin to regenerate. In turn, this creates new skin cells that appear much younger and smoother. The best thing about this is, that even after six months, skin cells will continue to regenerate. This means that skin will continue to look beautiful and rejuvenated.

Fraxel laser technology works with the natural process of skin rejuvenation. It is thanks to this that it has positioned itself as the most up to date, advanced, comfortable and efficient skin rejuvenation treatments.

As light enters directly into the deeper layers of skin, it does so evenly over the area you are treating. Therefore, after recovery, Fraxel laser treatments soften the appearance of wrinkles, dark spots and other superficial imperfections.

What the Experience is Like During and After the Procedure?

fraxel laser vs IPL

During the procedure, you will feel only a small amount of discomfort as light begins to pass over your skin. Most specialized centers use topical anesthetic creams to decrease any pain, but this also depends on your personal preference. After the procedure, it’s normal for you to notice some redness on the treated area, as well as swelling for a few days.

So what will you experience during and after  the procedure?

As the days go by, these symptoms will subside and you may notice that your skin begins to peel. This is not something you need to worry about. It means that the area is healing and over the next 5 to 7 days your skin will become much softer and clearer. We recommend that you supplement your recovery with cold water compresses in the hours immediately after the treatment and the application of moisturizing creams in the days following. Follow the advice of your aesthetician when it comes to aftercare. 

Some dermatologists believe that a single treatment is enough to achieve satisfactory results. However, others suggest that complementing two or three sessions ultimately produces optimal and longer lasting results.

In short, Fraxel lasers are ideal for treating fine lines, thick wrinkles, dark spots or sun spots on the face, acne scars and for skin rejuvenation in general.

The Benefits of Fraxel Laser Treatment:

  • Effective in removing wrinkles (superficial or deep) and fine lines.
  • Effective in lightening dark spots.
  • Lightens the appearance of freckles, melasma and age spots.
  • Reduces the appearance of pores.
  • Improves scars caused by acne.
  • After recovery, your skin is much firmer with improved tone and texture.
  • Promotes the formation of collagen and elastin even in the months following your treatment.
  • Can treat precancerous lesions.
  • Can be combined with other treatments.
  • People over 50 can use it safely.

Fraxel Laser Treatment Aftercare:

  • Use facial cleansing products that are non-invasive and do not cause irritation to your skin at least twice a day.
  • After cleansing, it is important to apply moisturizer to the skin to keep it nourished and assist the recovery process.
  • Apply sunscreen, but be careful that it does not clog your pores. Remember, pores are open during the healing process.

What is Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and How Does it Work?

IPL vs Fraxel

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is a technology we are a little more familiar with. It does not use light directly on the skin, but emits multidirectional wavelengths. Unlike laser, it does not penetrate deeper layers of skin; it only reaches the second layer of skin, or the dermis.

When pulses of light emitted by devices with IPL technology collide with cells of the dermis, the pulses break down damaged cells and promote the growth of healthy ones, such as collagen and elastin. The cells destroyed are those that cause hyperpigmentation, sunspots or redness on the skin.

This type of treatment is considered non-ablative, which means that it is not as invasive as other treatments and the recovery period is much shorter. Based on these characteristics, some opinions classify IPL as a less effective treatment. This is not true. These features are pros rather than cons. You can check out IPL before and after here.

IPL is gentle on the skin, requiring at least six treatment sessions. These are necessary to allow the skin to improve gradually over time, avoiding damage and preventing a slow recovery. Between each session, you should leave about three weeks to a month. After each session, your skin may experience some redness, but this should ease up within a few hours.

The imperfections in the skin will become less and less visible during the recovery period as you progress through your course of treatment. This is because multidirectional light directly attacks the melanin in the skin. Melanin is what causes pigmentation. With IPL treatments  you can reduce freckles, dark sunspots and also areas reddened by rosacea and broken capillaries. Therefore IPL has many benefits.

Benefits of IPL treatment:

  • Effective for treating skin conditions such as acne, hyperpigmentation and those that involve redness (e.g. rosacea).
  • Non-ablative treatment, therefore post-treatment recovery takes just hours.
  • Reduces the appearance of freckles, sunspots, broken capillaries, redness and spider veins.
  • Improves acne scars.
  • Stimulates the creation of collagen and improves the texture of the skin making it softer.
  • Can be used on various areas of the body.
  • Treatment does not require anesthesia.

IPL Treatment Aftercare:

  • For IPL aftercare avoid exposing your skin to the sun.
  • Keep the treats hydrated.
  • Use sunscreen.
  • Clean the treated area every day.

Fraxel laser vs IPL: Which One Should I Choose?

Choosing between Fraxel laser vs IPL goes beyond making a simple decision. It’s highly recommended that you consult with a dermatologist or specialist to figure out which is the best procedure for you based on your skin, the goal of your treatment and your financial resources.

Treatments using IPL technology have a great advantage, as they are much cheaper overall. Often you can find discounts or promotional combos for IPL treatments.

Fraxel laser, although it is an ablative, is a deep treatment with significantly more noticeable side effects. However, many believe it offers better long terms results and it does require fewer treatment sessions.

If you prefer longevity and don’t mind obvious side effects during the recovery period, Fraxel laser treatments could work for you. However, if you want a less invasive treatment which is kinder to your skin and has a faster recovery period, go for treatments using IPL technology.

Wrap Up!

At most aesthetic centers, both options can currently be found. Depending on your skin condition and what your consultant suggests, you should be able to use either or even both technologies - perhaps Fraxel to treat wrinkles and IPL to improve your skin's texture and tone.

The most important thing about choosing a treatment is to take into account the aftercare of the procedure. Your skin will be exposed and therefore sensitive. Remember to use sun protection and follow the advice given by your consultant.

After reading all this, what do you think? Fraxel laser, IPL, or both?

Let us know!