Published: Jan 20, 2022
IPL vs Fraxel: How Do You Choose the Right Treatment?
You have probably come across the two popular skin treatments IPL and Fraxel. These are both leading skin therapy treatments, yet they have some distinct differences and offer unique benefits. In this article, we will explain how both treatments work, their advantages, and how to decide which one is best for you. Learn more about IPL vs Fraxel below.
Is IPL The Same As Fractional Laser?
The short answer is no; they are not the same. The most significant difference is that Fraxel uses CO2 lasers directed onto the skin to increase collagen production and stimulate the growth of new skin cells from the inside out. IPL, on the other hand, penetrates the skin with short bursts of broad-spectrum light to remove a range of unwanted imperfections such as spots, hair, and other hyperpigmentations.
Each treatment method gives different results, so it’s essential to understand the difference before choosing between IPL and Fraxel. For example, as the Fraxel laser technology produces collagen, it reduces wrinkles and fine lines better than IPL. However, IPL can create a smoother and healthier-looking skin complexion than Fraxel can.
Fraxel and IPL for Different Body Areas and Skin Types
Fraxel lasers are suitable to use on the face, chest, hands, and neck. They are also safe for any skin type and color. However, the IPL treatment is not suitable for everyone. Instead, it is most effective on light to medium skin tones because IPL lightwaves heat melatonin in the skin. Some darker skin types are not suitable for IPL as they have high levels of melanin. This can make IPL unsafe as there is a significant increase in the risk of burning in dark skin tones.
Fraxel can give more precise results than IPL. Because it uses a laser, it can target only the selected areas on the skin, leaving the surrounding skin undamaged.
Another key difference between IPL vs. Fraxel is the price. Fraxel treatments are considerably more expensive than IPL. For example, one Fraxel session can cost as much as $1,000, compared to $500 for one session of IPL. However, it’s worth noting that you will generally require more sessions of IPL than Fraxel; therefore, the end cost may not be much different.
The side effects for both treatments are similar. However, the recovery time from IPL is usually shorter than with Fraxel. Each Fraxel treatment requires a few days to one week for redness and swelling to reduce as the skin renews.
In general, most people can return to work the day after an IPL treatment. However, if you choose Fraxel, you should expect to take a couple of days off work while you recover.
Benefits Of Fraxel Laser
In general, those with aging and sun-damaged skin will experience the most benefits from Fraxel. Here are the main advantages:
- It significantly reduces fine lines and wrinkles
- It tightens the skin and creates a more youthful appearance.
- It minimizes scars, including acne scars
- It minimizes other unwanted facial marks such as brown spots, sun spots, or enlarged pores
- There are several treatment options available to suit your unique needs and skin condition.
- The FDA and Health Canada also approve Fraxel as a treatment for precancerous lesions.
As Fraxel minimizes the appearance of a wide range of imperfections, this results in a more even skin tone & texture. However, the chance of seeing these benefits increases with the more sessions you have. What’s more, multiple sessions will give longer-lasting results.
Benefits of IPL
One of the best benefits of IPL is that it can treat multiple skin conditions simultaneously. This is because, unlike lasers, IPL produces more than one wavelength of pulsating light.
- Reduces brown spots, sun damage, and darkened blotches - IPL treatment targets melanin and hemoglobin in the skin, which helps to release this hyperpigmentation. However, IPL is most effective for light skin tones with dark hyperpigmentation.
- Reduces redness in acne, rosacea, spider veins, and broken capillaries.
- Reduces the appearance of fine lines, scars, and wrinkles - IPL light waves gently heat the deeper layers of skin, stimulating collagen production, although not as much as with Fraxel.
- Anti-aging - IPL photo facial technology directly combats photoaging from harmful UV rays, making your skin brighter, smoother, and younger-looking.
- Quick recovery - Most people find their skin feels sensitive like it is sunburned after an IPL session. Still, this quickly subsides after a day or two.
- Reduces acne and evens skin tone - IPL is the best treatment for acne as it effectively removes the redness, creates smoother skin, and even outs the skin tone. Therefore, it is a fantastic treatment for creating that highly desired flawless appearance and a general ‘glow’ to your face.
How Many Fraxel Treatments Do I Need To See Results?
Because Fraxel uses laser technology, you should see results immediately after one session. Even so, most therapists will recommend three to six sessions to achieve maximum results. The exact number will depend on the imperfection the laser is targeting and the size of the targeted area.
Fraxel lasers have two different wavelength settings; 1927 nanometer and 1550 nanometer. 1550 penetrates deeper into the skin than 1927. Therefore, if you opt for 1550, you will experience a longer recovery time. Still, you could potentially see more enhanced results with fewer treatments needed.
Other factors will impact how fast you will see results too. For example, choosing a highly experienced therapist who uses the latest technology will result in a much more desirable outcome than opting for a cheaper therapist with less expertise and older equipment.
IPL & Hair Removal
As well as treating various skin conditions, IPL is a highly effective hair removal solution and can be used on all parts of the body. Many people will choose to have IPL treatment on their face to target skin problems and remove any facial hair simultaneously.
Even so, you should note that IPL is not very effective at removing blond, grey, and light-colored hair. Those with dark hair will have the best results with IPL hair removal.
How Many IPL Treatments Do I Need To See Results?
As we previously mentioned, it takes longer to see the results of an IPL treatment than a Fraxel one. You will also require more sessions to complete the treatment. How many sessions you will need to see results will depend on what skin condition you are treating and the severity of that condition.
There are a couple of things you might notice after an IPL session that may concern you. Firstly freckles and age spots might look darker initially. This is normal as, unlike Fraxel, the results of IPL treatment are not instant. It will take 3 to 7 days after treatment for these spots to lighten. You might also see some crusting on the treated skin. This is also normal and should go away within 7 to 10 days.
Fraxel Vs IPL: Choose Wisely
Now that you understand the difference between IPL vs. Fraxel skin treatments, you can better decide which one is best for you. However, when making your decision, consider all the factors. These include what condition you want to treat, how quickly you want to see results, and how fast you will need to recover after each session.
For example, if you have an important event coming up, such as a wedding or a vacation, you will want results quickly. In this case, Fraxel may be better for you. However, if time is no issue, but you cannot take time off from work to recover after each session, IPL may fit into your lifestyle better.
Of course, you also need to ensure you choose the treatment that will have the most effective results for the condition you want to treat. For example, If you have many red or brown patches on your skin, you will probably find IPL is most beneficial. Likewise, if you have different skin imperfections that you want to reduce the appearance of, IPL is your best bet.
However, suppose your goal is to reduce wrinkles and fine lines and create a more youthful appearance. In that case, you will indeed find the most satisfaction with the Fraxel method.
If you decide to go for Fraxel laser therapy, you will need to choose the laser setting. Your therapist should advise you on which one is most suited for your needs. However, the 1927 nm setting is best for minimizing the appearance of freckles, melasma, chloasma, age spots, and other pigmentation issues.
On the other hand, the 1550 nm setting works best for smoothing out wrinkles and fine lines, tightening pores, and reducing acne scarring. Furthermore, both modes will enhance the firmness of the skin.
If you are still unsure, speak with a dermatologist who can discuss your options further. Both IPL and Fraxel are safe, effective, and absolutely worth it. Although you may have to schedule some time out for the treatment sessions and the recovery, you’ll be glad you did so once you see the results!