IPL (intense pulsed light), the non-invasive treatment modality used in the IPL Photofacial, is a skin rejuvenation method that utilizes different wavelengths of pulsed light energy to safely heat the dermis. IPL treatments are incredibly popular as they offer patients a non-invasive but effective way to get brighter, smoother, blemish-free skin, and are used to treat an extensive list of skin conditions.

If you work hard to maintain the condition of your complexion, it can be frustrating when breakouts occur, skin tone is uneven, or aging starts to cause more permanent wrinkles and lines. Similarly, there are some skin features that are challenging to alter without more intensive treatment, such as enlarged pores and acne scars.

Joseph Michaels MD ensures patients receive the highest quality care with the most effective IPL treatments. Contact Rockville at (301) 468-5991 or Fairfax at (703) 957-8610 or make an online inquiry to book your personal consultation with us.

About Intense Pulsed Light

IPL is an effective non-surgical approach to rejuvenating skin. The non-ablative flashlamps deliver multicolored light energy at varying wavelengths. The range is anywhere between 400 nm to 1,400 nm. IPL wavelengths are strong enough to travel through the epidermis and safely heat the dermis, the lowest level of the skin. The light causes damage to the targeted tissue, triggering a healing response in the body. This response creates healthy, beautiful skin, as it stimulates an increase in the body’s production of its essential structural components. 

Total Skin Improvement

Aging, sun exposure, and smoking are just some factors that can contribute to the degeneration of the skin’s matrix of proteins. And sadly, it’s just not possible to hide from these factors forever. IPL treatments can help to restore life to dull, sun-damaged skin. Two components of the skin, collagen and fibroblasts, are essential for its health

While collagen provides tensile strength and helps to retain moisture, fibroblasts support wound healing processes, and IPL triggers their production. The stimulation of collagen and fibroblasts restores connective tissue structure, providing long-lasting smoothness and even tone. In some cases, some volume loss can even be restored. [2]

What Conditions Can IPL Treat?

The broadband wavelengths of IPL are able to treat any of the following concerns:

  • Rosacea
  • Acne
  • Fine Lines
  • Wrinkles
  • Sunspots
  • Pore Size
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Scars
  • Spider Veins
  • Birthmarks
  • Freckles
  • Hair Removal
  • Dull Skin [1][2]

IPL is not just reserved for the face; treatment can be performed just about anywhere on the body. Common areas include the chest, hands, and back.

Why IPL Treatment is So Safe

Our skin absorbs light energy at different wavelengths. This is why IPL is such an effective treatment. The broadband wavelengths emitted from the IPL device selectively target pigmented tissue, so non-targeted healthy tissue remains unharmed. Red, yellow, green, and infrared wavelengths simultaneously correct various skin concerns. If patients have more specific concerns, advanced IPL cut-off filters are available to block specific wavelengths and only allow the necessary ones. [2]

Additional customizations during your treatment can tailor light energy levels to your requirements, including the length of pulses, the sequence of pulses, and the time delay. This allows for multiple skin conditions to be treated at the same time! [1]

Why Choose an IPL Treatment?

  • Collagen Stimulation: IPL stimulates collagen production, leading to firmer, smoother, and more youthful-looking skin. It effectively targets and reduces signs of aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging.
  • Reduction of Fine Lines and Wrinkles: By targeting the deeper layers of the skin, IPL encourages collagen remodeling, which diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, giving you a more refreshed and youthful complexion.
  • Improvement of Skin Texture and Tone: IPL treatments help to improve skin texture by reducing uneven pigmentation, minimizing pores, and promoting a more even skin tone. This leads to a smoother, more refined complexion.
  • Lightening of Age Spots and Sun Damage: IPL precisely targets areas of hyperpigmentation caused by sun damage or age spots, breaking down excess melanin and allowing it to naturally fade away. This results in a more even skin tone and a reduction in the appearance of sun damage.
  • Minimization of Acne Scars: IPL can successfully minimize the appearance of acne scars by stimulating collagen production and promoting new skin cell growth. This helps to improve the texture and overall appearance of the skin affected by acne scarring.
  • Non-Invasive, Fast Treatment: IPL is a non-ablative skin rejuvenation treatment that improves skin texture and tone with minimal downtime. Sessions are convenient and short compared to surgical procedures.

Candidates for IPL

IPL is an invaluable skin rejuvenation method. With its numerous customizable capabilities, just about anyone can benefit from it. That being said, those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have an active sunburn or a sun tan should wait to receive their treatment.

Realistic expectations are important for IPL. This treatment will provide patients with even skin texture and tone. It cannot boost volume, smooth deep creases, or tighten significantly sagging skin. These effects are better treated by surgical procedures such as fat transfer, facelift, or a mini facelift.

Personal Consultation

Can IPL treat my skin concerns? How many treatments will I need? All of your questions will gladly be answered at your personal consultation. After a thorough discussion about your aesthetic goals, we will conduct an examination of the treatment area. 

Patients who cannot visit us for an in-person consultation may consider booking a virtual consultation.


We encourage patients to avoid sun exposure and self-tanning products before their treatment. Tanned skin from the sun or a topically applied product will make it difficult for the device to detect what is actually blemished. Additionally, you should avoid blood thinners and topical treatments like retinol and glycolic acid. On the day of your appointment, your face should be fresh and clean. 

IPL Procedure

IPL treatment takes anywhere between 15 minutes to an hour depending on the cosmetic concern. A cooling gel may then be applied to assist the gliding of the handpiece and for your comfort. If you so desire, numbing cream is available upon request. You will need to arrive 30 minutes before your appointment to allow the numbing cream to take full effect. 

We will provide a pair of comfortable glasses to protect your eyes. We will then methodically glide the handpiece over the predetermined areas. Pulses of broadband light will be delivered at varying wavelengths and absorbed by the skin. Patients may feel a slight stinging but these effects are transient. Deeper skin damage may require longer wavelengths, multiple passes, and possibly more treatment sessions to resolve. The best results occur after multiple treatments


Any initial discomfort can be eased with an ice pack. Post-treatment redness will resolve quickly on its own. IPL does not require interruption of your normal routine. However, if you were treated for pigmentation issues, these areas may initially darken and then flake in about a week. It is best not to apply makeup at this time if your skin is sensitive. We advise patients not to exfoliate until they are fully healed or until advised. During your healing, moisturizers and sunscreen are key to effective, long-lasting results.


Depending on the skin concern, multiple treatments spaced several weeks apart may be necessary to see a significant improvement. The longevity of results depends on different factors like individual anatomy, sun exposure, and genetics. Making sure you take proper sun protection measures will help keep your skin as healthy and as radiant as possible.

Corresponding & Complementary Procedures 

IPL focuses on treating more surface-level concerns, so because of this, microneedling is sometimes performed as well. Microneedling reaches deeper into the dermis to also produce an increase in collagen production. We use the state-of-the-art SkinPen, a handheld, pen-shaped device that rapidly emits fine needles for controlled penetration. The microchannels that are created in the skin trigger the body to create more collagen, elastic, and fibroblasts. 

If you want to prolong your IPL results, Botox may be a beneficial addition. Botox reduces fine lines and wrinkles by blocking the signals that signal the muscle to move. It is the muscle movement that creates dynamic wrinkles in the overlying skin. So, by temporarily stopping the muscles from moving, your skin relaxes and smooths. Botox results last between three and five months, so routine injections are necessary to maintain their long-term effects. 

Cost of IPL Skin Rejuvenation in Rockville

The cost of your IPL skin rejuvenation will vary based on the size of the treatment area and how many sessions you undergo. We will discuss the details at your consultation, at which time, we can provide a quote. Call, or complete a straightforward form to get started with us. 

Make sure to check out our specials page to see our latest offers. 

Rockville: (301) 468-5991

Fairfax: (703) 957-8610

Dr. Michaels has more information about non-invasive treatments on his blog.


Does IPL treatment hurt?

IPL treatment is not painful. Patients describe the feeling as similar to rubber band snaps. Ice packs can be applied after treatment to relieve any lingering feelings of discomfort.

What are the side effects of IPL?

Some patients may experience redness, bruising, flaking, or darkening of the targeted areas. These side effects are normal. Beautiful, healthy skin awaits just below the surface once your skin has healed.

Can IPL address sun-damaged skin?

Yes! IPL specifically targets excess pigment in the skin, such as sun spots and age spots. The light energy breaks down the pigmentation, resulting in a lightening or complete removal of these dark spots.


  1. Gade A, Vasile GF, Rubenstein R. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Therapy. PubMed. Published 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK580525/ 
  2. Goldberg DJ. Current Trends in Intense Pulsed Light. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. 2012;5(6):45-53. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3390232/ 
  3. Babilas P, Schreml S, Szeimies RM, Landthaler M. Intense pulsed light (IPL): a review. Lasers Surg Med. 2010;42(2):93-104. doi:10.1002/lsm.20877
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