Do IPL and BBL Treatments Work for Acne-Prone Skin?

When you hear of intense pulse light (IPL), you probably think of laser hair removal. And when you think about broadband light (BBL) therapy, you most likely think about photorejuvenation. While it’s true that those are what IPL and BBL are most known for, did you know that these techniques also work for acne?

IPL and BBL Explained

To appreciate how IPL and BBL can help treat acne, you need to understand how each works. IPL and BBL are not two entirely different technologies. BBL is actually an enhanced form of IPL. BBL is an FDA and Health Canada approved procedure intended to treat skin conditions such as sun damage, age spots, small veins, and even acne.

How Effective is BBL in Treating Acne?

Acne is caused by several factors, ranging from hormonal imbalance to sebaceous glands producing excessive amounts of sebum. When hair follicle pores become blocked, the plugged follicles become inflamed and result in the red bumps and cysts that we know as acne.

The reason why BBL is effective at treating acne is that it targets the sources – the bacteria that causes the inflammation and the sebaceous gland that may overproduce sebum or oil.

With BBL, a highly controlled pulsed infrared and visible light energy heats the upper layers of the target area. BBL has shorter wavelengths in its blue-light spectrum, which attacks the acne-causing bacteria on the skin’s surface and in the sebaceous gland.

The BBL device will be used to take a second pass at the skin, but this time using a yellow filter which reduces redness. The last filter on the BBL device is used to minimize oil production by reducing sebaceous gland activity.

Depending on your treatment, another infrared light may be used to trigger your body’s natural healing process, targeting deep acne lesions. This means that BBL is also used to treat existing acne scars. Because the technology was also meant to increase the production of collagen, which is a protein that the body uses to repair wounded skin – it can reduce visible acne marks.

What to Expect After BBL Treatment

With BBL, there is no patient downtime, and treatment sessions only typically last between 20 and 30 minutes. After treatment, expect temporary reddening of the treated area. There may also be some mild swelling of the acne and the surrounding skin. However, this will only typically last for 1-2 days. If you’re embarrassed by the redness, you can always apply makeup, which is safe to use after treatment.

Because the skin is sensitive after treatment, it’s crucial to protect it from further damage. This means using a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Avoid sun exposure for a minimum of 1-2 weeks. Approach your newly treated skin like a sunburn. To help with any skin irritation as your skin heals, you may use cold compresses or gentle moisturizers that contain soothing aloe vera.

At CüR Laser and Skin, we carry the Sciton BBL, the world’s most powerful IPL device on the market and most versatile broadband light system in its class. It has various wavelengths and a filter designed specifically for acne.

The number of treatments varies depending on the severity of your acne, along with what causes your acne. However, to achieve maximum improvement, we would recommend a series of treatments. Remember that acne is often stubborn and may return. We will also recommend the best topical and oral medications, particularly for persistent acne.