IPL vs. BBL: Differences & Benefits for Skin Rejuvenation

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Published on Jun 24, 2024 By: WIFH Staff

Understand the Ins and Outs of IPL and BBL Treatments

If you’re researching skin treatments to reduce redness from rosacea or to minimize brown spots from sun damage, you’ve likely come across these two light therapy treatments: BBL and IPL. Which is the better between the two, and which one should you choose?

In reality, BBL and IPL are essentially the same — in fact, Broadband Light Therapy (BBL) is a type of Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL). While IPL came before BBL, both are highly effective skin rejuvenation treatments.

Read on to learn more about these light therapy skin treatments, why they’re so similar, the small differences between them, and which treatment may be best for your skin concerns.

What is IPL?

IPL, Intense Pulsed Light, also known as PhotoFacial, is a light therapy treatment that targets redness, brown spots, and broken blood vessels. IPL treatments rejuvenate the skin and treat the following:

  • Rosacea
  • Broken blood vessels
  • Acne and acne scars
  • Brown spots and freckles
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Scars from surgery or trauma
  • Reduces pore size

During an IPL treatment, a patient’s skin absorbs wavelengths of light from the IPL machine. The light is converted into heat, which clears redness while stimulating collagen in the skin.

This type of light therapy treatment provides dramatic results and is one of the best ways to transform dull, textured, and red skin.

IPL Aftercare Advice from PhotoFacial Professionals
IPL Aftercare Advice
from PhotoFacial Professionals
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What is BBL?

BroadBand Light Therapy (BBL) is a type of Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL). BBL treatments improve skin texture and color and can even help reverse damage caused by sun exposure.

Unlike treatments under the more general umbrella of IPL, a BBL device specifically delivers broad-spectrum, visible, and infrared light to regenerate skin cells. BBL is often used to treat the face, but can also be used on the hands, neck, and chest. In addition, BBL treatments significantly improve the following:

  • Acne and acne scars
  • Rosacea and redness
  • Brown spots and freckles
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Scars from surgery or trauma

Differences Between IPL and BBL

Again, BBL is actually a type of IPL. In turn, IPL and BBL are very similar; both are effective light therapy treatments that treat a variety of skin concerns and conditions. Here are the small differences you should know when choosing between the two:

IPL and BBL Use Different Machines

The main difference between the two treatments are the machines used. During a BBL treatment, the clinician must manually change the device filters and settings, depending on the skin condition they’re treating. With IPL devices, clinicians don’t switch out glass slides or filters. Instead, they program the device based on the patient’s skin conditions.

IPL Treatments Leave Less Room for Human Error

Our medical team believes IPL devices are more intuitive than BBL devices. With fewer filters and settings to change, IPL leaves less room for human error during treatment. However, whether you choose BBL or IPL treatments, selecting an experienced provider, such as our team at WIFH, is essential for safe, effective treatment.

IPL vs BBL Treatments: A Side-by-Side Comparison

IPL BBL
What is it? Light therapy treatment Light therapy treatment
Number of treatments needed 3 to 6 3 to 6
What skin concerns does it treat? Rosacea, broken blood vessels, acne and acne scars, brown spots and freckles, fine lines and wrinkles, scars from surgery or trauma Acne and acne scars, rosacea and redness, fine lines and wrinkles, scars from surgery or trauma
What areas of the body can it treat? Face, neck, chest, hands, arms, stomach, legs, and back Face, neck, chest, hands, arms, stomach, legs, and back
Cost per session $100 – $1,000, depending on the area treated $100 – $1,000, depending on the area treated
Side effects After treatment, patients may feel and look like they have a mild sunburn. This feeling subsides in a day or two. Patients may feel burning, redness, or warmth in the treatment area. Similar to IPL, these symptoms typically subside in a day or two.
How long will the results last? With proper skin care, results can last for years, but yearly follow-up treatments are needed to maintain results. Results will last for months up to a year, but like IPL, annual follow-up treatments are needed to maintain results.

Which is More Popular, IPL or BBL?

IPL and BBL are both popular light therapy treatments. While many medical spas claim BBL is a more effective treatment, IPL is just as effective. In fact, because IPL devices are so reliable, the medical team at WIFH prefers IPL treatments over BBL.

Which is Best: IPL or BBL?

Neither BBL nor IPL light therapy treatments are better than the other — both of these treatments provide visible results after a few sessions. While light therapy treatment is one of the best ways to revitalize skin, these treatments are only safe for patients with light to medium skin tones. Patients with dark skin tones should discuss alternative treatments with their dermatologist or clinician.

BBL vs IPL for Brown Spots

Both BBL and IPL treat brown spots. For patients with darker skin tones, we also recommend Obagi Nu-Derm products to help treat brown spots.

BBL vs. IPL for Melasma

At WIFH, we don’t use IPL or BBL treatments on patients with melasma. The heat from either treatment can make this skin condition worse. Instead, we recommend VI Peels for patients with light to medium skin tones and Obagi Nu-Derm products for patients with dark skin tones.

BBL vs. IPL for Rosacea

Light therapy treatments are the best way to treat redness and broken blood vessels that are commonly caused by rosacea. While BBL and IPL treatments are both very effective treatments, most patients with rosacea will need at least six sessions to see results. After IPL treatments, rosacea patients will also notice that their skin is less reactive.

IPL for Rosacea & Facial Redness
IPL for Rosacea & Facial Redness
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Schedule a Skin Rejuvenation Consultation in Atlanta With WIFH

At WIFH, we specialize in IPL treatments to help patients achieve glowy, radiant skin. Our Icon IPL device by Palomar — one of the best machines on the market — takes years off of patients’ skin. Do you want to learn if you’re a candidate for IPL treatments? Let’s discuss your skin concerns and create a customized treatment plan to help you achieve the results you’re looking for. Contact WIFH today and book a free consultation for IPL treatments.

Sarah Richardson, LME

Sarah Richardson is WIFH’s Lead Medical Aesthetician and manages the skincare side of our practice. She is also an Assistant Cosmetic Laser Practitioner licensed by the Georgia Medical Composite Board. With over 16 years of skin care experience, Sarah specializes in creating customized treatment plans to address our patients’ individualized needs. Through a combination of clinical facials and aesthetic procedures, as well as scientifically effective skin care products, Sarah helps patients achieve a healthy, radiant, and glowing complexion. She is truly passionate about what she does and loves to educate others who are looking to improve their skin’s health.