IPL vs Fraxel Comparison Guide


On a day-to-day basis, you make hundreds of choices. Soup or salad for lunch? Roth IRA or traditional IRA? White or red wine after the kids go to bed?  

But when it comes to skincare, some choices might be a bit more difficult to make—especially if you’re considering IPL or Fraxel laser treatments. 

So what is the difference between Fraxel and IPL? This comparison guide for IPL vs Fraxel will help you choose.

What is Fraxel?

It’s a laser! The gorgeous-skin-restoring kind. Fraxel laser treatments create microthermal zones—or, areas of intense heat—in the deeper layers of your skin. This microscopic heat damage encourages your skin cells to create two of the key ingredients to younger, smoother, more beautiful skin—collagen and elastin. 

When a Fraxel laser damages the skin, it triggers your cells into maximum production mode. In fact, Fraxel laser treatments encourage your skin to produce collagen for up to 6 months after the procedure1 . As a result, years of damaged skin has the potential to be more lively and rejuvenated-looking. 

Benefits

The benefits of Fraxel laser treatments depend on the setting of the laser itself. Lasers work by focusing a certain wavelength of light on your skin and any specific age spots, acne scars, or fine lines you are targeting. The length of that wavelength changes how the laser works.

Fraxel lasers have two settings at two different wavelengths—the 1927 nanometer and the 1550 nanometer. The shorter the wavelength, the closer together the waves, and the more intense the laser will be. 

  • The 1927 nm Fraxel laser is non-ablative, meaning it won’t result in wounding or damage to the surface level of your face. It also doesn’t go quite as deep as a 1550 nm laser.

  • The 1550 nm Fraxel laser is ablative, which generally means longer recovery time with the potential of enhanced results and fewer treatments.

 

The 1927 nm setting…

  • Minimizes the darkness of freckles, melasma, chloasma, age spots, and other pigmentation damage

 

1550 nm setting...

  • Smoothes wrinkles
  • Tightens pores
  • Improves the look of acne scarring

 

Both settings... 

  • Enhance the firmness of the skin
  • Help even skin tone and texture

Recovery Time and Optimal Number of Treatments

Recovery times for Fraxel lasers depend on which type of Fraxel laser you use:

  • If you choose a 1927 nm Fraxel Laser treatment, your recovery time will be closer to 1 week.
  • If you opt for a 1550 nm Fraxel laser treatment, your recovery time will be closer to 2 weeks.

 

For ideal results, you may need 2-4 Fraxel treatments to reveal your smoothest, most radiant skin yet. Continue reading for more information on how to take care of your face after a laser treatment. 

Aftercare for Fraxel Treatment

Your brand new skin needs tender loving skincare! Dermatologists recommend:

  • Cleansing twice a day with our Gentle Cleanser. This calming formula is crafted without irritating sulfites so your skin can feel clean and look amazing. 
  • Moisturizing your face twice a day as well to help soothe and nourish your recovering skin. Our Ultra Nourishing Moisturizer with TriHex Technology® can help lock in much-needed hydration and help support your skin’s natural production of collagen and elastin. 
  • Protect your new skin with a non-greasy sunscreen that won’t clog pores. Our HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen with SPF 36 is an amazing choice for post-treatment care.
  • Boosting the effects of your treatment with our Regenerating Skin Nectar. Thanks to its TriHex Technology®, this formula supports faster recovery and can even enhance the effects of your Fraxel skin treatment!

What is IPL?

It’s not quite a laser because instead of using one wavelength of focused light, an IPL (or Intense Pulsed Light) device uses a wider range of wavelengths, making it a less intense—but still effective—treatment method.

The device delivers a pulse of light, helping to break up pigmented cells and promote collagen and elastin production. 

Benefits

IPL treatments are non-ablative2 , which means they target the middle layers of skin rather than the topmost layer. 

An IPL treatment can help...

  • Smooth out fine lines
  • Reduce the appearance of:
    • Brown spots
    • Sunspots
    • Spider veins
  • Diminish redness (rosacea) in the skin
  • Improve the look of acne
  • Create smoother skin
  • Even out skin tone

 

As wonderful as these benefits are, they come with a great big disclaimer. IPL may not be as effective on those who tend to have keloid scars and darker skin tones. The higher pigmentation in darker skin cells makes it more difficult for the IPL to penetrate. 

Recovery Time and Optimal Number of Treatments

IPL treatments are invasive.You might experience a bit of swelling or redness before noticing any skin rejuvenation having taken place.

However, the less invasive the procedure, the more treatments are recommended for maximum results. To achieve smooth, firm, and even skin texture, you may have to have as many as 6 IPL treatments.

Aftercare for IPL Treatment

Another pro in the IPL column? Minimal aftercare treatment! Your skin will still be sensitive though, so it’s recommended that you take extra care of yourself with healing products like:

  • Regenerating Skin Nectar with TriHex Technology®– Restorative, nourishing, and recommended by dermatologists, Regenerating Skin Nectar promotes faster recovery and improved treatment results by supporting collagen and elastin production and clearing out dead and damaged skin cells.
  • HydraTint Pro Mineral SPF 36 – Your skin will be sensitive to the sun for at most a week after your procedure. Give your new glow a little protection from UV rays with this paraben-free HydraTint Pro Mineral SPF 36.

Fraxel Laser vs IPL: It’s Up To You


So IPL or Fraxel? That depends on what you’re looking for!

  • If you don’t mind longer recovery times so long as you get faster results, you might be interested in a Fraxel treatment.
  • If you’re looking to improve your skin’s appearance but don’t want to waste days of recovery, an IPL treatment might be perfect for you. 
  • If you want to get rid of acne scarring, your dermatologist might recommend Fraxel lasering.
  • If you want to smooth out a few fine lines—and enjoy smoother skin as well—you might want to book yourself an IPL treatment.
  • IPL or Fraxel for pigmentation? It could go either way!

 

Whatever you decide to choose, we are always here to help support your pre- and post-procedure skin at ALASTIN! 

 

Sources:

1. “Laser Treatments.” University of Utah Health, healthcare.utah.edu/aesthetics/laser-treatments.php.

2. Watson, Stephanie. “IPL Treatment: Cost, Procedure, and More - Healthline.” Healthline, 15 June 2018, www.healthline.com/health/ipl-treatment.

Article Reviewed by Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson

Vice President, Marketing

Wendy Johnson brings to Alastin Skincare over 22 years of pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and aesthetics industry experience in various sales, training, marketing and thought leader development roles.

After spending 10 years in gastroenterology at Tap Pharmaceuticals and Prometheus Laboratories, with sales and marketing oversight for in-line and pre-launch products, Mrs. Johnson transitioned to an aesthetic career at SkinMedica in 2004. While there, she was responsible for marketing one of the top 2 branded prescription hydroquinones, launching a leading branded low potency steroid, and oversight of the acne franchise line extensions.

In 2010, Wendy joined Merz North America where she developed and managed the Physician Relations department in support of injectable, topical and device business units under Medical Affairs, before transitioning into managing a Regional Aesthetics Marketing team.


Join the A-List

Stay in the glow with the latest beauty and skincare trends, products, and procedures.