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What is the difference between IPL, BBL, and a photofacial? The answer is easy!


IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light and BBL stands for Broad Band Light.  BBL is simply a type of an IPL device. The term BBL was coined by the Sciton company that makes it, perhaps, to help separate their IPL from the pack. Both are light devices with multiple wavelengths with cut off filters, to allow light bands of certain wavelengths to treat, sun damage, age spots, red veins, and skin texture.

What is a PhotoFacial

PhotoFacial is a treatment referring to an anti-aging Facial using a light (Photo) source. Often this treatment is referred to as “photorejuvenation” of the skin. The  light source used is most commonly an IPL or type of IPL called a BBL.

How do they work?

IPL devices, including the one referred to as BBL work by directing light energy in the visible spectrum from violet to red, which is then converted to heat as it reaches its target which absorbs the light. The  absorbing targets are red veins, ( hemoglobin), freckles, age spots and dyschromia ( melanin) wrinkles ( water heated to stimulate collagen). The target can be destroyed and eliminated to stimulate growth of new healthier skin during  the healing process. Ultraviolet light which is in the sun and cause skin cancer is NOT in the spectrum emitted by the IPL, which is a safe and effective skin rejuvenation device.

Why are topical products like Retinoids, peptides and growth factor serums not enough?

Because much of the aging process happens in the deeper layers of the skin, and topical anti-aging products cannot efficiently reach to the very deep layers but in combination with the light treatments can produce effective results.

Which has less risk and is more effective, IPL or BBL?

As stated earlier, the BBL is a type of IPL. Things to consider with photo facials is  whether you have the right skin type and condition to benefit from the treatment, who is performing the procedure and their credentials, how many have they done, and do they have experiences adjusting wavelengths for different skin types. These are important questions to ask during a consultations because in the wrong hands, risks are more likely with all devices. Chose a provider with an experienced physician over seeing all procedures and following your case. Beware of clinics who have a “medical director” who simply lends their credentials out for the clinic to run without experience or oversite using the device.

A newer protocol established using the BBL

The Sciton BBL was used in a study out of Stanford conducted by Patrick Bitter MD. The Forever Young BBL™ from Sciton is the result of the study using a rather unique protocol employing varying wavelengths in a two step process to improve color, tone and texture of the skin. This Forever Young protocol has lead in part to the popularity of the term “BBL” as this was the  type of IPL device from Sciton, used in the study. I have used many IPL devices over the years. Although there are many similarities, it is my opinion that this unique protocol can produce superior skin rejuvenation results… Call us today to schedule your consultation! To hear more about the Forever Young BBL™ join us for our next blog or subscribe to our YouTube channel