Complements Treatment options for fine lines, wrinkles and age spots


By Emily Peterson, MD, reconstructive & cosmetic surgery, Mount Nittany Physician Group

Cosmetic services have gained a lot of popularity over the last several years. In the United States alone, more than $16.7 billion was spent on cosmetic procedures in 2020. With each service, cream, or tool promising to be a miracle worker, it can be hard to sort through the best options for looking and feeling your best.

The most common cosmetic anxieties my team sees are fine lines and wrinkles, facial spider veins, brown “age spots,” unwanted hair and the like. And it’s not just women who have these cosmetic concerns. Men accounted for 1.1 million total cosmetic procedures last year.

These types of concerns can be treated with one of two tools that you might not be familiar with. The first is a laser, and the second is known as Intense Pulsed Light, often abbreviated IPL.

What is the difference between IPL and laser services?

IPL and laser services are similar, but physicians may choose to recommend one service over another. This decision is based on many factors, including the type of condition you want to treat, your skin type, and even your lifestyle.

IPL uses multiple lengths of light rays to treat various skin problems. It operates on a wider range of wavelengths with varying intensity, allowing it to treat more than just one type of skin condition.

A laser uses one continuous light wavelength and is typically stronger than IPL. The laser removes outer layers of damaged skin and stimulates collagen production.
While both treatment options are safe and effective, your physician will have experience in judging which service has the best chance for a successful treatment.

What to expect

Both the IPL and laser services are performed on an outpatient basis. Patients typically feel minimal discomfort from the procedures, and depending on the type of condition being treated, the appointment may only take a few minutes. Some conditions require as few as two or three treatments to see noticeable results.

A physician will schedule a consultation visit and skin examination as the first step. At that time, the provider will be able to determine if the IPL or laser treatment will be most effective for you.

During your consultation, the physician will likely be able to estimate how many treatments will be needed to achieve the desired results. Questions or concerns about the treatment plan can also be addressed.

While it’s always a good idea to be proactive in your care and to learn about the different types of services a provider offers – through reputable resources like the American Society of Plastic Surgeons – you should remember that physicians have the education, skills, and tools to recommend the product or service that’s best for you. Be open and honest with your physician about the results you want to achieve so that the treatment experience can be pleasant.

For information about these and other services offered at Mount Nittany Physician Group Reconstructive & Cosmetic Surgery, visit