Intense Pulse Light (IPL) on Darker Skin Types
By Helen Molteni
Case Western Reserve University – Class of 2023
Biochemistry and Finance, B.A. Candidate
However, recent studies have shown success in treating patients with darker skin types. A study of type III-IV patients in China found that using a laser with a higher wavelengths and a lower energy is just as effective as a high energy laser, but with reduced side effects.2 Another study in Spain found that a new IPL called Thermaeye plus was effective and safe for treating dry eye disease in patients with skin types I-IV.3
Dr. Cremers has treated 10 patients with Fitzpatrick Type 4 and 2 patients with Fitzpatrick Type V without skin discoloration. Randomized, controlled, double-blinded studies will help determine if IPL, in such patients, is safe long term and equally effective for dry eye disease from meibomian gland dysfunction.
Figure 1,2: From paper: Position of IPL for treatment of dry eye disease in dark-skinned patients3
While it is important for dark-skinned patients to be aware of potential risks of undergoing IPL, this treatment certainly remains an option. The key factors to minimize potential side effects are to ensure that the laser’s energy relatively low (8-20 J/cm2) and that the procedure is carried out by a knowledgeable professional that can adjust treatment to accommodate all skin types.
1. Giannaccare, G., Taroni, L., Senni, C., & Scorcia, V. (2019). Intense Pulsed Light Therapy In The Treatment Of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction: Current Perspectives. Clinical optometry, 11, 113–126.
2. Li D, Lin S, Cheng B. Intense pulsed light treatment for meibomian gland dysfunction in skin types III/IV. Photobiomodul Photomed Laser Surg. 2019;37:70–76. doi:10.1089/photob.2018.4509
3. Vergés, C., Salgados-Borges, J., & March de Ribot, F. (2020). Prospective evaluation of a new intense pulsed light, thermaeye plus, in the treatment of dry eye disease due to meibomian gland dysfunction. Journal of Optometry, 1-12.
Fitzpatrick Skin Chart: Sutton Dermatology and Aesthetics
Thermaeye Plus: Optimed