BBL vs. IPL: Face-Off

In the acronym-heavy world of beauty it’s easy to get confused.

Posted: 6 March 19

By Louisa McKay

If you want to know WTF is the difference between various types of light-assisted skin treatments, you’ve come to the right place. In our ongoing role as Australia’s premier resource for news and information about cosmetic surgery and cosmetic enhancement, Costhetics decided to look into the ABC’s of photofacials.

We discovered IPL and BBL are the letters you need to know now. Although they share the same basic concept, there are some significant differences in technology that sets BBL apart as the next generation of skin rejuvenation.

A Quick Comparison of BBL vs IPL

BBL and IPL have a significant difference, but also some basic similarities:

  • Both use non-invasive light waves to rejuvenate skin.
  • Both treat skin on any area of the body. Skin that has been exposed to the damaging effects of sunlight – face, neck, back of the hands, chest, and shoulders – can be helped with BBL and IPL.
  • The number of treatments required for maximum benefit varies from patient to patient. A skincare professional will customise a multi-session treatment plan and possibly combine your treatment with other aesthetic treatments to enhance the results.
  • The duration of benefits a series of BBL and IPL skin rejuvenation treatments can last anywhere from six to twelve months, depending on a specific patient’s issues.

IPL treatments use a range of light waves to target the haemoglobin and melanin in skin. IPL laser treatment works to stimulate collagen to reduce visible signs of skin ageing, sun spots, hyperpigmentation and enlarged pores. Additionally, IPL works to stimulate collagen, which, in turn, erases fine lines and mild acne scarring.

BBL uses high intensity light to heat the skin and stimulate collagen production. The photo thermal energy reduces skin redness and creates even, firm skin texture. It also minimises the appearance of freckles and age spots.

Let’s take a closer look at each.

Spotlight On: Intense Pulsed Light Therapy

IPL treatments were among the first of the original photo-rejuvenation technologies. It treats

  • Sun spots
  • Rosacea
  • Scarring
  • Dilated blood vessels
  • Enlarged pores

Oversized brown areas on the face (cheeks, forehead, mouth) are known as melasma and are often caused by hormonal fluctuation associated with an ageing body. IPL can help with these, too. Treatments also help with reducing lingering redness in scars and may even be used as a preventive measure to help surgical incisions heal more attractively.

Most people need three to five treatments spaced one month apart to see best results, depending on the area of the body under treatment and the extent of skin damage.

4 Things You Shouldn’t Overlook with IPL

IPL machines are found in a variety of locations, some of them questionable. Costhetics recommends you look for:

  • The right place for the treatment – There are serious advantages to choosing a medispa run by a physician with strong credentials in medical aesthetics. They should also be onsite during treatments. A useful question to ask is whether the facility is part of a doctor’s practice or if the doctor simply employed as a medical director who checks in occasionally.
  • The right machine for the treatment – A medical-grade IPL delivers the best results and cannot be purchased by or operated by amateurs.
  • The right person for the treatment – IPL treatments can be performed by non-medical professionals. It’s important to find a practitioner who is experienced and has a long history of verifiable success. 
  • The right price for the treatment – If you are being offered a dramatically lower price for skin rejuvenation with IPL, think twice! An unbelievable price is often a reflective of corners being cut either in the machinery itself or in the training of operators. It’s not worth the savings!

Broadband Light Therapy – IPL on Steroids

BroadBand Light therapy (BBL) is essentially the next level of intense pulsed light therapy. Unlike IPL, BBL hand pieces are equipped with state-of-the-art cooling features. This innovation enables the use of high-powered energy while causing only minimal pain, side effects and post-treatment downtime. It also has a range of settings that puts more control into the hands of the practitioner.

BBL was designed to target imperfections where they begin, below the surface of the skin. It helps correct a wide range of skin concerns including:

  • Sun damage
  • Irregular skin texture
  • Acne and acne scarring
  • Age spots
  • Birthmarks
  • Fine lines
  • Freckles
  • Rosacea
  • Sagging skin
  • Visible, broken blood vessels beneath the skin

Heat and light energy harnessed by BBL target darker pigment in cells deep within the skin. The natural skin repair process triggered by treatments helps lighten discolourationand stimulate collagen growth. What’s truly ground-breaking, however is something else BBL can do.

Save the Day with DNA

As we age, the DNA in our skin cells becomes damaged, making them less effective in their work of self-renewal. Slower cell turnover means older cells stay at the surface longer, creating dull, aged-looking skin. BBL is the only skin rejuvenation treatment science has shown changes genes associated with ageing and longevity.

A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that BBL technology, noted for its ability to produce a more youthful appearance, actually producing rejuvenation at a molecular level has also occurred, with a number of genes linked to the ageing process being altered in expression after treatment to more closely resemble young skin. Hence, it is possible that the clinical phenotype represents a functional rejuvenation (at least in the short term), rather than just a cosmetic mimic of youthful appearance.

IPL vs BBL Skincare Aftercare

If you’re a sun-loving Australian (and who isn’t?), you may have to make some changes (for the better) to your regular routine after any light treatment. We’re all at risk of the damaging effects of UV rays, but after a BBL or IPL treatments, your skin will be especially sensitive to ultraviolet light. Until you get the all-clear from your provider, Costhetics reminds you to cover your skin completely and use a good sunscreen when you go outdoors for a week or two. t’s critical to avoid direct sun exposure.

After both an IPL or BBL light treatment, you will be given skin care products and instructions on how to use them. This will help your skin heal correctly and protect your skin from future damage. How great is that?

Go Into the Light…with a Pro.

Costhetics believes that any technology is only as good as the people who apply it. It is important to fine-tune any specific light treatment to the character of your skin at the present moment. So which should you choose? That’s up to you…and a professional skin care expert.

Costhetics recommends that you book a consult with a skin expert who has in-depth experience and deep knowledge of both traditional IPL and the more advanced BBL. The more you know, the more you’ll glow.

Stay beautiful!