April 1, 2019

BBL vs IPL Photorejuvenation – What to expect, aftercare and more

Written by Dr Kate Jameson

Medically reviewed by Dr Kate Jameson on May 20, 2024

Revisiting BBL and IPL Technology In 2019

I cannot believe it’s been a year since I put together the blog “BBL versus IPL” to introduce you all to the amazing light based technological addition to Youth Lab.

What a whirlwind of a year it has been.

With the number of BBL treatments I have performed over the course of 2018 and 2019 being well in the thousands, I have seen first hand the jaw-dropping results that this technology can achieve, performing at a superior level to any IPL machine I have used in the past.

To mark the 1 year birthday of our beloved BBL machine, I thought it was time to revisit this blog and share with you more knowledge, results, and nitty gritty details of the phenomenon that is Sciton’s Broad Band Light.

BBL vs IPL Photorejuvenation – The Difference Explained

In my role as a Dermal Therapist I want to address the number one question from my clients, “What is the difference between IPL and BBL?”.

Below we are going to look at the key differences between BBL and IPL.

IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light and BBL stands for Broad Band Light. Both work by directing light energy into the skin which is then converted to heat as it reaches its target. The target, or chromophore can be the pigment in the skin, pigment in hair, redness of blood vessels and even the bacteria causing acne.

Once the heat energy hits the target it is absorbed and then damages the target tissue, causing destruction and eventual elimination of the target from the skin. The healing response begins, producing healthy collagen and elastin, and the skin is then restored to its healthy and natural condition.

Although they share the same basic concept, there are some significant differences in technology that sets BBL apart in a field of its own.

Specialist performing a BBL treatment on client at Youth Lab

Broad Band Light (BBL) Overview

For the last decade, light-based therapy has become a widely accepted and reliable method for the treatment of photodamaged skin, pigmentation, vascularity, reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and other signs of ageing.

I remember the first time I heard about photorejuvenation and I thought “What? You can remove freckles?”. I excitedly booked in for an appointment, still skeptical of the impending results. On the day I was taken through for my treatment, and after a few quick flicks it was all over. Over the next 5-10 days, I noticed all of my freckles starting to darken and then flake away from my skin. I was hooked. I think this may have been the moment I fell in love with Dermal Therapy.

BBL is the latest and most advanced technology in light therapy that sets the standard for treating skin conditions associated with ageing and pigmentation irregularities, with minimal downtime and exceptional long term benefits. With advances in research, science and light technology, BBL now provides highly accurate parameters to deliver superior results and allow us as clinicians to design treatments personalised for your skin and precisely target concerns such as:

An exciting new advancement that comes with BBL is the treatment of acne. With a combination of photochemical and photothermal settings, we can tackle problematic acne from a number of angles, giving clients phenomenal and fast results.

Extensive studies and research have proven that regular BBL treatments, not only prevent cellular ageing, but also turn back the clock, causing the DNA expression of skin cells to reverse back to a youthful, healthy state. Literally reversing the ageing process. We will go into more detail about the ‘Forever Young BBL’ below.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Overview

With an increased demand of IPL treatments, there has been an influx of technology that is available to clients. Every second beauty salon is offering IPL treatments. And sales websites are flooded with cheap treatment offers.

I cannot stress enough, the machines out there are not all the same. When it comes to IPL, as with most cosmetic and dermal services, you tend to get what you pay for. Unfortunately, the majority of the machines that are out there are unreliable and potentially dangerous, and give light therapy treatments in general a bad reputation. A high quality (and expensive) IPL machine can deliver fantastic results, however due to the range of technology on the market and lack of regulation, the consumer really has NO idea what they are getting into when they book in for one of these treatments.

The most common adverse reactions reported for IPL treatments include hypo/hyper-pigmentation, or lack of clinical results. This occurs when patients are treated with incorrect parameters or poor technique. These results are most commonly due to inexperienced or poorly trained practitioners, inadequate technology/machines or both.

When the potential outcomes of cheap treatments include permanent scarring and hyperpigmentation, not to mention throwing hundreds of dollars down the drain, it is simply not worth the risk.

Clinical Imaging

At Youth Lab our consultation process includes our state of the art clinical imaging. This is a fantastic tool to track progress and outline skin concerns such as pigmentation and flushing.

Through applying various filters we can see deeper, dermal pigmentation that may not be readily seen to the human eye, as well as areas of flushing, irritation and high vascularity. All clinical imaging is confidential and kept private at the desire of our clients. While these images can be confronting, they are a fantastic tool to track progress and for education.

The following images have been given consent to marketing and the number of treatments detailed beneath:

Before and after images of dermal pigmentation following a course of BBL treatment Before and after images of dermal pigmentation following a course of BBL treatment Before and after images following one session of BBL treatment

As you can see from clinical imaging, after just one treatment of BBL photorejuvenation we can lift a large majority of superficial pigmentation. With successive treatments, we are able to target the deeper dermal pigmentation remaining, giving optimum results.

What Is Forever Young BBL?

The benefits of BBL expand to include maintaining healthy skin once it has been corrected and delaying the signs of ageing.

Think of the Forever Young BBL as a maintenance treatment to delay the signs of ageing, whereas BBL Skin Rejuvenation is when the BBL is being used to target a specific concern.

Forever Young BBL is the first and only treatment designed to delay the appearance of visible skin ageing in all patients, including those with darker skin types. In addition to clinical improvement in the appearance of photodamaged skin, there is evidence supporting that long term regular BBL treatments will enhance the expression of youth related genes in aged skin cells, essentially reversing the ageing process and returning skin to a genetically youthful state.

Preventing and reversing the signs of fine lines, wrinkles, skin laxity, age spots, uneven pigmentation and textural changes are newly discovered benefits of regular BBL treatments. The common effects of photoageing in patients with darker skin types are not as obvious, although these patients do still experience the inevitable process of ageing.

A recent study showed that regular treatments of BBL of 2 to 4 times per year seemed to delay visible signs of ageing. This study included 15 patients of 38-69 years of age, who had at least 1 treatment per year for 5-11 years. The before and after pictures of the patients over this period of time showed that their skin condition was virtually unchanged.

The results of this study was further investigated at a genetic level. The gene expression of “Forever Young” treated aged skin, and untreated aged skin were compared to a young skin. Of the 2265 genes whose expression was altered in aged skin, 1293 were fully restored to the expression seen in the younger skin.

This groundbreaking study provided additional support behind the age defying benefits of BBL.

Optimal results for maintaining healthy skin and delaying ageing require 4 x Forever Young treatments per year. Treatments are generally well tolerated with no expected downtime and minimal risk of an adverse event.

BBL + Hydrafacial – Working In Synergy

As we are skin obsessed and always searching for the most effective, safe and results driven treatment options you can imagine our excitement when we found new research into the use of antioxidant infusions and the benefits this has when combined with BBL treatments.

Recently, there has been a lot of focus and research around ultilising multiple modalities to achieve skin goals. There has been a recent focus on the use of topical antioxidants in skin health. This treatment method is utilised in our popular Hydrafacial treatment where antioxidants are infused into the skin following the exfoliation and extraction phase.

The addition of topical antioxidants to a BBL regimen has been shown to improve the chemical, clinical, biochemical and histological changes seen following BBL treatments alone. But what does this actually mean for the skin? Basically, combining BBL photorejuvenation treatments with topical application of antioxidants (with the Hydrafacial treatment) will result in greater improvement in the appearance of fine lines, pore size, hyperpigmentation, dullness and texture, than either treatment can provide on it’s own.

The data supports the use of multi-modal therapy to create synergy and to optimize the end results and long term outcomes for BBL and Hydrafacial treatments.

By stacking BBL treatments with the incredible Hydrafacial, we are combining the power of broad band light therapy with an intense infusion of potent antioxidants, including Vitamin A, Vitamin E, White Tea Extract, Horse Chestnut Seed Extract, and Rosemary Extract.

We suggest a course of 6 initial treatments consisting of 3 BBL photorejuvenation treatments and 6 Hydrafacial treatments over the course of 3 months. For example on your first treatment you will have the Hydrafacial followed by the BBL treatment, then two weeks later a Hydrafacial treatment on its own. This is then repeated every 2 weeks.

BBL – The Finer Details


Initial BBL Photorejuvenation treatments typically require 1 to 3 treatments (however chances are you’ll be more than happy after just one treatment, which will pick up the majority of surface pigmentation) at 3 to 4 week intervals for best results. Maintenance treatments are recommended 2 to 4 times per year for optimum rejuvenation and prevention of cell ageing.

Unlike other light based therapies, due to BBL’s advanced parameters, topical anaesthetic cream can be applied prior to treatments for increased patient comfort.


We advise a few steps and precautions to take before a BBL treatment to help minimise the risk of downtime and complications, and to enhance the results. These include:

  • Avoiding sun exposure for 4 weeks before treatment

  • No use of fake tan for at least 2 weeks

  • Daily use of sunscreen (preferably SPF 50)

  • Use of a pigment inhibitor cosmeceutical product if you are having your pigmentation treated. This will help to improve the result and prevent the development of further pigmentation after the treatment course

  • Use of antiviral medication if you get cold sores


The down time can be quite minimal after a BBL treatment but there are steps that are essential for the results to be achieved and to minimise any complications. The skin will feel sensitive and almost like a sunburn. Until this has subsided, avoid all of the following:

  • Applying makeup over the treated areas

  • Use of scented lotions or soaps, deodorants, active skin care ingredients such as retinol and glycolic acids.

  • We recommend the use of our post procedure recovery cream after the treatment.

  • Avoid getting your skin hot for at least 24 hours. No hot showers, saunas, steam or strenuous exercise

  • Ensure strict sun avoidance and use of SPF 30-50+ sunscreen. This should be part of your routine regardless.

  • We advise to continue  your usual skin care routine once the skin is no longer sensitive


Unfortunately no. There are a few health conditions and situations where the treatment may not be suitable. BBL cannot be done in those suffering from: untreated herpes infection, open wounds or skin injury, sunburn, keloid/hypertrophic scarring, skin cancers or skin infections.

The treatment is also contraindicated in medical conditions such as epilepsy, porphyria, as well as pregnancy/breastfeeding and results may be limited in women suffering from PCOS (in relation to hair removal).

BBL also cannot be done if you have had recent sunburn or unprotected sun exposure or solarium use 4 weeks prior to treatment

BBL versus IPL – The Verdict

BBL is essentially a highly advanced version of IPL.

BBL is a more accurate and specific treatment method compared to IPL. In addition, the superior safety and efficacy of BBL technology in treating patients with darker skin types sets it apart from any other pulsed light therapy on the market.

There is a much lower risk of complications, down time and the number of treatments needed to reach the desired result is less. For example, to treat pigmentation with IPL you may need upto 6 treatments ,where as with BBL, significant results can be seen after just 3 treatments.

Although the BBL machine is far superior, the clinical skill of the operator is as important as any machine they use. Hence, it is critical to choose your service provider carefully and not just go to a place that offers the cheapest price.

It is so fantastic as a Dermal Therapist to be able to utilise such excellent technology that delivers phenomenal results. Unlike the variations that are seen in different IPL machines, all Sciton BBL devices are the gold standard of light therapy for skin.

It is a breath of fresh air from the inconsistency we have faced with IPL technology previously. Even the higher quality machines that are out there may not provide significant results, due to the stubborn nature of pigmentation, capillaries and rosacea.