BBL vs IPL - 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 beings, 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.
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, reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and other signs of ageing.
BBL is the latest and most advanced technology in light therapy that sets new standards for treating skin conditions associated with ageing and pigmentation irregularities, with little to no 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:
Skin Tone and Texture
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.
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 full 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.
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, 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 patients are treated with incorrect parameters or poor technique. These results are most commonly due to inexperienced or poorly trained practitioners, or inadequate technology/machines.
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.
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 and down times and the number of treatments needed to reach the desired result is less. For example, to treat pigmentation with IPL you may need 6 treatments wheres as you will have significant results after only 3 treatments of BBL.
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 say with confidence that you will 100% get results with the BBL. There are no variations in the technology like IPL i.e. a good device or a bad device, all BBL devices are at the elite level.
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.
BBL and the 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 it has been combined with BBL treatments.
Newer research has focused on efforts to delivery clinical improvements focusing on using multiple modalities to achieve these 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 (like 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 multimodal 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
HOW MANY TREATMENTS WILL I NEED?
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. 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.
WHAT DO I NEED TO DO BEFORE A BBL TREATMENT
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
WHAT DO I NEED TO DO AFTER A BBL TREATMENT?
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
IS BBL SUITABLE FOR EVERYONE?
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 sin injury, sunburn, keloid/hypertrophic scarring, skin cancers or skin infections. The treatment is also contraindicated in medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, epilepsy, porphyria, pregnancy/breastfeeding and results may be limited in women suffering from PCOS.
BBL also cannot be done if you have had recent sunburn or unprotected sun exposure or solarium use 4 weeks prior to treatment.