IPL can remove some flat pigmented moles (mainly lentigines - also known as freckles or age spots). It's not usually recommended for actual moles because it might not penetrate deeply enough to remove the entire mole and there is a risk of the mole returning. However there is a negligible scarring risk, so in the for the right type of pigmented skin lesion, IPL is highly recommended.
IPL is often recommended for removing moles that are pigmented and flat. Strictly speaking, these are not usually moles but rather lentigines (also known as sun spots or age spots), angiomas or telangiectasia (shallow clusters of blood vessels in the skin). IPL is very effective in removing these types of skin lesion, although repeated treatments may be required for the maximum effect.
The benefits of IPL skin lesion removal are:
- Minimal damage to the skin surface, meaning no downtime. In most cases, after having a skin lesion removed by IPL you can return to work, wash your hair and do most normal activities straight away (although you should be careful to avoid strenuous exercise, strong heat and direct sun exposure for a few days after treatment).
- Skin lesions and moles are removed without scarring in almost all cases
IPL can also be used to remove a mole in certain circumstances:
- The mole must have been examined by an experienced (preferably accredited) skin cancer doctor or dermatologist, who must be certain that it's not a melanoma or other skin cancer
- The examining doctor may decide to perform some non-invasive tests to further reduce the risk of misdiagnosing a melanoma. These may include serial dermoscopic photography (i.e. photographing the mole and then re-photographing it later to make sure it's not changing), AI image analysis , and/or spectroscopic analysis
- The mole must be flat and pigmented enough for there to be clear contrast between it and the underlying skin
- There must be minimal risk of causing unwanted skin damage (e.g. excessive pigmentation) which sometimes occurs in darker-skinned people or those who have melasma/chloasma, a common pigmentation disorder affecting the face. These people may obtain a better result from mole removal using specialised laser equipment.
Because IPL doesn't penetrate deeply into the skin, there's a risk of a mole returning following IPL treatment.