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IPL Vs. Lasers: What’s the Difference?

March 22, 2020
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IPL Vs. Lasers

Laser hair removal and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments are both long-term solutions for reducing hair growth. Both methods work in similar ways and are an effective way to eliminate unwanted body hair.

Both IPL and laser hair removal allow patients to achieve their desired results; however, it’s important to determine which treatment method is more suitable for you.

For the Purposes of Hair Removal

One of the primary objectives for light-based hair removal is to achieve a critical temperature in the hair follicle while simultaneously not damaging the surrounding skin tissue. This is achieved by careful control of the amount of light output in both laser and IPL therapies.

When it comes to hair removal, both laser light, and IPL work by the same mechanism:

Step 1: The light (laser or IPL) enters the skin and is absorbed by the melanin (pigment) in the hair shaft.

Step 2: The absorption of light causes the hair shaft and follicle to heat up.

Step 3: When the correct amount of light energy is used, the hair follicle cells heat up to a critical temperature that results in an interruption of the hair growth cycle.

Step 4: Permanent hair loss is achieved once the growth cycle has been entirely disrupted.

How IPL Hair Removal Works

IPL, or Intense Pulsed Light, works by using a source of broad-spectrum visible light. This light source is specially controlled to remove shorter wavelengths and devise to target specific structures. Hair removal is designed to target the melanin pigment in the hairs. The light energy is absorbed, which transfers the heat energy to the hair, causing damage to the follicle.

Benefits of IPL Hair Removal

The coverage of IPL hair removal devices is greater than laser hair removal devices. Therefore, treatment times may be quicker due to larger areas being treated at once. Individual treatments may be considerably more affordable, but you may find that you require more sessions to achieve the same results.

IPL’s use of a broad spectrum light means it can also have different applications. IPL therapy can be used to treat a variety of different skin conditions successfully. Treatment can also be explicitly altered to match different skin and hair types within a treatment.

How Laser Hair Removal Works

Laser hair removal also uses the ability to heat hairs and damage follicles by way of light energy. Lasers differ slightly from IPL by utilizing the specific properties that lasers possess. Lasers can be extremely controlled so that they can be focused into a small area and travel a large distance without spreading. Laser therapies can also produce beams that only contain one color of light. Laser hair removal allows for the laser to go deeper into the pore, giving a concentrated amount of light to the follicle, allowing it to be more precise throughout treatment.

Benefits of Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal devices can focus light down into the pores of the skin, which gets closer to the follicle and ultimately prevents regrowth. Laser hair removal can achieve much quicker results than IPL because single hairs are heated to damaging temperatures at a faster rate. You may need fewer treatments for laser hair removal to achieve the same results.

Laser hair removal can be more suitable for those with darker skin tones. This is because dark skin pigmentation absorbs more light than paler skin due to the amount of melanin (pigment) it contains. There is a risk that darker skin can be heated quickly, so the fact that lasers are more focused on smaller areas of light means they’re better suited for those with darker skin. Some IPL systems are still suitable to be used on darker skin tone, so check with your provider before starting any therapies.

Either Way, Results Take Time

Neither laser hair removal or IPL therapy will produce immediate results. Unlike waxing, you won’t leave the treatment session with entirely smooth, hair-free skin. The hairs will instead begin to drop out as they die over the next few weeks. Those hairs which have not been affected due to the state of the growth cycle during treatment will require another session.

Hairs that do continue to grow will do so at a slower rate, so you won’t need to shave as often. Most find that they can achieve permanent hair loss after 1-10 sessions, with an average of 6 sessions for adequate results.

Radiance Skincare & Laser Medspa is here to help you determine which therapy is the best option for your skin. For more information, call us to schedule a consultation appointment.

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