Permanent IPL & Laser Hair Removal
The pursuit of smooth, hair-free skin is a quest that many embark upon. However, with the plethora of hair removal techniques available, it can be daunting to choose the right one. Two of the most talked-about methods are Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and Laser Hair Removal. But what are they, what are the other benefits beside removing hair and what are the side effects and how do they differ? This article aims to shine a light on these methods, helping you decide on the best option for your skin.
What is IPL vs Laser Hair Removal?
Hair removal treatment can be done either via IPL or laser. It generates precise laser energy for hair removal, using a specific safe wavelength with a particular pulse duration. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is a broad-spectrum light that scatters across the skin to target melanin (the pigment that gives skin and hair its color). As it targets the melanin, it heats up and damages the hair follicle, reducing hair growth. While laser hair removal uses concentrated beams of light (lasers) to target the hair follicle. Like IPL, melanin absorbs this light, which damages the follicle and hinders growth.
There are many different types of lasers available to remove facial hair follicles, like Pico laser, Alexandrite laser, Nd:YAG laser, IPL and many others. The heat produced targets only the damaged growth area (“root”) of your hair, and not your skin. This hair reduction via IPL or laser is therefore a safe modality for all skin types for both women and men.
All body parts containing hair can be treated. We usually treat the face, upper lip, underarms, arms, back, bikini line and legs. The treatment is very fast and most areas can be completed within 15 minutes. However, larger areas like the back and legs will require more time to complete. Results from this treatment are seen 2 weeks after the procedure.
Other Benefits of IPL and Laser Hair Removal
Aside from smooth skin, both Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and laser treatments offer a range of benefits for the skin beyond just hair removal. These technologies have been widely used in dermatology and aesthetic clinics to address various skin concerns like pigmentation removal, acne, acne scars, etc. Here are some of the notable benefits and applications:
Pigmentation and Sun Damage:
- IPL: IPL can target hemoglobin in the blood, making it effective for treating broken blood vessels, spider veins, and rosacea.
- Laser: Lasers such as the pulsed dye laser (PDL) can treat vascular issues like port-wine stains, broken capillaries, and hemangiomas.
- IPL: Known as a "photofacial" or "fotofacial," IPL can stimulate collagen production and improve the overall texture and tone of the skin.
- Laser: Fractional lasers, like the Erbium Yag laser, create controlled micro-injuries that stimulate collagen production and cellular turnover. This results in reduced fine lines, improved skin texture, and a fresher appearance.
Acne and Acne Scars:
- IPL: The light emitted can kill the P. acnes bacteria that cause acne, helping reduce breakouts. It can also reduce redness associated with acne lesions.
- Laser: Certain lasers can target the sebaceous (oil) glands, reducing their activity and, in turn, acne breakouts. For acne scars, non-ablative lasers can improve the skin's texture and reduce the appearance of scars.
- Laser: Lasers like the Nd:YAG can stimulate collagen production deep within the skin, leading to a firmer, tighter appearance over time.
- Laser: Ablative lasers, like Er:YAG lasers, can resurface the skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and age-related texture changes.
Side Effects with IPL and Hair Removal Treatment
IPL and laser hair removal is typically not painful. However, for greater comfort when treating large and sensitive areas, we apply numbing anaesthetic cream before treatment. No specific after care is required for this treatment, and side effects are very rare and almost never permanent. On the odd occasion, some patients may experience slight redness and swelling after the treatment, but these will subside within a few hours to a day later.
Hair reduction lasers can only treat hair that is in the active growth phase. Because hair goes through three different growth phases, you will need to go through a series of five to eight treatments, generally at four to eight week intervals for long term permanent results. The number of treatment sessions and intervals depends on the area treated. Following this clinical protocol, we can attain permanent removal in hair growth in up to 80% of patients treated. Our experience is that arm and leg hair are more receptive to be permanently reduced when compared to facial hair. On some occasions, a few hairs may regrow after some time, so a repeat treatment may be needed.