The difference between Laser Hair Removal & IPL - VC Dermal Clinics

Does IPL Laser Hair Removal Work

Laser / December 29, 2020

IPL stands for intense pulsed light. Depending on the wavelenght of the IPL system that is used for laser hair removal, it can be very effective. If the wavelength is is the appropriate range, the light targets the pigment in the hair follicle deep in the skin. The light is attracted to the pigment in the follicle and heats it up and most-likely kills the stem cells in the bulge region of the hair follicle that make it possible for new hairs to be formed in the future. So, once those cells are gone, no more hairs can be made and you have hair-less skin!

Thank you for your question.

I'm going to answer this in simple terms so hopefully no one reading this will get confused. The targets of our laser treatments (the melanin of the hair bulb, the hemoglobin of blood cells, the water in our skin layers) absorb energy at certain wavelengths of light. When the target absorbs this wavelength energy, heat is produced and the target (and the surrounding tissue in some cases) is destroyed.

Lasers use an specific infrared wavelength to provide that energy to the target. In the case of hair removal, the wavelengths of the infrared light usually fall around 700-1100 nanometers (nm). For example, alexandrite lasers use 755nm, diode lasers use 800nm, and Nd:YAG lasers use 1064nm. All of these will target the melanin in the hair and cause it to heat up and destroy the hair bulb.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) does not use a specific wavelength, but rather a range of wavelengths (e.g. 600-1200nm) to target the hair melanin.

Both of these treatments target hair efficiently and effectively, and in the same exact theoretical way. You can feel confident going with an IPL or a dedicated wavelength laser for hair removal.

Hope that explains it!

IPL (pulsed light) is absorbed by melanin (chromophore) in brown or black hair causing a thermal injury (selective photothermolysis) to the follicles of actively growing hairs (anagen). IPL is a light based therapy which offers 40-50% reduction. It will thin the hair, but not really deliver permanent results. True laser is the better option offering 80-99% permanent hair reduction depending on what area of the body is being treated.

An IPL, or intense pulsed light machine is essentially a very bright flashbulb. These machines are capable of producing a broad spectrum of light wavelengths, but more specific ranges of wavelengths can be chosen depending on the desired treatment.

In general, IPL works by targeting particular colors with specific wavelengths of light that correspond to these colors. When flashes of light are driven into tissue, the light is absorbed by the cells that contain the colors that correspond with these particular wavelengths. For laser hair removal, wavelengths are utilized that will target the hair color, which can range from light to dark brown. The surrounding skin tissue, being lighter in color, does not absorb very much of the heat, and therefore remains unharmed. It is for this reason that it is difficult to perform laser hair removal on persons with very light hair or very dark skin. The wavelengths of light must be specific enough to target the hair without affecting the skin. Some machines are capable of doing this safely, while others are not.