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Hair Removal – Laser or IPL?

May 10, 2017

There can be no doubt that permanent hair reduction treatment has well and truly taken off in recent years and the days of waxing and shaving appear to be numbered.  Although the cost of treatment is higher than traditional methods of temporary hair removal, people have quickly worked out that permanent hair reduction is by far the cheaper option in the long term, not to mention much more convenient.  As the owner of a laser clinic, the question I get asked the most is.. “What is the difference between laser and IPL?”

Well, the difference between Laser and IPL is that IPL uses a broad spectrum of light, or to be slightly more scientific, it transmits pulses of light made up of multiple wavelengths.  Different treatments and conditions require different wavelengths and hence the benefit of IPL is that it can treat a variety of concerns.  For example, shorter wavelengths are required to treat pigmentation and capillaries as they sit higher in the skin whereas hair follicles sit deeper in the dermis.  This means that a single IPL machine can be used to treat pigment, broken capillaries, hair and much more.  Sounds great right?  Well, not necessarily.  The problem with this approach is that by delivering a broad range of wavelengths at the same time you are in fact hitting multiple areas at once, which is not always desirable.  It also means that the amount of energy that can be delivered to a specific depth is limited as the total energy delivered to the skin can become excessive and cause burns.  This is why the majority of serious burns are from IPL treatments.   Laser on the other hand is light that is focused at one specific wavelength and therefore depending on what machine you use is specific to a smaller range of concerns.  The major advantage of this is that the energy can be maximised as it is only reaching the desired area and in many cases, particularly hair removal, this will lead to superior results.

This is not an anti-IPL blog, IPL still has its benefits and some treatments such as facial rejuvenation can often work better with IPL due to the light energy reaching multiple depths of the skin at the same time.  However, in the case of hair removal, Laser will generally destroy more far more follicles per treatment than IPL and hence achieve quicker results and with less number of treatments.  This is why Clinica-Lase only use Candela GentleLase medical grade laser machines for hair removal.

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