IPL Hair Removal vs Laser Hair Removal

Deciding on a hair removal procedure is not simple task especially with the variety of machines, salons and solutions available today. The most used technology for hair removal is IPL (intense pulsed light) and various devices which come under laser hair removal category.

How you go to determine which treatment will meet your individual needs the best?

My answer is research. Laser hair removal and IPL hair removal based on are related principles and work on similar methods. 

A laser is a traditional light device that puts out high-energy light of a specific wavelength.  So it’s really limited what kind of skin type – hair type combination to treat. For instance, an Alexandrite laser has excellent hair removal properties but is not as useful for darker skin types.  YAG laser can be used in all skin colours but is not as effective.

An Intense Pulsed Light machines (IPL in short) emits out broadband light at high energy.  It uses various filters on that light to opt in for the desirable range of wavelengths. One single IPL device can provide hair removal for a range of different skin types and hair colour successfully. In addition IPL machines typically have large spot sizes, making them fast as well as versatile.

In short, if you are fair skinned person with darker hair then you are the ideal candidate for hair removal with any device.  You can achieve good results with any device mentioned above however better if they stay away from YAG laser. 

If you are a darker skinned person you should opt in for YAG, red-filtered IPL, or diode.  There is a well-known risk of burns when getting laser or IPL hair removal that rises in proportion to pigment or tanning of the skin. 

Discuss all associated risks with your hair removal provider and avoid sun exposure before and after treatment.

There have been numerous studies confirming that IPL devices work well for hair reduction.

Success of IPL for hair reduction depends on

  • specific device is used – reputable manufacturer or new comer in medical equipment manufacturer
  • adequate training and experience of the operator
  • device settings which basically will come out of two points above

 IPL vs Laser hair removal

Lets’ start by listing advantages of  IPL hair removal treatments:

  • Much wider spectrum of skin tones and hair colors can be treated with IPL compare to  some other types of laser devices
  • TGA has approved IPL for permanent hair reduction in Australia
  • Due to larger applicator size IPL hair removal is  more cost effective than laser treatments
  • There is less risk of permanent skin damage from an IPL treatment than from laser hair removal
  • Many patients report that IPL is less painful than laser hair removal

There are also a few drawbacks to IPL hair removal, including:

  • IPL hair removal is still a young technology however some device manufactures already come out with  3rd and even 4th generation of IPL machines
  • Multiple sessions of IPL hair removal treatments required to reach the desired outcome
  • Level of discomfort during IPL procedures is relatively high, but again it depends on IPL machine and operator experience
  • Limited training for IPL hair removal. In general training only consists of a machine operation
  • Side effects eg burns and hyper pigmentation, particularly if the practitioner is not experienced or trained properly in the procedure 
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