There is often some confusion amongst our patients when it comes to understanding the difference between IPL and laser hair removal.
Both treatments produce energy in order to disrupt the growth cycle of each hair follicle to reduce hair growth without damaging the surrounding tissue. However, this is where the similarity ends.
The main differences between Laser and IPL hair removal, lie in the technology that each use to generate the light. We explain this in more detail below.
Here at The Private Clinic we only use laser technology for hair removal rather than IPL based technology, and the main reasons for this are:
- Laser technology is simply much more effective, and achieves substantially better results than IPL – 90% of patients have permanent hair loss after 3-5 sessions.
- IPL is a cheaper, less effective technology for reducing body hair
- Lasers are far more precise, and can selectively target dark, coarse hairs while leaving the surrounding skin undamaged.
- Each laser pulse takes a fraction of a second and can treat several hairs at a time.
- Laser hair removal can be used to treat larger body areas.
- Laser settings can be adjusted to suit your specific skin tone and hair colour
- Lasers are safe for all skin colours, whereas IPL can cause burns on darker skin tones.
Laser machines produce a single wavelength of light (pure light consisting of one single colour and form), which has a very concentrated beam and specific target (the melanin in hair follicle).
The type/colour of your hair and skin will determine the tuning settings of the machine and will be discussed with you during your test patch consultation. Laser machines are tuned to emit the exact wavelength required to treat your hair.
Laser machines create more heat directed at the hair follicle than IPL systems, hence achieving better results.
The heat is absorbed by the follicle and not the skin, therefore there is a decreased risk of burning when using Laser machines – this also makes laser a safer option for darker skinned individuals.
IPL plays an important role in the treatment of the skin, such as treating superficial pigmentation and fine blood vessels. However, for hair removal this treatment isn’t as effective as laser removal methods, and here’s why…
IPL’s are not lasers. The machines produce a broad spectrum of wavelengths (like a light bulb) and cannot be focused to a concentrated beam. Because a range of different wavelengths are dispersed at a variety of depths only some of these will be effective for hair reduction.
A more shallow penetration in comparison to laser means that deeper, thicker hairs are not treated effectively. In addition, some of the light cannot be absorbed into the surrounding tissue as well, leading to heating of the pigment in the skin. This is why there is more of a risk of burns for a darker skin type.
The cost of a Laser treatment in comparison with IPL is higher, however there are a number of factors that determine this price difference, such as: the different costs of the machines (a laser machine is much more expensive to purchase); the different efficacy of the treatment (laser is much more effective than IPL); the different requirements to use a laser as opposed to an IPL (all our clinics must be registered by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), while some beauty salon can offer IPL treatments without falling under the remit of the CQC). This is the reason that the same areas, such as legs, underarms etc, might be priced differently from one outlet to the next.
A word of advice from us, the next time you hear about an offer from a friend or see a deal online about hair removal treatments, which sounds too good to be true, always ask what technology is going to be used. Is it a Laser machine or an IPL machine? The answer will hopefully then help you to make an informed decision on whether to go ahead with the treatment or not.