• What is IPL Hair Removal?

    While there are many types of laser technology used for laser hair removal today, many of us don’t know the differences between them. What’s more, it’s hard to distinguish between lasers that are used for skin rejuvenation treatments, and those meant for removing unwanted hair. IPL laser technology is one type that’s widely used for both skin rejuvenation and laser hair removal. But how does it work in both treatment situations? Are IPL lasers better for one type of treatment over another?

    What Does IPL Stand For?

    IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light. IPL treatments are often referred to as photo rejuvenation, Photofacial or IPL Photofacial due to its use of “selective photothermolysis” during treatment. Photothermolysis is the process by which IPL lasers convert light energy to heat energy and treat unwanted hair and skin pigments. IPL lasers can use photothermolysis to remove unwanted hair, or to correct skin hyperpigmentation, rosacea, age spots and the appearance of sun damage.

  • Hair Growth Rates by Body Area

    Did you know that hair grows on every part of the body, except the soles of your feet, palms of your hands, eyelids, belly button, and lips? That’s a lot of hair growing, and re-growing throughout your lifetime. Of course, body hair growth rates vary significantly from one area of the body to another. Plus, hair growth varies significantly from one individual to another. The same is true for the rate at which hair grows back after being plucked, shaved, waxed, or otherwise removed.

    Types of Hair on the Body
    – Body hair is meant to protect your skin and help regulate body temperature, which is why it grows almost everywhere. The type of hair that grows on the greatest surface are of the body is vellus hair. Vellus is thin, soft, and more transparent than terminal hair. Terminal hair comes from larger follicles, and is long, coarse, and pigmented. Terminal hair can be found on scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, pubic area, peri-anal area, and underarms. In men, terminal hair also occurs on the face and the chest. When balding occurs, it’s actually terminal hair turning into vellus hair.

    Hair Growth Rates
    – These two different types of hair grow at different rates. Terminal hairs generally grow faster than vellus hairs, although in the case of eyebrows and eyelashes, this is not the case. Scalp hair grows at an average rate of .37 mm per day, but varies depending on age, as well as your individual hair growth. Some experience much quicker growth rates, and go into the salon every month or so for a trim, while others experience slower growth rates, and don’t notice a significant change in hair length for many months. Most body hair grows at an average of .27 mm per day. Again, this varies from person to person, as well as age.

    How to “Slow” Hair Regrowth
    – In the case of unwanted body hair, many individuals want to slow down hair growth. Because there is a high demand for slowing hair regrowth, there is a huge market for hair growth inhibitors. These products are creams, lotions, or sprays that claim to slow down the growth of hair, and usually applied after waxing or plucking. However, these products generally do not work. Hair will continue to growth at a fairly constant rate, excepting fluctuations during hormonal cycles (i.e. puberty, menopause). You cannot actually change the rate at which hair grows. When individuals get a wax, for instance, they often notice that hair “grows back much more slowly” than when they shave. Actually, what happens when you get a wax, is that the hair underneath the skin is also ripped from its roots. So, it takes longer for you to see hair above the skins surface than when you shave, because shaving only cuts the hair at the level of the skin—it does not pull the hair from underneath your skin.

    – You can, however, reduce hair. Laser hair removal, for instance, uses laser to destroy the hair in the shaft. IPL or intense pulse light uses light energy to achieve a similar outcome. Individuals receive a series of treatments to reduce the volume of hair growing on the treated body part. The hair grows in three phases (anagen or active, catagen or club hair, and telogen or tired hair), and not every hair is in the same phase of the cycle at the same time. Laser and IPL treatments affect anagen hair. So, a series of treatments is necessary for permanent hair reduction. Sometimes, because hair is reduced after one or two treatments, individuals think the hair is growing back more slowly. Again, this is not the case—you are just experiencing a smaller volume of hair regrowth.

    – These types of treatment permanently disable hair, but they are not 100% effective at permanently removing all hair. Only electrolysis can permanently eliminate hair. Electrolysis uses an electrical current to zap hair at the follicle.

  • Candidates for IPL Hair Removal

    With the advent of new technology, those who were once considered poor candidates for laser hair removal (such as African American skin tones or darker skin, or people with blonde, red, or gray hair) can now receive advanced laser hair removal treatment and achieve outstanding results. In fact, the treatments have become so successful, we’ve had to update our candidacy chart to include virtually everyone. The results still work best for certain hair and skin types, but treatments are becoming more and more available to everyone.

    This being said, if you’ve been considered a poor or “iffy” candidate for hair removal in the past, your success with treatments today depends on the laser hair removal technology utilized by your aesthetic professional. Services that combine radio frequency energy with traditional hair lasers have the best results for darker skin tones and lighter hair follicles. While we classify these special cases as “Neutral,” you’ll want to attend a consultation with 2-3 different providers to determine what laser system will give you the best possible results.

  • Risk

    Normal Side Effects
    Patients most often report experiencing these minor side effects during or following laser hair removal treatments:

    • Redness – after treatment, temporary redness of the skin can occur for 1-3 days on treated areas.
    • Swelling – slight swelling or irritation is possible at the follicle site post treatment, dissipating in 1-3 days.
    • Itching – itching or discomfort can occur on treated areas during laser sessions.
    • Slight Pain or Tingling – many patients report that the sensation of laser hair removal can be likened to the light snapping of a rubber band against the skin. While few find it painful, the sensation can vary depending on the sensitivity of a patient’s skin; for sensitive-skinned patients, most laser clinics provide a topical anesthetic cream or spray to numb the skin.

    Rare Side Effects
    These side effects are experienced less often by patients, and should be brought to the attention of a doctor or laser technician if they persist after treatment:

    • Bleeding or Scabbing – sometimes laser hair removal can irritate hair follicles, such that slight bleeding or the formation of scabs occur. This is often only an issue when areas are being over-treated.
    • Infection – if treated areas aren’t cleaned and disinfected properly prior to treatment, and post-treatment, a minor infection can set in.
    • Bruising – patients with very sensitive skin may experience slight bruising on treated areas.
    • Burning – burns to the skin are most often the result of improperly performed laser hair removal, or because a laser was used inappropriately on a specific skin and hair type. In such cases, the laser’s energy gets absorbed by the skin rather than the hair itself and causes burns.
    • Changes in Skin Pigment – like burn side effects, hyperpigmentation (darkening of skin tone) and hypopigmentation (lightening of skin tone) are rare to occur if laser hair removal is performed by an experienced technician, and by using the correct laser technology. If the laser’s energy is absorbed by the skin tissue rather than the hair follicle, it can either stimulate or inhibit melanin production, thus darkening or lightening skin tone. While this side effect is painless, the results can be permanent unless corrected through other skin treatments. Both hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation are found to be a greater risk for tanned or dark-skinned patients.
    • Purpura – the appearance of small purplish spots, the result of bleeding underneath the skin, is a possible side effect for some patients, but it’s usually as temporary as bruising.
  • Recovery

    The skin surrounding the treatment area will experience short-term erythmia (reddening) which will subside within 12-24 hours. Should the treatment area show signs of excess scabbing you may wish to reduce the overall treatment time or intensity. The application of a post-treatment cooling and healing gel (such as Aloe) is encouraged to speed healing and reduce sensitivity. Instruct the patient to refrain from applying cosmetics or sunbathing for at least 24 hours.


    What Makes IPL Hair Removal Different From Other Laser Hair Removal?
    – Unlike other types of hair removal lasers that use a single light wavelength concentration, such as the Alexandrite Laser or the Diode Laser, IPL lasers use a full spectrum of light wavelengths. IPL lasers can alter the intensity of its pulsed light beams with various filters, but it can’t be refined to a single wavelength. Some patients and professionals claim that the IPL’s greater wavelength spectrum equals less precision and less control, which could mean an increased risk of burns and hair removal side effects with misuse.

    – One of the biggest reasons why IPL lasers are so popular in the hair removal industry is the lower cost. On average, IPL treatments are cheaper than the standard cost of laser hair removal. Additionally, they can treat larger skin portions at a time, so areas like the legs and back can be treated in a fraction of the time required with standard lasers.

    Can IPL Laser Hair Removal Prevent Body Odor?
    – During the process of laser hair removal, the hair shaft is completely destroyed. Once it’s gone, sweat and bacteria can no longer stick to it. While deodorants and antiperspirants treat sweat and odor that’s already there, laser hair removal helps decrease the surface area for possible sweat and bacteria. It’s important to note that laser hair removal has no effect on the hair follicle, so sweating will not decrease due to eliminating the hair follicle or sweat glands. Laser hair removal does prevent body odor, but through the removal of the hair itself, not the sweat glands. To decrease sweating through the sweat glands, look into injectable Botox

    Does Hair minimizing deodorant work?
    – Hair minimizing deodorants might slow down the rate at which your underarm hair grows, but you’ll still need to shave, wax, or use a depilatory. The only way to virtually eliminate the need for hair removal is to get rid of the hair once and for all is through laser hair removal. Laser hair removal destroys the hair follicle so that you no longer have to worry about stubble, shadows, or shaving again. Today’s technological advancements have made it possible for a wide range of skin tones and hair colors to be treated with laser hair removal.

    Am I too Young for IPL Laser Hair Removal?
    – Most cosmetic specialists will not offer laser hair removal to patients under the age of 12. There are several reasons why laser hair removal treatments are not recommended for children. First, it can be difficult for children to sit still for the full treatment. Laser hair removal sessions can take anywhere from twenty minutes to over an hour to complete.

    – Second, despite the safety of laser hair removal, there are some risks, which can be particularly problematic for kids. First, the treatments can cause burning or pigmentation changes in the skin. Additionally, laser hair removal usually involves a certain level of discomfort. Most children’s skin is more sensitive than an adults’, and they may not be able to tolerate what is a minimal level of discomfort for grown-ups.

    How many treatments will I need?
    – Like laser epilation, IPL is a progressively permanent procedure. This means that improvement will be noted over a series of treatments. Due to hair growth cycles and a variety of other factors, an investment of 5-10 treatments over 60-90 days is normal.