Many often, patients ask me this question – what is the difference between IPL and laser treatment? Why do some salons offer IPL hair removal for such low prices and clinics offer laser treatment at much higher prices?
Before we answer this question – we need to understand what is the difference between the two. IPL stands for intense pulsed light. It uses a lamp to emit light energy in different wavelength to treat a lot of things. Think of it as a Jack of all trades. For the case of the hair, it uses light energy to heat up the hair follicles which in turn destroys the hair. Because IPL is non-specific, it heats up the surrounding skin as well. So there is a higher risk for burns and you need to increase the energy to high levels to achieve the same results as laser. Because darker skin types have higher melanin levels, IPL is generally not recommended for use in these patients.
Lasers are very powerful machines. And there are many different lasers around – each serves a different purpose. The typical laser used for hair removal is the Nd yag long pulse 1064. It is able to target the melanin in the hair follicle more effectively than IPL. Fewer sessions are needed and the treatment is generally less painful because the surrounding skin is not heated up as much as IPL. Laser machines, unfortunately are more expensive, and are only sold to licensed professionals – that explains the higher cost.
Many patients do come to me after multiple sessions of IPL hair removal to tell me that the results from IPL are much slower and the hair do grow back after a few years. If you are thinking of choosing between IPL and laser hair removal, you may want to discuss with a doctor to find out more about laser hair removal, before deciding to take up the cheaper but less effective IPL hair removal treatment.