Do you have unwanted hair on your face, chest, back, or elsewhere on your body? Have you already tried to get rid of it with shaving, waxing, electrolysis and other painful and time-consuming hair removal methods without much success? Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) hair removal treatment may offer you the perfect solution. We all know about lasers and their uses in hair removal, but Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is less familiar. Interestingly, it received approval for use in permanent hair removal from the U.S. FDA even before laser hair removal was approved in the mid-1990s. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) was originally developed for use in skin rejuvenation and to treat pigmentation irregularities, age spots, rosacea, thread veins, and broken capillaries. When performing those treatments, doctors and patients noticed that one of the beneficial side effects of IPL was the permanent removal of hair. Thus this new use of IPL was introduced and has been very successful.
What is IPL?
IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light. It is a safe and effective method for permanent hair removal that is gaining in popularity, primarily because it is less expensive on average than standard laser hair removal treatment and it’s faster and better. IPL can be used safely and successfully on the face, underarms, legs and other areas of the body. Although they are similar and people often use the terms interchangeably, IPL is not a laser. IPL differs from laser light because it uses multiple wavelengths and produces a more powerful and broader spectrum of light. This means that IPL can deliver more intense energy into the hair follicles than a laser but with less damage to the surrounding skin tissue. Also, filters can be applied to alter the intensity of the light beams, enabling the IPL to cover larger areas more quickly, such as the back and chest. An added bonus is that hair treated with Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is far less likely to grow back than with laser treatment.
Does Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment work on all skin types and colors?
In order for IPL to work, the light must be absorbed into the hair where it will be converted into heat and then destroy the hair follicle. The color black absorbs the greatest amount of visible wavelength light. Hair with little pigment, such as white, grey and blonde, absorbs the least amount. Consequently, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment (and laser treatment in general) will be most effective on darker hair and less so on lighter-colored hair. Another factor is skin color. IPL is only able to target the pigmentation in the hair shaft if it can distinguish between the color of the hair and the color of the skin. This is more difficult if the hair and skin are similar in color. So, just like laser light, IPL seems to work best when removing darker hair from patients with fair to medium complexions. One advantage to using IPL is that the device, or wand, used in treatment is filtered to remove ultraviolet (UV) light and prevent damage to skin tissue. So IPL is safe for use on darker skin types, but more treatments may be necessary to get the best results. If you have a darker complexion, you should be sure to find a practitioner with good experience in using Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) on darker skin.
How long will Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) hair removal take?
The length of each individual Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment will depend on how large an area of hair needs to be removed. One treatment for your upper lip or chin may take as little as 5 minutes. If, however, you are having a full beard removed or the hair on both legs, each IPL treatment may take 90 minutes. For permanent hair removal, you may need anywhere from 3 to 15 IPL treatments, spaced 6 to 8 weeks apart. Hair grows in cycles so several treatments may be necessary to fully remove the hair in the area. Of course this will depend on your skin and hair type and the area of your body that is being treated. If hair does grow back, it will usually be thinner, lighter in color, and easier to remove with another IPL treatment. Most patients claim that Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment successfully removes from 50% to 75% of their unwanted hair within 6 months. This is far faster than either standard laser treatment or electrolysis.
Is Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment painful?
We all have different thresholds for pain and discomfort, but most patients say Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) hair removal treatment feels like a warm sting to the skin. In comparison, patients also say that IPL is far less painful than electrolysis. If you are particularly squeamish, ask your physician to apply a little topical anesthetic to your skin just before treatment. .
Are there any side effects from IPL or things I should avoid?
After treatment, you may feel like your skin is mildly sunburned, but any discomfort should last no more than a few hours. Cold compresses or application of something like aloe vera gel to the skin will ease this discomfort. Side effects from Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) hair removal treatments are minimal, but some patients may experience one or more of the following: Skin redness Mild swelling Crusting or scabbing (may need antibiotic ointment applied) Bleeding (rare) Hyper-pigmentation or hypo-pigmentation (rare) Scarring (rare) Here are some things you should avoid after IPL treatments to make sure you get the very best results: Avoid direct sunlight to the treated areas for at least 4 weeks; Use a sunscreen with SPF of at least 30; Do not shave the treated area for 4 to 5 days; Do not wax, tweeze or bleach the treated area; Avoid harsh soaps – adequately moisturized skin heals faster; Avoid applying any product with fragrance directly to the treated area so you don’t irritate the skin; Do not use any product containing alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA).
How much do the IPL Hair Removal treatments cost?
You can expect to pay prices averaging about $500 for each session of Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) hair removal treatment. The cost of IPL will vary based on the size of the area being treated, how many sessions you need, and your doctor or practitioner’s qualifications and experience. The following prices are estimates only and you should discuss the actual expenses during your consultation with your doctor. Upper lip or chin – $100 to $600 per session (you may need 3 to 6 sessions) Beard (above the neck) – $200 to $400 (if the beard is thick and dark, you may need 3 or 4 sessions) Underarms – $120 to $600 per session (you may need 3 to 6 sessions) Full back & shoulders – $450 to $1,000 (you may need 3 to 6 sessions) Bikini line – $250 to $1,000 (you may need 3 or 4 sessions) Both lower legs – $300 to $800 (you may need 3 or 4 sessions) Just like every other type of procedure, the prices for Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) hair removal treatment will also vary based on geography. Competition in large urban areas may contribute to lower prices or discounts; however, you may find better prices in rural areas simply because the rent and overhead expenses are lower.
How do I find an IPL practitioner?
In the United States, professional hair removal is regulated by state and local authorities. You should do your homework to make sure the practitioner who is treating you is properly certified or licensed (if required) and has the proper techniques for using the Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) equipment properly. Your diligent research will result in fewer required treatments, lower cost, and fewer side effects. Board-certified dermatologists offer Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) hair removal treatment. You may also find it offered by your local medical spa, but don’t simply assume the technician is adequately trained. Poor skill and technique will give poor results, no matter who performs the treatment. Improve your chances of getting great results from Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) hair removal treatment by following these tips: 1. Certification/Licensing – Does your state require this? If so, verify that the practitioner’s license or certificate is valid and current. 2. Recommendations from friends and family – If you know anyone who has had IPL hair removal, ask for recommendations. Former patients are often the best people to ask. 3. Ask questions – Find out how many treatments you may need and ask for a cost estimate. Use this information to compare prices because they can vary dramatically from one practitioner to another.
To sum things up…
Nearly all of us have unwanted hair. For women it may be on the upper lip or bikini line. For men it may be their beard, back or chest hair. Take advantage of the medically proven Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) hair removal method to get rid of this unwanted hair permanently. IPL is less expensive and faster than laser treatment or electrolysis, so it’s well worth your consideration. As usual, however, make sure you spend the time to find the perfect IPL practitioner to ensure that you get perfect results!