Hair removal with intense pulsed light
A new method of hair removal, known as Incoherent
Intense Pulsed Light Treatment or IPL, is an extremely safe and
to achieve successful hair removal. It has brought great new rewards
for people who are interested in the removal of unwanted hair.
In the past, lasers have often been used to remove unwanted hair.
The many laser methods that were used, however, were not as
safe as they are today.
Scientists used ruby lasers, aluminum-garnet lasers and alexandrite lasers
to try and successfully remove unwanted hair. None of these older methods
were fully effective so scientists tried this newest method known as IPL.
To understand this new IPL method of hair removal better, it will
be helpful to look at the experiments that scientists have done
and then try to understand
the conclusions that have been drawn.
The main experiment which was performed by scientists with IPL
involved 210 patients - all of which had unwanted hair. The
unwanted hair was dispersed
on various parts of the patients’ bodies and so the patients agreed
to use the IPL method as a way of removing the unwanted hair. Every six weeks,
the patients were treated with the method known as IPL and, after a certain
amount of time; it was found that there was a significant reduction of about
80% of the unwanted hair. This reduction happened over a period of roughly
four to seven months. Most remarkably was the fact that the reduction occurred
with no side effects and very few problems or complications for the patients.
The science behind IPL is now very well understood and can be explained more
IPL involves the absorption of energy into the hair follicle from
a laser. The hair follicle takes the energy from the laser into
its cells and is then
reduced as a result of the lasers energy. The problem, however, is that the
surrounding skin can also absorb this laser energy and there can be a burning
of the skin around the hair follicle. In certain types of darker skin, the
absorption of the laser’s energy is even greater and the patient is
at a higher risk of experiencing burns. Because of this problem, scientists
have discovered different ways to reduce the amount of energy absorbed by
the skin. The energy can be more focused by making laser light pulsate and
can therefore be limited to the hair follicle only.
There are more ways to reduce the risk of laser light treatment
than just the focusing of the pulsation in the laser beam. Other
factors such as the
wavelength of the light beam can play a factor in safety for darker skinned
people. Other factors can be used to determine what scientists call the proper "fluence" of
the light beam. The fluence is what determines how strong the energy will
be on the follicle. Lighter skinned people require a higher fluence than darker
skinned people. In order to obtain effective treatment on the patients’ hair
follicles, scientists are constantly adjusting the fluence to suit the individual
In order to find ways to increase the safety and effectiveness
of the IPL treatment, scientists applied several different procedures
to their experiment
and discovered various results. First, a transparent gel is always applied
to the skin before the laser is used. If there is any sign of burning on the
skin after the first treatment, the treatment can be postponed and the patient
can be given a topical steroid cream and some ibuprofren to recover. Technicians
can also use ice to cool the surrounding skin of the patient who may have
The long term effects of IPL treatment are very good according
to the documented reports of patients. Five years after the
initial treatment was given, 67
% of the patients reported being either "satisfied" or "very
satisfied" with the results that they had obtained.
Overall, laser hair removal is not considered to be a permanent solution to
unwanted hair. It usually requires repeated visits every few years in order
to maintain a high level of satisfaction. It is interesting to note, however,
that 67% of the patients were still satisfied after five years time. The original
experiment proved to be extremely successful.
IPL has truly become a beacon of light for many people who have unwanted hair.
It is extremely safe and effective and is gaining popularity each year. Thanks
to the wonders of science, IPL will likely be a great benefit for many years
removal with intense pulsed light references
- Bedewi AF. Hair removal with intense pulsed
light. Lasers Med Sci. 2004 Aug; 19(1):48-51. PMID: 15278721