Intense Pulsed Light Hair Removal | Is It Really Permanent?
A common misconception about intense pulsed light hair removal is that it’s a one time treatment and the hair is gone forever. That couldn’t be further from the truth! But are these hair removal methods really permanent? Let’s clear up the confusion.
Intense pulsed light, or IPL, is the process of hair removal using a specific combination of pulse and wavelength of light that damages the hair follicle.
Is IP Light Hair Removal The Same As Laser Removal?
IP light hair removal is often confused with laser hair removal since they both utilize what’s viewed as a“laser” type of light. However, IPL treatments use what’s known in the scientific world as non coherent light as opposed to laser hair removal that use laser generated, coherent light.
So, what’s the difference between those types of lights?
In basic terms, the difference between IP Light hair removal and laser removal is the type of light and wavelength that is being used to damage the skin follicle. What you need to know is that one isn’t necessarily better than the other as both are widely performed and accepted forms of hair removal in the dermatology community.
How Does IPL Work?
As stated before, IPL uses a specific combination of pulse and light wavelengths to damage the root of the hair. Normally performed by a physician using a hand-held wand, the light travels through the surface of the skin, right down to the root of the hair. The light is then converted into heat energy which actually vaporizes the bulb of the hair follicle causing the hair to be destroyed. Along with that, the heat energy also damages the reproductive qualities of the hair.
The entire process described above happens in the matter of a millisecond for each pulse.
Sounds painful, right? How painful?
The IPL Pain Factor
You know the old saying, “No pain, no gain”? Well it sort of rings true when we talk about IP Light hair removal and the pain associated with the treatment. In doing a bit of research, we’ve found that the pain is different for everyone, depending on a number of factors including…
- Pain threshold
- Man or Woman (usually men have a lower pain threshold)
- Area of the body being treated
With that being said, IPL treatment pain has been compared to a small rubber band snap on the skin, or a grease splatter like when you are deep frying and get a little bit of grease on your hand/arm. So, it’s actually not that bad if you think of it in those terms.
Redness or irritation after the treatment should only last a couple hours after. To minimize the initial pain and swelling post IPL treatment, some patients will take an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen before going in for the process.
Are IP Light Treatments Permanent?
The quick and complicated answer to that question is: Yes and No. IPL has been referred to as more of a permanent hair reduction, rather than permanent hair removal. In fact, IPL manufacturing companies have not been able to permit any clinic, spa or dermatologist to make the claim that IPL is a permanent solution to hair removal.
However, IPL will seriously reduce the amount of hair that grows back in the treated area. Patients have reported that, although it eventually grows back, it is severely limited and the hairs are much finer that they were prior to the procedure. 80 to 90% of the volume of the area treated is permanently removed, so technically it’s not 100% effective.
The thing to remember: Rather than referring to it as IP Light Hair Removal, the proper term is IPL Hair Reduction.
For permanent solution, see: Electrolysis Hair Removal
How Many IPL Treatments Do I Need?
IPL is not a one-time visit. It takes multiple applications for you to have the best result.
Generally speaking, patients return for around 5 – 6 treatments initially, then repeat visits down the road once the hair is given an opportunity to reappear. If it does, and you are not happy with it, you can have repeat treatments done.
Where Do I Get Intense Pulsed Light Treatment?
There are numerous hair removal clinics, spas and dermatology centers across the country that are equipped to administer IPL. As we always preach, it’s important that you do your homework and get references to the clinics in your area. When you visit a clinic, ask for references and their qualifications. If everything checks out, set up a consultation so that you are aware of everything that is involved at your specific clinic.
In recent years, the FDA has approved numerous “at-home” IPL and laser hair removal machines that allow you to perform your own treatment in the privacy of your own home. Although the initial price seems steep (anywhere from $200 to over $500), the money you will save in the long run is well worth the investment, and best of all, it’s safe since it’s FDA approved!
However, do your homework! Read reviews, find out all the specifics and research these home laser machines prior to spending the money. Some of them on the market today are great, while others don’t have quality results.