Laser Hair Removal - IPL Hair Removal

Treatment information

Laser, IPL, and RF-treatments use light impulses, which penetrate through the upper layer of the skin and deposits its energy into the hair follicles, destroying them. 4-8 treatments will typically result in a reduction of 80-90% of the hair.

About laser Hair Removal - IPL Hair Removal

A laser or IPL machine can be used for permanent hair removal of dark hairs. Because the method is dependant on the melanin (pigment) in the hair, this means that fair, red, and grey hair cannot be removed with this method.

For persons with a dark skin complexion, the treatment will be possible, but the power of the light will have to be reduced, thereby giving a less pronounced result.

A new technique, which is supposed to be able to remove fair, red, and grey hairs, is RF-treatment. RF (Radio Frequency) are radio waves, that can be used in connection with IPL. The radio waves are independent of both the skin's and the hair's pigmentation, and the method should therefore be able to remove fair, red, and grey hairs regardless of the patient's skin colour.

Hair removal with laser or IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) works by sending light pulses with a high energy level down through the skin, after which the light energy is deposited as heat into the hair follicles, causing them to burn down and die.

Each follicle has its own growth cycle. A hair will grow out, fall off, and then have a resting period. Laser, IPL and RF treatments can only remove hairs from the growth stage. Because of this, 4-8 treatments with 2-5 months in between each treatment is required in order to get to all of the hairs of the treated area. Due to this, permanent hair removal with laser, IPL or RF can become a long-lasting and expensive project.

The exact amount of treatments required are dependant on many factors. Gender, age, ethnic origin, diet, weight, hormones, and metabolism are individual factors that have an impact on the result. In most cases, a perfect result shouldn't be expected. Instead you should expect a to require a follow-up treatment every 6 months, or every year, in order to maintain the hair-free look.

The difference between laser and IPL is primarily found in the actual light used, although both types of lights are used in the same way to remove hair, and there are no studies to show, that one method is better than the other.

Generally on non-Ablative Skin Laser and IPL

The skin
Cross section of the skin. A non-ablative laser or IPL machine sends light down through the top layer of skin (the epidermis) without damaging it. The heat energy is then focused on the underlying dermis. The machine can be adjusted to the type of tissue meant to receive the heat energy. This could be the skin itself, blood vessels, or hair plugs.
With a non-ablative skin laser or IPL machine the light is sent "past" the top layer of the skin without affecting it, after which the light focuses its heat energy on tissue in the underlying dermis area.

Non ablative laser, IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) and RF (Radio Frequency/Radio Waves) make use of special filters to decide which part of the tissue that is to absorb the heat energy from the light and thereby disintegrate.

There are several different laser, IPL and RF machines available in the many different clinics out there. The manufacturers each claim that their equipment is the best, and each clinic will typically prefer a particular machine.

Here is a list of some of the different non-ablative lasers, IPL, and RF machines in use today:

- Ellipse (IPL)
- PowerLite (IPL)
- Harmony (IPL)
- Elos (IPL & RF)
- Accent (RF)
- CoolGlide (Laser)
- LightSheer (Laser)
- Diodelaser (Laser)
- Fraxel (Laser)
- Pixel (Laser)


The efficiency of laser and IPL depends on the contrast between the skin and the hairs. The lighter the complexion, and the thicker and darker the hair, the better.

Laser and IPL cannot remove fair, red or grey hair, and people with a dark complexion are not suited for the treatment.

IPL systems combined with RF should, however, be able to remove hair, regardless of the skin tone and the colour of the hair itself.

Fit and healthy people over the age of 18 are suited for treatment with laser, IPL (Intense Pulsed Light), and RF (Radio Frequency).

The procedure

If the patient have not done this before arriving at the clinic, the hair in the area is shaven off.

The treatment provider adjusts the power of the light according to which area to be treated, the patient's skin tone, and the pain threshold of the patient. If the power is too low, many of the hairs will not fall out. If set too high, it can result in pigmentation changes of the skin, and the patient can get second-degree burns. Due to this, it is very important, that the treatment provider is experienced in using the machine.

The treatment provider will now run the laser head across the skin and the machine will send out light pulses, which then penetrates through the skin and become absorbed by the hair follicles.

When using the laser or IPL method, the heat from the light is absorbed by the melanin in the hair follicles. This causes the carbon particles to burn away, making the hair follicle unable to produce hair.

With the RF method, the IPL is used to warm up the hair sheath while radio waves make the hair follicles coagulate and die.

After the treatment, the hairs will continue to grow, but after 2 weeks or so, the hair follicles will fall out. The patient will be ready for a new treatment, as soon as the hair in the next cycle has grown out. The speed of the hair growth depends on the area of the body.

The treatment can take a few minutes to several hours, all depending on the area of the body that is to be treated.

Prior to the treatment, the treatment provider should gather information on allergies that the patient might have, the patient's use of medicine, former skin problems or infections, sun exposure, and tendency of forming hypertrophic scars or keloids.

In some cases, a cooling gel is applied onto the area to be treated.Anaesthesia

With every light pulse, there will be a mild pain, which can best be described as being hit with an rubber band. The denser the hair, and the thinner the skin, the stronger the pain will be. In the face, the treatment can be particularly painful.

If the pain is too unpleasant for the patient, the treatment provider can turn down the light intensity, although this will mean a less successful result.

The treatment is most often performed without the use of anaesthetics, and done on an outpatient basis. In some cases, a locally sedative gel can be applied onto the area to be treated.

The treatment can cause anywhere from mild tickling to moderate pain, depending on the area and type of tissue that is treated.


After the treatment, the skin might go red and break out. This will quickly fade, though.

After the treatment the patient will be left feeling sunburnt. This will usually go away after an hour or so. Some may experience itching.

In some cases, the skin will be reddish or bronze coloured 5-7 days after the treatment. Minimal swellings might occur, but these will wear off within 2-3 days.

Risk of complications

Possible complications with the non-ablative laser and IPL treatment are long lasting reddening of the skin, wound formation, swelling, blistering, pigmentation changes with dark, light, or white colouring of the skin, infection with bacteria, virus or fungus, and scar tissue formation.

Complications after treatments with these non ablative lasers and IPL/RF are very rare, though.

Healing and recovery

After the treatment, the patient will be able to return to normal activities. It is strongly advised to avoid direct sunlight during the first 2-3 days after the treatment.

Duration of the result

Actually, there is no such thing as permanent hair removal. The individual hair follicles are permanently removed, but new hair follicles will continue to form.

The duration of the results from the treatment depends on various of factors. Most people will be able to maintain the result with a yearly or half-yearly follow-up treatment.

Women will usually experience a more permanent result than men because the male hormone plays a vital role when it comes to the development of body hair.