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IPL Hair Removal Effectiveness

I´m studying skin therapist in Stockholm and I´m working on a study about laser and IPL. And the question is : which technology is the best for hair removal? I´ll also buy a machine for my clinic in october 2008 and I´m searching for a machine that is effective, safe and works on a wide range of haircolors as possible. I´ve also read about diodlaser, a combination od radiofrequency and IPL, and that it´s the newest technology.

Doctor Answers 12

Lasers are more effective than IPL for hair removal

The most effective hair removal occurs with lasers not IPL. In addition, IPL is least effective and has the most side effects for darker skin types because it does not have the correct wavelength range (1064 nm) to effectively treat this skin. The most effective types of lasers for permanent hair removal are:

  • Diode and Alexandrite (light skinned patients)
  • Long Pulsed Nd:Yg (dark skinned patients)

If you are in Stockholm your best bet is going to be the Lumenis Lightsheer for safety, efficacy and durability. It is the gold standard for light skinned hair removal.

Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Lasers are better for hair removal


Most laser hair removal studies show that for permanent "Hair Reduction" 755nm or 810nm Lasers work the best. Dark hair responds the best and blond hair has the poorest response. Many treatments will cause the hairs to enter telogen, but don't offer good hair reduction when patients are followed long term.

Daniel Reichner, MD
Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Lasers are betters than IPL for hair removal

IPL and lasers can both be used for laser hair removal. IPL is safer for darker skin types but it takes longer to achieve permanent results. Diode lasers are usually very effective and work best on light skin and dark hair. They also require less treatments.

Lasers or IPL for hair removal

I use both. The lasers work better and are safer for darker skinned patients. But, I feel that alternating the two during alternate treatment sessions is more effective than one alone.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Lasers vs. IPL

Both lasers and ipl can be effective. For an understanding of which modality is right for you, visit an experienced practitioner.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

What is the effectiveness of IPL for Hair Removal?

Hi there, 

I recently did a review of this topic and posted it about it in a blog I wrote. If you are interested in learning more about IPL's it may be usefull to check it out.  There are some studies that compare diode lasers to IPL and I mention them in the article. 

James P. Bonaparte, MD, MSc, FRCSC
JB Cosmetics and Facial Surgery Center of Ottawa
Head and Neck Surgery
practicing in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

James Bonaparte, MD, MSc, FRCSC
Ottawa Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Studies Show Both IPL and Lasers Work for Hair Removal

I love reading answers that pop up with questions like this. The issue is not which works better, but which does the doctor answering the question have that he or she wants to promote that is at play here.

Some of the answers already given are correct: both work, and there are clinical studies that support one versus the other and vice versa. I did the original IPL hair removal studies. I like this technology but do more laser work these days. Lasers are faster for the most part, they are not as painful, and they work efficiently for my patients. But remember, both work.

Michael Gold, MD
Nashville Dermatologic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

IPL or Laser - which to choose?

Light, be it IPL or Lasers allow you to achieve hair removal because the hair follicle and hair shaft absorb light of certain wavelength's or colors and reflect the others. That is why objects look a certain color - because they reflect to your eye the colors they DO NOT absorb. In the case of hair, you want to deliver an intense pulse of light to the hair follicle and shaft of a color that will be absorbed by the tissue. This causes sudden heating of the tissue and its ultimate destruction.

First it is important that you understand the difference between the two technologies -

1. IPL - Intense pulsed light (also known as BBL - broadband light on the Sciton machines) - this is highly concentrated pulses of light of many different colors (wavelengths). It is effective against hair because some of the wavelengths of light delivered are absorbed by the tissue and result in follicular heating and destruction.

2. Laser - This is light of only one wavelength or color. It is collimated which means all the rays of light are parallel and not scattered as with IPL. If the wavelength of the laser light beam matches what the target tissue (the hair follicle) will absorb, then you are using all your available light energy for the purpose desired and so it is more efficient. there are many different wavelengths of light used for hair removal, to name a few of the more common:

Nd-Yag 1064, Alexandrite 755 and Diode 800 but there are many more types for different purposes. Some lasers are best for darker skinned patients to reduce the risk of pigmentation problems. Some lasers are faster for hair removal (ie diode) than others (Alexandrite).
There is more to this than just picking a wavelength - you have to consider the delivery system - is the laser energy delivered evenly to reduce risk of burning the skin, how do you make adjustments to protect from burning the skin or getting post treatment pigmentation problems.

I did many years of research on the technology before pulling the trigger and purchasing a system. Although there are several good systems around, I settled on the Palomar Vectus LASER system for a few reasons:

1. It is a Diode laser which makes it useful for skin types I - VI.
2. The delivery system has a broad treatment area making it quick and easy to obtain excellent results on even the most challenging of surfaces like a hair male patient's back.  In comparison tests with the Lumenis Duet system, also a very good system, it performed much more efficiently.
3. The energy dispersion is much more even than the Duet, so there is less risk of burns and undertreated areas.

4. SAFETY - this is a big one for me - it has a "Skin-Tel" system which allows the operator of the laser to take measurements of the patients melanin content (pigment) in their skin and the computer in the laser makes automatic adjustments in the energy delivery so as not to over treat or burn a patient.

My office has had this laser for almost two years and we are very happy with it as are our patients. I hope that this answers your questions.

Elyse Rafal, MD
Stony Brook Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

IPL for hair removal - choose lasers instead

With the advancement in technology in laser hair removal over the last several years, it is not a surprise that there is confusion about what works best to get the optimum results you are looking for as a patient.  After all, you do deserve the best, right?  First, lets look at what makes laser and IPL different.

A LASER is a specific type of light that is the brightest and most powerful light available.  It is extremely specific and calibrated and the light does not spread out.  It is concentrated and focused into one precise spot at a time making it very powerful and accurate.

An IPL or INENSE PULSED LIGHT is a light based device that is distributed through a filter that is scattered over a surface almost as if a light bulb’s light spreads. A more shallow penetration in comparison to laser means that deeper, thicker hairs are not treated effectively.

Both treatments produce energy in order to interrupt the growth cycle of the hair follicles to reduce hair growth without damaging the surrounding tissue.  The similarities end here.

There are many published studies that prove lasers to be more effective than IPL.   

There are lasers safe and effective for all skin colors. The Alexandrite laser is safest and most effective for light to medium toned skin and the Long pulsed nd yag is most effective and safest for darker skin types. IPL has never been shown to be as effective as these lasers for hair removal and can potentially cause significant damage to the skin.

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 70 reviews

Laser recommendations

There are many good systems out there today. The 1064 laser is a good system for darker skin and dark hair. But to get lighter hair you will need the 755 or 810 diode. The diode with RF can be used on skin types from I-VI, but the hand piece is heavier and more cumbersome. There is no 1 perfect laser hair removal system. There are also combination systems with both 1064 and 755, which are individualized to the patient.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.