Is IPL for Hair Removal Worth It? How Many IPL Treatments Required on Average?

I have dark hair/light skin. I've been using IPL for full body hair removal. 3 sessions so far and the results are great. Hairs are barely growing back in between monthly sessions! I've been reading on this site that lasers are preferred to IPL! I'm starting to have doubts about continuing. Am I wasting my time/money on IPL? Will results not last? Should I start laser instead? On average how many IPL & laser sessions for descent results? Is laser just quicker or are there other benefits?

Doctor Answers 3

IPL for hair removal

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IPL is one way to remove hair, but laser systems (not light systems) are more effective and safer for all skin types. Most importantly, make sure you go to a medical clinic that has highly trained staff and the best equipment (e.g. lightsheer duet, etc). ~ Dr. Benjamin Barankin, Toronto Dermatology Centre.

Toronto Dermatologic Surgeon

IPL vs. Laser Hair Reduction

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Some would consider the LightSheer laser to be the gold standard for hair removal, but there are plenty of other systems, IPL included, that work very well. It is just as important to have an experienced technician perform the treatments and making appropriate adjustments. One of the problems with using IPL for hair removal is that it is only applicable on lighter skin types; a laser must be used to safely treat darker skinned individuals. No matter what light source is used, only those hairs which are actively growing will be effectively treated. Hair growth is not synchronized so it may take up to six treatment sessions to complete the process. If an individual hair is effectively treated, the outcome is the same, and it doesn’t matter what light source was used to achieve that. So if you are seeing good results there is no reason to switch treatment modalities. Remember that all these devices are FDA-approved for “hair reduction” not removal.

Kenneth Dembny, II, MD
Milwaukee Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Lasers work better than IPL for hair removal

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While IPL can be used for hair removal, lasers are the gold standard.  Here in Orange County laser hair removal with GentleLase and LightSheer are the gold standards and tend to work the best.  IPL tends to be used by med spas and medical clinics which only have 1 or a few devices.  The reason being is that IPL, while it works great for brown and red discoloration, also works a little for hair removal and rejuvenation (but not as well as other devices), so it can be used as a "jack of all trades....master of none" device.  I prefer the Candela GentleLase for hair removal because of the cryogen (cold) spray it employs which protects the skin from damage and reduces pain.  Lightsheer works well also but hurts more.  We also have the GentleYag which is preferable for dark skin. 

If you are getting great results with IPL you don't necessarily have to change what you are doing, whether the results last as long however would be my concern.

Lorrie Klein, MD
Laguna Niguel Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 217 reviews

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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.