Symptoms Directly After IPL Treatment Was Very Different at New Salon, Could This Mean it Wasn't as Effective?

hello,I have hair removal laser treatment on my body & during the session I can smell the burn of hairs & right after a session I have red bumps which dissapear after a few min.,the hair on the root leaving a black spot as it has been burnt and the treatment works. Yesterday I used a different salon for IPL on legs and althought I could feel the tingling disconfort during the session, there were none of the 3 symptoms as above that I have with the laser and I wondered if it was a bad sign?

Doctor Answers 5

IPL for hair removal

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The new salon was being careful to see what settings are appropriate for you.  This is a much better idea than burning you.  Next time, they will probably increase the power.  We do want to smell some burning and see the tiny red bumps to know you are having an effective treatment.

Toronto Dermatologist

Signs that IPL hair removal is working

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What we look for when either laser or IPL hair removal is performed is exactly what you describe: 

  • What is called "the smell of success."  You want to smell some hairs burning.
  • Slight redness in the area treated
  • Perifollicular edema - small raised bumps surrounding hair follicles in the area treated

If you switched to a new machine, it's conservative and correct to use lower settings for the first treatment, as the first treatment is 1/2 therapeutic and 1/2 diagnostic.  We want to know how your skin responds to the machine and to the treatment itself. 

See how the hairs behave in about three weeks.  By that time the treated hairs will have worked themselves out of the hair follicles.  If nothing happens, mention that to your treating physician.  The setting should increase with subsequent treatments as your skin can tolerate it. 

Emily Altman, MD
Short Hills Dermatologic Surgeon

It is hard to tell what was done at the Salon.

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If the hair is still present and none of it was singed off during the treatment and there is no follicular edema or erythema (red or swelling) around the hair follicles, your treatment may not have been effective.  Be certain that you are going to someone with a lot of experience and the best technology.  Some little Ma and Pop medispas don't know what they are doing. 

Mark Taylor, MD
Salt Lake City Dermatologic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

IPL for hair removal

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It sounds like they used a laser the first time and an IPL the second time.  While IPL does work for hair removal, there are practitioners who feel that laser treatment is more effective for hair removal than IPL.  Newer IPLs with optimal settings and a high enough fluence (energy density) should work well for hair removal.  There are many different IPLs out there and some are more effective than others.  It is possible that the energy used was too low to give you a good treatment response.

IPL Treatment at New Salon

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It sounds as if you had an IPL treatment as opposed to a true laser hair removal treatment.  These are two different types of treatments each using a different laser.  The first treatment you described does sound like true laser hair removal with all the correct treatment effects.  The second does not.

Sheri G. Feldman, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologist

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.