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IPL vs Laser Hair Removal

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Dr. Hardik Soni

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Learn Which is Better For You

At Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness, laser and IPL hair removal are two of our most popular services for achieving smooth, hair-free skin. 

But what exactly is the difference between these technologies, and which one is right for your specific hair removal needs?

As a board certified dermatologist and expert in laser treatments, Dr. Soni will take a deep look at how laser and IPL work, key differences between the technologies, and provide guidance on deciding which solution is best for you.

How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?

arm laser hair removal

Laser hair removal utilizes highly concentrated beams of laser light to target and destroy hair follicles. The laser emits a beam at a specific wavelength that is attracted to the melanin pigment in hair follicles. This creates heat energy which damages the follicles to inhibit future hair growth.

Laser hair removal devices use laser light within specific wavelength ranges optimal for targeting hair and skin pigment. For example, the ND:YAG laser with a 1064 nm wavelength is frequently used because it can penetrate deeper into the skin to reach thick, coarse hairs.

Treatments are typically scheduled 4-6 weeks apart. Most patients require 6-8 sessions for optimal long-term hair reduction. With each successive treatment, fewer and fewer hairs regrow as more follicles become damaged.

How Does IPL Hair Removal Work?

IPL stands for intense pulsed light. Like lasers, IPL devices produce light energy to heat and destroy hair follicles. However, there are some key differences:

  • Broader spectrum light: IPL emits a broad range of visible light wavelengths, while lasers produce light of a single wavelength. This wide spectrum enables IPL to target multiple structures in the skin.
  • Less intensity: The light energy from IPL is less concentrated compared to laser. This makes IPL better suited for smaller or fine hair removal.
  • Larger treatment areas: IPL can safely treat larger areas of the body in one session. The broad spectrum light can penetrate deeper layers of skin with less chance of burning.

As with laser, a series of IPL treatments 4-6 weeks apart is required for best results. Most patients need 6-8 sessions to achieve up to 90% long-term hair reduction.

Can IPL remove hair permanently?

IPL provides permanent hair reduction like laser, but not complete permanent removal. Most patients require maintenance sessions periodically after completing an initial treatment package.

Does IPL work on white and blonde hair?

Yes, IPL can effectively treat fine white and blonde hairs. The broad spectrum light targets melanin as well as blood vessels that nourish hair follicles.

Can IPL remove facial hair?

Yes, IPL is safe for removing facial hair, especially around the delicate lip and brow areas. It carries lower risk of burning compared to laser hair removal.

Will IPL help reduce the appearance of acne scars?

Yes, IPL treatments can reduce the look of acne scarring. The light energy works to resurface the skin while promoting collagen production.

Key Differences Between Laser and IPL Hair Removal

Dr. Soni evaluates many factors when determining if laser or IPL is better suited for a patient’s hair removal goals:

  • Hair color – Lasers are typically better for treating darker hairs. Blonde, red, white, or gray hairs have very little melanin pigment and are more difficult to treat with laser. IPL can work better for lighter hair colors.
  • Skin tone – Lasers can be adjusted to settings specific to a patient’s skin tone based on their Fitzpatrick skin type. IPL is not adjustable so there is higher risk of skin burns, especially in darker complexions.
  • Hair texture – Laser is preferable for removing thicker, coarser hair on areas like the bikini line, legs, and back. IPL works best on thinner hair.
  • Treatment areas – IPL can treat larger areas of the body at once. Laser works best for small, concentrated treatment areas.
  • Sensitive areas – IPL is gentler and poses less risk of burning around sensitive regions like the face and neck compared to laser.
  • Vascular lesions – IPL is effective at removing benign pigmented lesions, cherry angiomas, and visible capillaries along with hair removal.
  • Cost – IPL devices tend to be less expensive to purchase than medical-grade lasers. However, results may require more treatments so cost per session is comparable.

Am I a Good Candidate for Laser or IPL Hair Removal?

The experts at Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness offer complimentary consultations to determine if you are a good candidate for laser or IPL hair removal. Ideal candidates have:

  • Unwanted dark, coarse hair in the treatment area
  • Light skin that tans rather than burns
  • No history of keloid scarring
  • No active infections or rashes in treatment areas
  • Realistic expectations about the number of treatments needed

Skin type, hair color, sensitivity, and pain tolerance are evaluated during the consultation. Our staff then recommends the best hair removal technology tailored to your cosmetic goals and tolerance.

What Are Treatments Like?

Laser and IPL sessions are quick, taking just 10-30 minutes depending on the size of the treated area. No anesthesia is required, but cooling gel and devices help make treatments more comfortable. Patients describe the sensation as a brief pinching or rubber band snapping feeling as the light is pulsed onto the skin. Any discomfort resolves immediately once the pulse is complete.

Redness and swelling around the treated area are temporary side effects that resolve within a few hours after the procedure. Over-the-counter pain relievers can provide relief if needed. Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness also offers free post-treatment ice packs to patients.

Dr. Soni stresses the importance of avoiding sun exposure and tanning beds for at least 2 weeks before and after sessions. Otherwise, treatments can be safely performed year-round.

How Much Does Laser Hair Removal Cost?

The cost of laser and IPL hair removal depends on the size of the treated area and number of sessions needed. At Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness, hair removal packages are customized during your consultation for the most affordable care.

Contact Us Today to Learn Our Pricing for Laser Hair Removal

Schedule Your Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness Consultation

laser hair removal equipment

If you’re ready to say goodbye to unwanted body hair, contact Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness today to schedule your laser or IPL consultation. We’ll help you decide which advanced hair removal solution can reveal your softest, smoothest skin ever.

FAQ About IPL vs Laser Hair Removal

What is the main difference between IPL and laser hair removal?

The main difference is that IPL uses a broad spectrum of light wavelengths while lasers use a single, concentrated wavelength. This makes lasers more effective at targeting dark, coarse hairs.

Is IPL or laser hair removal better for sensitive skin?

IPL is generally safer and less likely to burn sensitive skin, especially darker skin tones, because it delivers less concentrated energy.

Does IPL work as well as laser hair removal?

IPL can effectively remove hair, but typically requires more treatments than laser. Lasers work best for coarse, dark hair while IPL works better for fine, light colored hair.

How long do IPL hair removal results last?

With a series of 6-8 treatments, IPL can provide approximately 80% long-term hair reduction. Repeat maintenance is needed, but is less frequent than initial treatments.

Does getting an IPL treatment hurt?

Most patients tolerate IPL treatments well. A slight stinging or snapping sensation may be felt with each light pulse. Any discomfort resolves immediately once the pulse is complete.

Dr. Hardik Soni

MD, Founder/Lead Physician

About Dr. Hardik Soni

Dr. Hardik Soni is the founder and Medical Director of Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness. His primary focus is on minimally invasive and non-invasive cosmetic procedures including botulinum injection (Botox and Dysport), dermal fillers (Juvederm, Restylane, Radiesse), laser hair removal, chemical peels, and laser skin rejuvenation. Dr. Soni believes in a more conservative approach and his first goal is education. Clients are able to determine the ideal treatments after discussion with Dr. Soni regarding the expected outcomes, cost, as well as risks.

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