Removal of unwanted hair has been popular with both men and women for decades, but an affective method for permanent removal remained elusive until the advent of laser and light therapy. Many studies have been performed to determine what wavelength light therapy is superior in terms of response and permanence. Intense pulsed light, or IPL, has been found to be one of the most effective and safest treatments available.
Hair removal is accomplished with laser and light therapy by targeting the melanin in the hair follicle. The melanin absorbs heat and leads to irreversible cell damage to the supporting structures of the follicle and permanent cessation of hair growth from that follicle. The treatment is limited by the patient’s skin type. Darker skin contains more melanin outside the follicle area that will also absorb the energy from the light therapy. The intensity of the beam has to be adjusted to accommodate the skin type of the patient and the skin should be as untanned as possible. Very dark individuals should not be treated with IPL because the risk of burn is too high. Some of the longer wavelength lasers can be used to treat very dark individuals, but results are not as good. Your skin type and associated expectations will be discussed with you at the time of initial consultation.
Hair removal requires multiple treatments because only the follicles that are active will contain the concentration of melanin necessary for destruction. Dormant follicles will not be damaged and must be treated when they are active. The growth cycle of follicles varies depending on the growth site. Treatments are spaced 2-3 months apart to allow for this.
IPL hair removal is performed with a cool gel buffer and a Zimmer cooler to control discomfort. The time required for treatment will vary by treatment area size, but is typically less than 30 minutes.
There is no recovery time. The treated follicles will shed their hair over the next several days. Patients are asked to refrain from sun exposure for 14 days following treatment as the skin will be more sensitive to ultraviolet light. Topical applications can begin immediately.
Below are some before and after images of hair removal treatment.