What Is IPL Hair Removal?

Beauty, Home & Family
on October 6, 2011

IPL hair removal is an exciting new way to rid yourself of unwanted hair. It's safe, effective and the results are likely permanent. Read on to find out if IPL hair removal is right for you.

What is IPL? IPL stands for intense pulsed light. During the procedure, a bright laser or other similar form of light is used in a controlled fashion on the area of skin you wish to remove hair. The light is so intense that it heats up the hair follicle, damaging and even destroying its ability to grow new hair. According to the Mayo Clinic, IPL hair removal is best suited for people with light skin and dark hair.

Who shouldn't try it? If you have any of the following conditions, you're probably not a good candidate for IPL:

  • Hyperpigmentation — IPL has caused hyperpigmentation, areas of discolored skin, in some people. If you have a tendency toward this skin reaction, have strongly pigmented skin already or have been in the sun near to treatment time, you might not be a good candidate for intense pulsed light treatments.
  • Hypopigmentation — If you have scarring or white spots on the skin due to lack of melanin (the substance that gives skin its color), IPL might not be for you.
  • Keloid or scarring predisposition — If you tend to scar easily or develop keloid (raised and puffy) scars, you should avoid IPL, which has been associated with scarring, especially in people who have had keloid and scarring in the past. Since IPL is a controlled skin trauma, the damage may lead to adverse skin reactions in people so disposed.
  • Diabetes — This condition affects the body’s immune response. Since wound recovery is affected by diabetes, it is a good idea to check with your doctor before considering IPL if you have diabetes. Most likely, you will be advised against the treatment, as resulting wound healing is uncertain with diabetes and good results cannot be guaranteed.
  • Pregnancy — If you are pregnant, are trying to conceive or even think you may be pregnant, do not have IPL for hair removal. There is no direct effect on the developing baby but IPL causes a healing response in the skin. The hormones associated with pregnancy may interfere with the typical healing expected with IPL hair removal.

Preparing for IPL is easy. Before any procedure, you should consult your physician, who will examine you for readiness and verify that the area of skin you will be treating is OK for the procedure. You must have a patch test performed to be certain of your body’s natural response and tolerance to the therapy. After the patch test, you will be sent home to monitor the skin and report on any unusual skin changes, such as rashes, blistering or hyper- and hypopigmentation. If all goes well, a plan for IPL hair removal will be created. It may take more than one treatment to completely stop hair growth. Cost of each session ranges from $200 to $500, depending upon market area and individual needs.

Aftercare. Following IPL hair removal, you will be advised to avoid sun exposure, as the skin is especially sensitive at this time. Also, some medications will need to be avoided, as they may alter the healing response or cause excessive bleeding.