Intense pulsed light or IPL employs the use of high-intensity light produced by a flash lamp. Unlike lasers which are monochromatic, IPLs are polychromatic and their wavelength varies between 500 nm and 1200 nm. With the aid of filters, the lower part of the spectrum is filtered out resulting in red and infrared light that penetrates deep into the skin. It is also highly absorbed by melanin which is present in hair and skin. The absorption of light by melanin leads to an increase in temperature. The increase over a certain limit can lead to thermal destruction of hair and dermal base cells, which are the cells responsible for producing hair – thus, IPL hair removal.
Under normal circumstances, not all hair follicles are active at the same time. Furthermore, it is only the active hair follicles that are affected by IPL. The treatment does not lead to the permanent removal of hair. However, it offers a permanent reduction in the total number of existing hair. IPLs are not very effective on white or very light blonde hair due to a lack of sufficient melanin.
Care must be taken when treating very dark, black skin. Black skin absorbs light very readily leading to a rapid increase in skin temperature. Extra skin cooling and lower energy settings are essential for such treatments.
Depending on the treatment area the treatment period may vary from six to twelve sessions. At the end of this period where there are only a few odd hairs left one may switch to laser hair removal. Each laser shot covers a much smaller area than an IPL shot, and hence is more suitable for sporadic hair. Using lasers at a later stage has also the advantage that the skin is subjected to less radiation emitted by the laser. There should be an interval of between four and six weeks between treatments.
IPL machines can be employed in the treatment of most skin types on the body or face for both men and women. It is more useful than laser hair treatment because it covers a wider area making it a faster and more affordable option. For most people, IPL works well resulting in a total reduction of unwanted hair in the area that is targeted.
As far as the procedure is concerned, the process is simple and straightforward. All you need to do is to lie on a couch and get comfortable. However, it is essential that eye protection is worn by the patient and the therapist in order to prevent the beams from entering the eye and causing irreparable damage. In the first treatment session, the therapist starts the operation with a minimum energy setting suitable for the patient. The energy is then gradually increased and at the point of smelling burnt hair, the energy is fixed for the duration of the treatment. Patients usually feel a warming sensation and / or a mild burning sensation during the treatment. The treated area usually looks slightly red and will revert to normal after a few hours.
In order to be completely safe, it is best to use a high-power IPL machine with multiple filter settings and extra cooling at the tip of the handpiece – such as the Nu eLite. The Nu eLite is, as the name suggests, an elite high-end IPL machine that comes with settings suitable for every skin type and colour, while also providing extra benefits, such as acne and broken capillary elimination.
IPL treatment has proved to be a success in medical and cosmetic practice with more and more people opting for it because of the efficiency and affordability involved. Visit our blog or check out our laser machines and other products for insider knowledge and industry tips.