Diode Laser Hair Removal vs IPL: Which Laser Hair Removal Treatment is Right for You?
March 31st, 2023 @ 11:28 AM — by Dina Eliopoulos
Both men and women can have darker, coarser hair appear in unwanted places, impacting their level of comfort and confidence, especially when facing a more revealing summer or vacation wardrobe. While some may resort to at-home or spa waxing treatments to remove unwanted hair, professional laser hair removal offers a better, longer-lasting solution than shaving, depilatories, and waxing. However, not all lasers are created equal, so when you’re ready to address your unwanted hair concerns, you’ll want to research options such as Diode laser hair removal vs IPL (intense pulsed light) and which one is right for you.
How Laser Hair Removal Works
Short for ‘Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation,’ a laser device directs a narrow beam of light at a particular wavelength to be absorbed by the pigment (referred to as melanin) located in each hair follicle. The light vaporizes the pigment, which impedes hair growth.
The wavelength of a laser is particularly important, as shorter wavelengths can damage the natural melanin in medium to deep skin tones rather than the pigment found in hair follicles.
Professional Laser Hair Removal Benefits
In general, professional laser hair removal is a safe, effective, and convenient method of hair removal that offers long-lasting results with minimal discomfort when compared to other treatment options. Benefits include:
- Long-lasting results: While results will vary, most patients experience permanent hair reduction after several sessions. Laser hair removal targets hair follicles to reduce or eliminate hair growth, and with proper maintenance, the results can last for years.
- Precision: Lasers can selectively target dark, coarse hairs without damaging the surrounding skin. This precision is ideal for treating sensitive areas such as the face, bikini line, and underarms.
- Speed: Laser hair removal treats multiple hair follicles at once, making it a quick and efficient way to remove hair from larger areas like the legs or back.
- Less discomfort: Unlike waxing, laser hair removal is relatively painless, with most people describing the sensation as mild discomfort or a slight snapping sensation. It can also help reduce the occurrence of ingrown hairs.
- Convenience: With laser hair removal, there is no need to let your hair grow out between treatments, which is required with other methods such as waxing, and there is no downtime.
How Diode Laser Hair Removal Works
With an average wavelength of 810 nm, a Diode laser is only one of two that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for hair reduction on darker skin tones.
At the Center for Plastic Surgery, our LightSheer Diode laser hair removal efficiently targets the hair follicle while leaving skin of those with deeper skin tones unharmed (up to skin type V). The LightSheer device also includes High-Speed Vacuum-Assisted technology to quickly address sizable treatment areas and ChillTip™ technology to constantly numb and cool the skin during treatment.
It’s important to mention that, like any form of hair removal, Diode laser hair removal helps patients achieve permanent hair reduction. Hair follicles that were destroyed will not grow hair again; however, it is common for some hair to grow back in follicles that were not completely destroyed due to where you are in the hair growth cycle. That’s why, in general, we space out treatments 4-6 weeks to best target the hair at each stage of its growth cycle.
How IPL Hair Removal Works
IPL hair removal works differently than Diode laser hair removal, primarily because an IPL device is not a real laser. IPL is short for ‘Intense Pulsed Light.’ Where a traditional laser emits a distinct wavelength of light, an IPL device emits a broad spectrum of light with multiple wavelengths. The multiple wavelengths then target melanin in the follicle to impede hair growth. Because IPL hair removal uses a broad spectrum of light, it targets all melanin-rich structures in the skin, meaning that there is a risk that IPL hair removal can burn or scar individuals with a deeper skin tone.
IPL hair removal can be a suitable alternative for those with pale skin and dark hair that has begun to grow in unwanted places. Like Diode laser hair removal, hair eliminated with IPL treatment is only considered permanently reduced and can potentially grow back over time.
Which Hair Removal Treatment is Best?
There are several considerations when choosing Diode laser hair removal versus IPL hair removal, the first being skin type. The best way to understand your skin type is to refer to the Fitzpatrick scale, which classifies skin tone from 1 to 6, ranging from lightest to deepest. Then consider the following, which should be discussed with your laser hair removal provider prior to treatment:
Diode Laser Hair Removal:
- Diode laser is highly effective for long-term hair reduction of terminal hair growth in Fitzpatrick skin types III, IV and V.
- Increased absorption in the hair follicle across all hair types for more effective reduction with fewer treatments.
- Actively cools before, during, and after treatment to minimize patient discomfort.
IPL Hair Removal:
- Typically only suitable for lighter skin types of 1 to 3 on the Fitzpatrick scale.
- Less selective absorption in the follicle results in less effective destruction of the hair.
- Increased potential for unwanted side effects, such as burns or pigmentation.
- Often takes more treatment sessions to achieve the desired results compared to diode lasers.
- May offer benefits for patients with light-colored hair.
Why Choose an Expert for Diode Laser Hair Removal?
Trained and experienced laser hair removal professionals are the best points of consultation for treatment, as they are most mindful of treatment considerations, such as skin tone and hair color. These considerations will keep your skin’s safety top of mind for the best possible outcome.
If you are interested in an alternative to painful repetitive waxing, messy depilatories, and inconvenient shaving, then our laser hair removal treatment may be for you! The Center for Plastic Surgery in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, is committed to providing quality patient care while helping patients reach their aesthetic goals. Contact us today to set up a personal consultation.