Dermatology of Philadelphia is excited to now offer cutting-edge treatment options for laser hair removal. IPL hair removal uses an intense pulse light to target the cells that create hair without damaging the surrounding skin or tissue.
In this article we break down the details on what IPL hair removal is, treatment protocols and steps to take to get the best results.
What is Intense Pulse Light (IPL) for Laser Hair Removal?
IPL effectively treats multiple skin conditions by emitting varying wavelengths of light onto and into the skin. Hair removal is one of the most common uses for IPL.
How does IPL / laser hair removal work?
Laser and intense pulse light is absorbed by the pigment in the hair shaft and hair bulb. This strategically targets and damages the cells that grow hair without damaging the surrounding skin or tissue. The damaged hair follicles produce lighter, thinner, or no hairs all.
How well does IPL work for hair removal?
IPL hair removal is designed to cause 60-95% less hair by destroying the hair follicle. Hair removal only works on hairs in the anagen, or growing, phase of hair growth. At any one point in time, only about 20-25% of hair follicles are in this phase. This is why multiple treatments are needed to achieve lasting reduction in hair.
How many treatments are needed and how often?
For best results, multiple sessions are needed to reduce hair. With each session we hope for a 15-20% reduction in hair. For lighter skin types, 4-6 hair removal sessions are usually needed to achieve desired results. For darker skin types, 6-10 treatments may be needed. For areas on the neck and above, you can have hair removal sessions every 4-6 weeks. Below the neck, you can have hair removal sessions every 8-12 weeks.
What should you avoid before a hair removal session?
Because we need an active target for the treatment, avoid waxing, plucking, or electrolysis for 4-6 weeks before hair removal. Shaving can be used to manage hair between hair removal sessions. You should avoid active tanning for 4-6 weeks prior to hair removal and avoid the use of self-tanning products for 14 days before hair removal sessions.
Who should not get IPL treatments?
- Patients who have been on accutane in the last 6 months
- Pregnant or breastfeeding patients
- Patients with permanent makeup or tattoos in the area to be treated
- Tan patients (tans must be at least 4-6 weeks old before having an IPL treatment)
- Patients who have used self-tanners in the last 14 days.
- Patients who have lupus, vitiligo, epilepsy, or scleroderma may have flares with IPL
Is IPL hair removal safe if you have a history of cold sores?
An antiviral medication can be taken 1 day before the treatment, the day of the treatment, and 3 more days after treatment.
What to do before your IPL Hair Removal appointment
To best prepare for your IPL hair removal appointment, we recommend following the below steps.
- Do not pluck, wax, use a depilatory, thread, or undergo electrolysis in the treatment area for 4-6 weeks prior to hair removal
- Do shave the area 24 hours before treatment.
- Avoid deodorants, face/body moisturizers in the treatment areas.
- Do not tan the areas to be treated for 4-6 weeks prior to treatment.
- Avoid using self-tanning products for 2 weeks prior to treatment.
What to expect after your IPL appointment
There are certain steps we recommend you take to lower the chances of side effects after your treatment, and to maximize results.
- Some redness and swelling in the area are considered normal after treatment and may feel similar to a sunburn. This should resolve within 1-3 hours after treatment. You may use aloe vera or cold compresses if needed.
- Selling around the hair follicles is normal.
- Do not soak in hot tubs or have a hot bath for 24 hours.
- Do not work out to point of perspiration as extreme itchiness or blisters may develop
- Avoid deodorant for 24 hours if underarms were treated.
- Avoid irritants (glycolics, retinoids etc.) for seven days after treatment.
- Apply sunscreen for 6 weeks over the treated area.
- If a blister or open area occurs apply a topical antibiotic ointment.
Schedule your IPL hair removal appointment
We offer a number of cosmetic dermatology services, including laser hair removal. Call our office today at 215-315-3197 to schedule your consultation for IPL hair removal.