IPL stands for ‘intense pulsed light’ and has some branded variations such as SIPL, VPL, SPL which are all essentially the same technology. IPL machines are not lasers. IPL devices are generally cheaper than laser devices, which is why many clinics choose to use them. These machines produce a wide bandwidth of traditional light that can heat up all of the surrounding tissue. IPL lacks laser’s ability to produce a selective bandwidth of light that will only affect the hair shaft making it less effective in disabling hair and putting the skin at a higher risk for side effects.
IPL generally requires more treatments (sometimes double or triple the treatments) or may only reduce the thickness and darkness of the hair, rather than eliminate it completely. Generally, true hair removal lasers (i.e. Alexandrite, Diode, and ND: Yag types) tend to achieve superior results for unwanted hair treatment.
How does the diode laser compare to other lasers, such as the Alexandrite (eg. GentleLase, Epogen), ND: Yag (eg. Fotona), and Ruby (eg. Sinon) lasers?
The primary principle behind all laser hair removal is selective photothermolysis, the matching of a specific wavelength of light and pulse duration to obtain an optimal effect on a targeted tissue (hair) with minimal effect on surrounding tissue (skin). Several wavelengths of laser energy have been used for hair removal. These lasers are characterized by their wavelength, measured in nanometers (nm). Some lasers are more effective for treating hair, or for treating particular skin colors, and some lasers penetrate deeper than others.
Diode’s 810nm is widely accepted as the “Gold Standard” wavelength in laser hair removal, due to its optimal melanin absorption and its increased penetration deep into the dermis where the hair follicle is located. Compared to other lasers where the laser light may be concentrated at the surface of the skin (many charred hairs may be noted with these treatments), diode treats deeper and is more effective where we want the light/heat to create damage – the hair bulb.