The ever growing popularity of hair removal services in recent years has led to an equally rapid growth not only in the number of clinics offering such services but also in the types of technology used in removing the unwanted hair. There is now an often confusing array of treatments available to the public provided by a range of competing technologies, some more effective than others for different hair types and often at widely divergent prices.
Hair removal is one of the most frequently requested services at laser clinics and it is popular amongst patients across many demographics and regions of the world. In the USA alone statistics provided by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons indicate that a huge 60% of adults aged 18 to 29 are opting for laser hair removal. The Middle East is also experiencing a rapid and ongoing growth in demand for hair removal services of all types. But what types of hair removal are available and how effective are they? Dr Allen Rezai, founder and lead surgeon of Elite Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery Group, explains some of the differences between the two leading types of advanced hair removal technologies, laser and IPL.
“As a patient, trying to understand the differences between laser and IPL for hair removal and deciding which method is right for you can be very confusing due to a shortage of sound advice and understandable technical details,” says Dr Rezai.
Dr Rezai proceeds to explain that “IPL is an acronym for Intense Pulsed Light which is produced by light-emitting diodes. Since IPL produces light of varying wavelengths it is not the same as laser, the light of which is of a fixed wavelength. Although the process employs the same principles of heating as lasers to target tissue by the absorption of light into specific areas of the skin, because IPL devices lack the laser’s ability to produce a selective bandwidth, they can also heat up the surrounding tissue and blood vessels making them less effective in disabling hair especially on darker skin. Nor do they penetrate as deeply as lasers so, in the case of most regions of the body, the key structures of the hair are often not destroyed meaning that results are limited and often short-lived.
“IPL treatment obtains its best results in those with light skin and dark hair, but is significantly less effective for those with blonde, red or white hair,” says Dr Rezai. “Also because the IPL light is not so highly focused and its shorter beam unable to reach and destroy the roots of deeper hairs, a higher number of treatments are generally needed compared with laser treatment. Furthermore IPL can not be used on sun-exposed skin, with damage to pigment producing cells also a risk, which can result in patches of darker or lighter skin.”
Concerning laser hair removal Dr Rezai explains that “individual lasers employ light of a single wavelength, meaning that they can be very targeted. There are many different types of laser, each of differing wavelengths for specific purposes, but each one being chosen for optimum results and safety for particular hair and skin types. The two most frequently used lasers are the Alexandrite and Nd:YAG types. The Alexandrite laser produces the best results in those with light to olive skin, particularly those with very light skin. Alexandrite lasers can also be used on albino skin and skin with freckles, where many other hair removal systems are ineffective.”
According to Dr Rezai, advantages of the Alexandrite laser include quick treatment times, its effectiveness on a wide range of skin types and on thin hairs. It also has a good rate of tissue penetration and can easily cover large areas. However it is unsuitable for use on darker skin for which there is the Nd:YAG laser, effective on all skin types and efficiently used on larger expanses of skin such as the legs and the back. Nd:YAG treatment also results in a significantly longer delay in hair regrowth than with other hair removal systems.
Dr Rezai goes on to explain that “at Elite Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery Group we use both the Alexandrite and Nd:YAG lasers separately and in combination to enable us to treat the widest possible range of skin types, producing the optimum result for each patient whilst keeping discomfort and potential side-effects to a minimum. Yet further adding to patient comfort and safety, combined with the latest in Mixed Technology lasers, our clinic also employs a unique advanced skin cooling system which cools the skin before, during and after application of the laser without interfering with the laser beam. The result for the patient is an overall pain-free and safe experience, enabling the laser to work at higher efficiency and produce even better results.
“Looking at it from a purely commercial perspective, IPL systems are a much lower financial investment for clinics, with laser systems being significantly more expensive. This can of course be reflected in the price of the treatments,” explains Dr Rezai. “But it is important that when comparing the various clinics and their prices, patients should fully understand the differences between laser and IPL and that they compare like with like in the knowledge that the newest technologically advanced laser hair removal systems can far out-perform the results of IPL in terms of both quality of result and safety.”
Detailed information on cosmetic laser procedures can be obtained by visiting the Non-Surgical section on Elite Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery Group’s website at http://elitecosmeticsurgery.ae .
Those with an interest in Laser Hair Removal can find further details on their dedicated site in both English and Arabic at http://laserhairremoval.ae .
They can also be contacted directly through their clinic in Dubai at the following address:
Elite Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery Group FZ-LLC
Al Razi Building 64, Block C
4th Floor, Unit 4012
Oud Metha Road, P.O.Box 127610
Dubai Healthcare City