IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light. IPL is a safe and effective treatment for reducing unwanted hair, rejuvenating skin and for treating other conditions such as rosacea, broken thread veins and spider naevi. The IPL treatment is a type of light therapy that utilises a range of wavelengths to target the pigments in blood vessels and hairs. Hair growth is reduced by a series of treatments using controlled light impulses, this is known as photo depilation. Light is absorbed by the pigment of the hair (this is what gives the hair its colour) causing the hair follicle to heat up and be destroyed without any damage to the surrounding tissue. By removing the hair follicles hair growth is significantly reduced. Here at The London Dermatology CentreTM we use a state of the art, high energy IPL laser system. There are currently only 7 of these machines in the UK. We chose this particular system because of its range of treatment heads and filters that enables us to provide personalised treatments to almost any area of the body.
The IPL hair removal treatments removes the need for regular waxing and shaving that only remove the hair for the time of the follicular growth cycle and traumatise the skin. Ingrown hair follicles are a thing of the past and you do not have to put up with those stubbly areas anymore. We treat many hair colours and skin types and have a high percentage of clients that have extensive hair growth as a genetic element of their ethnicity i.e. Arabic, Asian and Greek. IPL is the treatment of choice for women and men who want to remove hair and feel released from the constant ties of waxing and shaving.
The IPL machine can treat most areas of the body in both women and men, including the face. If you are interested in hair removal in a particular area please let your aesthetic practitioner know and they will be able to advise you on the most appropriate method. The IPL treatment head is able to treat a larger area of skin per light pulse than other laser hair treatments resulting in faster and cheaper treatment.
The treatment head delivers a specific range of wavelengths to the treated area. The energy carried by the wavelengths of light penetrates just below the skin’s surface and gets absorbed by melanin in the hair follicle. Melanin is the brown pigment found in hairs, skin and the iris of the eye. Light is absorbed by this pigment in the hair follicle causing the hair follicle to heat up and be destroyed without any damage to the surrounding tissue. By removing the hair follicles hair growth is significantly reduced.
The number of treatments you will need depends on your skin type, your hair type and your desired results. The high energy levels of our laser reduces the number of treatments required to achieve hair reduction and also makes the process more cost effective when compared to extended treatments that are required by lower energy lasers. We recommend a series of 4 to 6 treatments to see a significant result. Each treatment should be carried out every 4 to 6 weeks. Each treatment lasts 10 to 20 minutes depending on the size of the area to be treated.
When carried out by a trained professional the IPL treatment is very safe. As with all procedures there is a small risk of side effects but these are rare. Side effects can include slight redness and swelling of the treated area, blistering or bruising and hyper or hypopigmentation. Any redness or swelling from the IPL treatment generally disappears within a few hours of treatment, and the remaining side effects are very rare. The London Dermatology Centre's dermatologists and aesthetic physicians will carry out a full assessment and patch test before any treatment takes place to alleviate these risks.
On the day of your procedure your aesthetic practitioner will go through everything with you and answer any questions you may have. Then, you’ll lie back and relax on one of our treatment beds while the practitioner applies a cooling gel to the area to be treated. You’ll be asked to wear some goggles to protect your eyes from the light of the IPL machine and then your treatment will begin. The aesthetic practitioner will pass the treatment head over the treatment area. You may feel some slight discomfort during the procedure which is often described as a pinging sensation.
During the procedure you may experience a very slight pinging sensation as the IPL treatment head is passed over your skin. The sensation experienced by patients has been described as feeling like an elastic band being flicked on to the skin. Prior to your treatment you will do a patch test with one of our aesthetic practitioners. This is to ensure that you do not experience any adverse reaction and to check that your skin type is suitable for the IPL treatment. You will also be able to experience what the IPL treatment feels like. The IPL treatment is not painful and does not require any local anaesthetic to be applied prior to the treatment.
For the best results we advise you observe the following recommendations. Please ensure that the treated area is well moisturized with frequent applications of a non-perfumed topical moisturiser, ideally containing an SPF of 25 or greater. Do not irritate the treated area with harsh chemicals such as acne medications or face scrubs for 1 to 2 days after your treatment. Makeup may be applied immediately after treatment. Wash the treated area gently with a mild soap and water. If the treated area is red or irritated, the area should not be rubbed with a face cloth or towel but lightly patted dry.
We recommend that you minimise your sun exposure to prevent further damage and that you avoid tanning beds throughout the course of treatment. A sunscreen with an SPF of 25 or greater should be applied whenever the area is exposed to the sun. If you develop a tan within the proposed treated area, delay further treatments for 2 weeks or until the tan has significantly faded. Avoid excessive heat or friction to the treated area e.g. heavy exercise, saunas. Provided that there is no persistent redness, blistering, or crusting present in the treatment area you may resume all normal activities.
For more information regarding the IPL hair reduction treatment please contact us on 020 7467 3720.
Written By: Dr Sunil Chopra and Rebecca Perris