Thanks for your question on IPL and hair removal.
IPL stands for Intense Pulse Light. It is considered a good method
for hair removal in the hands of a physician or a trained technician.
Some states require that it be done under the supervision of a
For hair removal, the technician places a wand holding a flashing
lamp on the surface of the skin. The lamp focuses lights of different
wave lengths on the treatment area. The light is intense and travels
through the skin to the bulb (root) of the hair, destroying it so
that, temporarily, it will not grow. The hair resumes growth after
about 6 months.
The side effects of IPL range from a reddening of the skin, similar to
a sun burn, to mild swelling, mild blistering and/or crust formation
on the surface of the skin. These effects can be soothed with a mild
skin cream or a medium-strength steroid cream. They last, at most, for
about a week.
Sometimes, however, the treated skin loses pigmentation
(hypopigmentation) becoming lighter; or the treated skin gets darker
in the same area (hyperpigmentation). These effects last from 8-12
weeks (hyperpigmentation) to a few months (hypopigmentation). These
pigment changes are rarely permanent. However, to help avoid such
problems, the patient is advised to avoid sun exposure and to use sun
screen for two to three weeks after treatment.
Cases have been reported where the hair of the person undergoing
treatment turns white. The hair pigment goes back to normal when
treatment is stopped. The whitening process is thought to be the
damage to melanocytes (pigment cells) in the base of the hair root.
It is not enough to destroy the hair, but enough to cause it to lose
IPL is considered safe and effective. Most of the side effects are
harmless and temporary. Patient satisfaction is high. In one study
67 per cent of patients reported no complications, and 60 percent said
their satisfaction with the procedure was good to excellent.
For the most effective hair removal treatment, doctors recommend that
patients do not pluck, wax or have electrolysis for one month before
the treatment. However, just before treatment, the area to be treated
should be shaved.
As far as the use of IPL for pigmentation, it has been used
effectively for "photorejuvenation," which is the improvement of
sun-damaged or aging skin. It removes fine wrinkles and redness. It
removes highly pigmented spots as found in aging skin, and is thus
said to restore pigmentation to give a youthful appearance. The side
effects and cautions are similar to those cited above for hair
Here is a list of the web sites I used in this answer:
Intense Pulsed Light
Office-Based Cosmetic Procedures
Hair Removal Using Intense Pulsed Light (EpiLight): Patient
Satisfaction, Our Experience, and Literature Review.
Temporary Hair Color Change from Black to Blond after Intense Pulsed
Light Hair Removal Therapy
(Scroll to second article on page)
Intense Pulsed Light Treatments
Full-face photorejuvenation of photodamaged skin by intense pulsed
light with integrated contact cooling: initial experiences in Asian
IPL hair removal site:.gov
IPL hair removal site:.edu
IPL pigmentation site:.gov
IPL pigmentation site:.edu
I wish you well with you IPL treatments.