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Intense Pulsed Light Permanent Hair Removal Treatment

The newest procedure on the epilation cosmetology market.

What is IPL?  It's a revolutionary advancement to conventional 'laser' cosmetology (which includes hair removal and more).  It is similar to laser epilation in many ways.  The radiation emission source however, is superior in cost, fluence (power) and IPL wavelenght chartefficiency. 

How does IPL work?  A very powerful flash tube delivers a photon emission 10-20 times greater than a typical epilation laser (in diameter at 220 jcm2/second). This light energy is carefully filtered with precision optics. 

Heat is removed from the energy with a KG1 Filter, then all wavelengths above 1200 and below 410 (ultra violet A, B and C rays) are removed with a MgF2 coated lens

Photons are then focused through Ruby, Sapphire or a BK7 Glass Condenser Lens (depending on requirements).  The end result is a safe, usable, high-density photon emission with performance equal to (or greater than) that of an ordinary laser.

Power Comparison

Standard laser epilators produce CW (constant wave) or pulsed output power around 20-80 Watts.  An IPL typically produces 300-800 Watts.  This allows for a intense pulsed light hand piecemuch larger emission diameter, which equates to far greater speed and efficiency for the technician.

One of the greatest benefits of the IPL over that of the laser is the difference in cost.  The typical 'price per watt' of a standard laser is  $100-$300, whereas the price per watt of an IPL is only $30-$70.

Average life expectancy of the flash tube is from 250,000 to over one million pulses (depending on model).  This equates to 1-3 years of reliable service, which is about the same as a Long Pulse Diode.  The flash tube is easily serviceable when it comes time for replacement and costs around $100-$300 (depending on unit).   

The Benefits of Pulsed Light over Laser

Larger areas can be treated at one time.  A typical man's back would require about 20-40 minutes with a QCW Diode Laser.  The IPL850-DX would do the same job in about 10 minutes.

IPL works on persons who are outside of the acceptable limit for the Fitzpatrick skin pigment grading scale.  A type 5 could be treated safely (with skin bleaching).

No hair is vaporized so there is much lower risk of pitting around the hair follicle itself (from intense heat).

IPL gives added benefits as a result of the hair removal treatment.  Improved tone, texture, and vitality of the skin is commonly noted.

Benefits of Laser over Pulsed Light

As fantastic as IPL is, it cannot be used for actual 'laser shaving'.  This is a procedure in which a laser is used to vaporize hair above the skin for immediate cosmetic improvement, but gradual (or progressive) permanency. 

The reason is very simple.  The IPL energy emission exit port (Ruby, Glass or Sapphire optic) is in direct contact with the skin during the treatment.  The reaction that occurs when the radiation strikes a hair is very intense heat.  It would cause pits and burns in the optic as well as potentially burn the patient's skin.  IPL must be used on shaved (or waxed) skin with a special laser treatment gel to protect the skin. 

How many treatments will your client need?

Like laser epilation, IPL is a progressively permanent procedure.  This means that improvement will be noted over a series of treatments.  Due to hair growth cycles and a variety of other factors, an investment of 5-10 treatments over 60-90 days is normal.

 laser epilation IPL progressively permanent procedure  IPL clinical test after picture

Discomfort and Client Reaction

Remarkably, the sensation felt with an IPL treatment is no more intense than that of a laser (although much more total energy is being delivered to the tissue).  The first three rapid pulses from the IPL generally are not felt by the client.  The fourth (if the technician chooses to deliver that many) begins to feel like a snap of a rubber band or a pinch (as the follicle tissue absorbs and converts the energy to heat).  Five or more rapid pulses in less than one second may be uncomfortable for some clients.  The use of a topical desensitizing spray or pre-treatment cold pack will alleviate most sensation. 

Client Pre-Qualifications

Like laser, the best candidate for IPL hair removal has fair skin with dark terminal hairs. Skin typing for exposure to ultraviolet light can be categorized by the Fitzpatrick classification, developed by Dr. Thomas Fitzpatrick of Harvard Medical School.

  • Skin Type I:  Never tans, always burns (extremely fair skin, blonde hair, blue/green eyes)

  • Skin Type II:  Occasionally tans, usually burns (fair skin, sandy to brown hair, green/brown eyes)

  • Skin Type III:  Often tans, sometimes burns (medium skin, brown hair, brown eyes)

  • Skin Type IV:  Always tan, never burns (olive skin, brown/black hair, dark brown/black eyes)

  • Skin Type V:  Never burns (dark brown skin, black hair, black eyes

  • Skin Type VI:  (black skin, black hair, black eyes)  

Types 1 through 4 are outstanding candidates. Type 5 will have excellent results as well but care must be taken to assure that the IPL will not burn the skin.

IPL Treatment: Deep Tissue Thermolysis With Follicle Extraction and Carbon Dye

The treatment protocol for IPL hair removal is remarkably similar to deep tissue (long pulse) laser epilation.  Before applying treatment, remove all hair from the area by tweezing or waxing. IPL hair removal is most effective when applied to an empty follicle shaft.  Most human hair does not normally have enough pigment to allow for sufficient heat exchange to cauterize, desiccate and necrotize the cells which produce hair. To compensate for this lack of quantitative and qualitative photon targets, it will be necessary to place a high-density carbon dye inside the follicle prior to treatment.

IPL Treatmentipl equipment packagesbikini line ipl treatmentbikini area ipl treatment procedurepreparing the bikini line for ipl treatment

Using a cotton-tipped applicator, completely cover the treatment area with the special dye included in your kit. Massage the dye into the follicle pore with a firm downward circular motion. Repeat 2-3 times to saturate the follicle pore. Use an ethyl alcohol based wipe (isopropyl alcohol will not dissolve the dye) to lightly clean the excess from the surface of the skin. At this point you will have all desired follicles visibly highlighted with a dark spot (as seen above) and are ready to power up your IPL for treatment.

Prepare the skin with IPL pre-treatment gel then place the IPL head on the desired area. Activate on pulse setting five (the unit will deliver five photon bursts when the trigger is pressed). Move the IPL and repeat. You should give no more than 5 pulses per area on the first treatment to determine the patient's reaction.

After the desired area has been completed, apply a cold pack. This will cool the dermis and soothe any uncomfortable neural activity. Apply the post-treatment gel and advise the patient not to pick or scratch the area. The dermis will show some trauma in the form of eurythmia (reddening) which may last 12-24 hours.

Schedule the patient for their next treatment in 10 to 14 days. By then some of the new anagen hairs will be surfacing. Hair growth activity will diminish substantially after each application.

Important Considerations for Safe Intense Pulsed Light Treatment

  • Treatment Around or Near the Eyes: Great care must be exercised when working near the eyes. The IPL emission is powerful enough to actually penetrate the eyelid and permanently damage the eye. Having the patient close their eyes is not satisfactory protection. The use of a dark-colored damp wash cloth which is folded over four times will deflect the harmful radiation; however, only IPL protective eyewear is recommended.

  • Treatment Around or Near Mucus Membranes: IPL radiation will severely damage the tissues inside the nose and ear canal. Treatment should be avoided in these areas altogether.

  • Treatment Around or Near the Genitals:  IPL hair removal is safe for application to the pubic regions including the reproductive organs of both sexes. Care must be taken into consideration in these areas due to the increased level of neural sensitivity. The patient may find the process uncomfortable without a topical desensitizing spray.

  • Treatment Around or Near the Areola (nipple):  IPL hair removal is safe and effective on hair growth which occurs from the areola of both sexes.

    Post-Treatment: The skin surrounding the treatment area will experience short-term erythmia (reddening) which will subside within 12-24 hours. Should the treatment area show signs of excess scabbing you may wish to reduce the overall treatment time or intensity. The application of a post-treatment cooling and healing gel (such as Aloe) is encouraged to speed healing and reduce sensitivity. Instruct the patient to refrain from applying cosmetics or sunbathing for at least 24 hours.

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