IPL vs Laser for Skin
There are basically two types of laser light therapy used to treat hyperpigmentation and skin rejuvenation. IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) and lasers.
Intense Pulsed Light
A technology whereby light is converted into heat energy. Commonly known as IPL treatment.
It is like a very powerful camera flash lamp being held gently onto your skin surface. The wavelength of the intense light is between 535nm – 1200nm. It targets chromophores (skin colour pigments or melanin) in brown spots and freckles. It also targets specific protein molecules in acne bacteria and collagen.
With that ability, your skin can be acne free and has an youthful appearance!
Most common laser treatment are the carbon resurfacing laser treatment. This treatment penetrates deeper into the skin, removing multiple layers as opposed to just surface layers of epidermis. The recovery period is likely to be longer than with standard laser treatment, lasting up to three weeks or longer and often accompanied by redness that could last for months. However, ideal for skin imperfections such as age spots, oil cysts and even “raised” pigmented spots.
Both IPL and laser use the same principle to remove unwanted pigment or to renew collagen; however, IPL emits multiple wavelengths of light, while lasers emit light of a single wavelength. There are pros and cons to each, based on the type of hyperpigmentation you’ve got, where it is, and how long you’ve had it. Laser treatment is usually most effective in treating discrete lesions and thickened age spots. IPL may be a better choice if the discoloration is over a wider area and there is no downtime compared to invasive laser. Scabbing is typically more prominent after laser treatment as compared with IPL, but more IPL treatment sessions may be necessary in the long run. Laser treatments can actually cause pigmentation problems, especially in olive, light brown, or dark skin. Indians and Malay candidates are not ideal for such light therapy treatment unless their skin colour is within the light range of the Fitzpatrick Skin Chart.
Depending on the type of discoloration you’re dealing with, you may need one treatment or several treatments from laser or IPL.
For example, age spots typically respond very quickly with laser carbon resurfacing, but birthmarks often require repeated zapping with Intense pulse light.
However, IPL is a modified and most acceptable treatment for pigmentations and anti-ageing for men.
And with the modern IPL system , it can be selected to a different rating to provide permanent hair reduction to eliminate shaving chores.
Men…don’t you just love IPL?
Illustrated & compiled by Esther Cheang & Adam Chua , Face of Man. 12 Nov 2013