Updated: Aug 11
the short answer is, not a lot.
here's what both laser hair removal and ipl (intense pulsed light) hair removal have in common:
both are a mechanism of hair reduction/removal: both laser hair removal and IPL hair removal target the melanin (pigment) in the hair follicles to disrupt their growth. The light energy is absorbed by the melanin, which heats up and damages the follicle, inhibiting or delaying hair regrowth.
both can have long-lasting (even permanent) results: both methods offer long-lasting or even permanent hair reduction/removal over time. With multiple sessions (we work in packages of 10 for new clients and then singles if clients need a few more or maintenance in the future), many people experience a degree of hair-free that makes them happy.
both require multiple treatment sessions: both laser and IPL hair removal require a series of treatment sessions to achieve optimal results. all clients who do hair removal at lift laser and beauty start with a package of 10 sessions. laser hair removal generally takes 1-3 fewer sessions to achieve the same result as IPL hair removal. however, ipl hair removal (for our most popular package at lift laser and beauty, the full body: underarms, brazilian, full legs) takes about 45 pain-free minutes to treat all the areas. laser hair removal would be a couple of hours per session and would hurt the entire time. so laser is less time on the calendar but more time on the clock.
both have the same preparation and aftercare: for each method avoiding sun exposure and shaving the treatment area before the session are the same.
both have the same limitations: neither laser nor ipl will be effictive on very fine, very light or red hair. the hair must be darker than the skin to a certain degree and have enough breadth for the light to find the hair.
both generally require maintenance sessions: after the initial series of treatments, periodic maintenance sessions may be needed to target any remaining hair growth. lucky for you, lift laser and beauty generally holds a very impressive maintenance package promo each spring.
okay cool, but back to the original question, what are the differences between laser hair removal and ipl hair removal? again, not much.
different light sources: Laser hair removal uses a focused, single-wavelength laser light, while IPL hair removal uses a broad spectrum of light with multiple wavelengths.
number of sessions: laser hair removal can generally reach desired efficacy in fewer sessions (1-3) than ipl hair removal. sessions for both though are typically about 4 weeks apart.
length of time per session: ipl hair removal, in particular using the venus versa platform with automatic flash, is quick. our full body package sessions which includes full legs, underarms and brazilian/bikini - only takes about 45 minutes. the same surface area with laser hair removal would be a couple of hours.
level of discomfort or pain: laser hair removal hurts. it feels like an elastic band being snapped on your skin with every flash of light. ipl with the venus versa doesn't hurt at all (there's a cooling crystal on the handpiece that cools both the light and the skin.
if you want to be done the process in fewer month and are okay with each flash of light hurting for treatment sessions that last a couple of hours, laser hair removal may be your best choice.
if you're okay to take 1-3 more months to get your results and don't want any pain during your quick treatments, ipl may be your best choice.
i feel like you may have some more questions. i've taken the liberty of writing some answers.
lift laser and beauty is a boutique medical aesthetics space located in the heart of downtown chilliwack. we offer a variety of services for your skin's health and appearance. welcoming you, where you're at on your skin care and aging journey in an open, honest, casual space is our signature.