What is the difference between IPL and Laser?

Written by on September 10, 2005 in IPL, laser therapy with 12 Comments

A recent post to rosacea-support contains some good background and discussion about the difference between IPL and laser. Some extracts ;

IPL is Intense Pulsed Light, also called Photoderm, Fotoderm, and Photofacial. You can find someone who does it at a Laser & Vein Center.Photoderm is a computer-based machine which uses bright light similar to a camera’s flashbulb. The light works much like a laser, but instead of having just one wavelength of light, Photoderm produces a spectrum of light.

Lasers emit a particular wavelength of light that determines the specific target. With rosacea, the wavelength should be partial to absorption by red blood cells. The particular filter used (550nm, 570nm, 590nm, 615nm, etc.) cuts off wavelengths of light below that number. For example, with a 570nm filter, wavelengths less than 570nm do not reach the skin. Different lasers treat at different depths.

IPL WITH RF (radio frequency) is apparently not as good as straight IPL. The RF is made to help treat sun damaged skin, but it interferes with the IPL focusing in on the blood vessel. It is more for photo rejuvenation of sun damaged and mature skin,not rosacea.

V BEAM is different from Intense Pulsed Light. V BEAM is a laser. V BEAM has an ultra long pulse and is a good choice for treatment of broken and visible facial blood vessels. Different lasers treat at different depths: V BEAM doesn’t go as deep as IPL does, but it works well on the superficial vessels. Apparently the V-beam still causes about 7 to 10 days of downtime.

LUMENIS ONE is one of the most recent advancements in IPL/Photoderm. It is quite superior as far as its ability to deliver lower energy with more efficiency. It uses a new technology called OPT (optical pulse technology) that delivers “squared off” pulses, resulting in more even distribution of energy with each pulse.

Also some related comments from Difference between Laser and IPL Technologies explained that might be helpful.

Lasers are single wavelength devices with absorption coefficients relatively specific to the chromophores they are intended to target. Intense Pulsed-light (IPL) devices expose the patient to a broader spectrum of light energy defined by cut-off filters, typically in the range of 600-1200 nm. The fact that lasers and IPL devices may target multiple chromophores allow these products to be marketed as being capable of treating a variety of conditions in addition to hair removal, including treatment of vascular and pigmented lesions, warts, wrinkles, and even acne.

Because lasers use single wavelengths of energy, the side-effect profile and dependability of response are superior to IPL devices. This differing performance level is a function of IPL design–IPL subjects the skin to a wider range of light energies of varying absorption coefficients for the chromophores targeted for cosmetic laser procedures.

Lasers are single wavelength devices with absorption coefficients relatively specific to the chromophores they are intended to target. Intense Pulsed-light (IPL) devices expose the patient to a broader spectrum of light energy defined by cut-off filters, typically in the range of 600-1200 nm. The fact that lasers and IPL devices may target multiple chromophores allow these products to be marketed as being capable of treating a variety of conditions in addition to hair removal, including treatment of vascular and pigmented lesions, warts, wrinkles, and even acne.

Because lasers use single wavelengths of energy, the side-effect profile and dependability of response are superior to IPL devices. This differing performance level is a function of IPL design–IPL subjects the skin to a wider range of light energies of varying absorption coefficients for the chromophores targeted for cosmetic laser procedures.

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Read more about: IPL, laser therapy

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About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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12 Reader Comments

  1. Jessica says:

    What is better for permanent body hair removal laser or IPL?

  2. David Pascoe says:

    Hi Jessica,

    It depends on the settings used. IPL/VPL can be targetted to destroy hair follicles as well as target blood vessels (as in rosacea). There are many different types of laser, and in general they will also be able to be use to target hair removal. So I don’t think there is a simple answer to which one is better.

    davidp.

  3. daline says:

    which is better to remove hair, laser or ipl?

  4. Nate says:

    i am 19 years old and still have some acne…my cheeks have been red for a couple of years now and telangiectasias can be seen…which would be better, pulsed dye laser or intense pulsed light (IPL)?

  5. Justin says:

    I agree with Ms. Cathy Lee!
    IPL is not harmful to skin and and follicularis.
    After IPL hair removal, I feel my whole body is fresh and clean. Can’t be nicer!
    Justin Liu

  6. jessica says:

    Hey,

    I have to tell you that ipl has only a 20% success rate with rosacea.. I started to show signs of rosacea about a year and half ago. It wasnt a sever case by any means but little vessals were visable on my cheeks and nose. I went to a derm who used a yellow yag laser and it did help, however the overall rendness was still on my face. That was 1800 bucks and i wasnt completely happy so i started to research other options. I went to a medi spa near my house and told them my situation. They gave me a inside look on all that was going on with this high tech machine and told me that ipl would take care of all of it.. Of course I bought the treatments and after 5 there was really no improvement. They said they would continue to treat me as long as it took to correct the problem…. 13 ipl treatments later. 3 pics of my face later and 1500 bucks later no change. The owner said he would give me my money back if the treatments didnt work and guess what? U guessed they wont call me back… Now for some better news to share. I have good insurance ,a major carrier and just happen to check out this internal doctor in my area who also treats roseacea. He uses the v beam laser and I have only had one treatment so far..I am hopeful.. But heres the best part after nearly spending 4000 I learned that my insurance covers my treatments because roseaca is a medical issue and the only way to correct and or treat this conditon is to use laser to rid the broken vessals…. Each treatment only cost my copay. Ipl does work better than anything else for the removal of blond hair only… dark get laser.

  7. anna says:

    Hello,
    I have had rosacea now for about 4 years, and am now 41. I have had a lot of laser treatments, but i haven’t gone for some time , because of the expenses. I recently bought the Hairmax premium laser comb.I am loosing hair . Today i used it on my jaw, for a short while, since it was itching, thinking if it did not help, it would not harm either. The itching stopped right after. Is there anyone who knows about it? Or has tried it as well?

  8. Bill says:

    Davo,

    I am thinking about IPL for my permanent facial redness, but I’m worried about losing facial hair as I have (and like) my beard. Can you tell me if IPL setting required to treat my facial redness would affect my facial hair in any way.

    Thanks in advance,
    B

  9. David Pascoe says:

    Hi Bill,

    you will find excellent answers to this question in the Lasers and IPL forum, specifically this thread ;

    Laser or IPL for beards.

    From Dr. Soldo:

    “I do many IPLs daily and have for 9+ years and have never seen a permanent hair loss when not using deeper depth filters(above 700nm)–I would be more concerned with the laser than IPL unless individual vessels are being treated DR S”

    From Dr. Crouch:

    “Hair loss can occur with laser or IPL and I would agree that whilst it can happen, if you stick to the lower filter ranges, permanent hair loss is less likely (but probably not nil risk). I always advise patients,particularly men, that hair loss is possible and that they should clearly indicate prior to treatment any area which they would not wish to lose the ability to grow hair (remember fashions change and what is fashionable today may not be in a decade or so). I never assume that hair loss will never be an issue with female patients. I also warn patients that there have been some (thankfully rare) reported cases of paradoxical hair growth stimulation with IPL. I agree entirely with Dr Soldo’s comments; regarding the choice of filters. When I offer triple passes to most patients with rosacea (using three separate IPL filter ranges), I would generally choose to omit the third pass over areas with “desired hair retention” i.e. miss the 695nm and above filters from treating, say the beard area of a male patient.”

    Hope this helps,
    davidp.

  10. esta says:

    Jessica,
    You wrote on 5/26/09 that Rosacea isa medical condition. I also have rosacea and got a IPL treatment
    yesterday but the Dr. didn’t say anything about insurance coverage. I have medicare and was thinking
    they may not consider this a medical issue. We also have
    AARP insurance. I would appreciate knowing how you
    were able to find out about this. We are in Arizona.

  11. rosa says:

    Just had the v- beam laser done yesterday. I am hopeful it will do the job on the facial redness on my cheeks and chin. Today there is a little swelling around my cheeks. When you have it done, tell the technician you want the non bruising setting where
    your face doesn’t turn purple for a week. I’ve had the IPL laser done before as well,but the V-beam seems to do the job better.

  12. Kelly says:

    I am an esthetition and thinking about either going for the laser class or IPL? Which one is better or should I do both?

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