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Dr. Goldenhersh

Cosmetic & medical dermatology

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How does laser/ IPL hair removal work?

Each hair grows from a hair follicle under the skin surface. The hair follicle contains melanin pigment which is a naturally occurring chromophore (see section on laser terminology). The powerful pulse laser/IPL light interacts with the melanin and generates heat. This heat damages the hair follicle rendering it incapable of producing another hair.

Besides hair removal, what other cosmetic treatments can be done with laser/IPL?

The following treatments require special equipment and technical know- how that is different from that required for hair removal:
-reduction of facial redness/ facial veins
-photofacial/ photorejuvenation treatment
-treatment of sun spots (brown spots)
-scar reduction – acne scars, surgical scars, chicken pox scars, and striae (stretch marks).

If cosmeticians are doing laser/IPL hair removal, why do I need a doctor?

Laser/ IPL treatments of skin are dermatologic medical procedures. Dermatologists, spend their entire professional lives studying skin, and are uniquely qualified to perform or supervise these procedures. Their training and experience helps them develop a proper understanding of the interactions between skin and light, putting them in a better position to achieve the right balance between power and safety.

Does it matter which laser/IPL machine is used?

Yes. Laser/ IPL machines vary in quality just like automobiles. A “Rolls Royce” of the laser/ IPL industry, as used in our laser center, provides optimal power with optimal safety. It has numerous options for adjusting the pulse width and the fluence (power). These factors allow for safer and more effective treatments.

Are cosmetic laser/IPL treatments safe?

Yes. Laser / IPL treatments have been done on skin for over 50 years. A hair removal laser/ IPL device was approved by the FDA in 1995. Treatments can be done even on teenagers. The key to safe treatment with laser/ IPL treatment is qualified medical supervision.

For facial hair, which is better, electrolysis or laser/IPL?

In general, laser/ IPL is the treatment of choice for facial hair. Larger areas can be treated more rapidly and more effectively with greater comfort and less risk of hyperpigmentation and scarring. The exception is light colored hair because laser/IPL only works on hair with brown or black color. Electrolysis works on hair of any color. Electrolysis, however not infrequently, leaves small scars. When laser/IPL is done under proper medical supervision, complications are rare.

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