For many years now, lasers and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) devices have been used for permanent hair reduction, rejuvenation and treatment of skin imperfections. However, many people confuse these two technologies. Although IPL and laser are both light-based, they have several distinct differences. Here is a comparison table that will help you better understand the particularities of each technology, and thus choose the one that suits you best!
|Definition||Intense pulsed light is a technology that produces very high intensity light delivered in one or a series of short pulses.||A laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) device normally consists of a sealed tube, containing a pair of mirrors, and a laser medium that is excited by some form of energy to produce visible light, invisible, ultraviolet or infrared radiation.|
|Energy source||Xenon Flash Lamp||Stimulated emission|
|Light Beam||IPL devices use a polychromatic, non-coherent light which penetrates several layers of skin and simultaneously targets multiple chromophores.||Laser devices emit a light described as coherent, monochromatic and collimated. The concentration of light energy can be beneficial for certain treatments, while limited for others.|
|Effectiveness||Although scientists, manufacturers of these devices and estheticians all debate the effectiveness of pulsed light compared to laser light emissions, it has been concluded that their results are more or less equivalent.|
|Cost||IPL devices are less expensive than laser devices, and one should anticipate lower maintenance, repair costs and lower insurance coverage.|
|Duration of treatment||The size of the IPL crystal covers a surface up to 5 times greater than that produced by a laser device. Consequently, this reduces the duration of treatment.|
|Versatility||New generation IPL devices are extremely versatile. They can be used for hair removal(epilation), skin rejuvenation, vascular lesions, pigment spots, and acne treatments by a simple change of a filter.||Laser light is limited to one wavelength, and consequently can be used for only one type of treatment. An esthetician would therefore need to use a different laser to treat multiple skin conditions.|
|Comfort||Although each individual tolerates pain to a different degree, most agree that IPL devices provide a greater level of comfort because of the delay between each pulse.|
|Industry Regulation||In most countries, the use of laser devices is restricted to doctors. On the other hand, IPL devices can be used by estheticians and electrolygists.|
Intense Pulsed Light therapy is becoming a more and more popular esthetic option because of the many great benefits it offers. Continuous innovation over the past few years has improved the effectiveness, reduced the duration of treatment and ensured a greater comfort level when using IPL devices.