When Should I Choose Laser over IPL?

Laser or IPL: Selecting the Ideal Skin Treatment

If you’re thinking about having a laser or IPL treatment, then we have no doubt that you’ve come across both these terms and asked yourself – “What’s the difference between laser and IPL?” It’s one that we hear in our office every day!

First, it’s important to explain the differences between lasers and IPLs. They are commonly lumped together, but the reality is that they are apples and oranges. If you understand their differences, it will help you better decide which is the better treatment to help you with your particular problem.

Perfect Skin Treatment Laser or IPLPerfect Skin Treatment Laser or IPLLaser is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Lasers work by taking one, single wavelength of light and multiplying it, making it more powerful. Each laser has a unique energy source that produces a very specific wavelength of light. This essentially means that each laser is very good at treating only a specific problem.

A laser with a wavelength of 595 nm (nanometers) effectively treats conditions involving excess blood vessels as hemoglobin in red blood cells specifically absorbs this wavelength of light. However, it cannot treat pigmentation issues or rejuvenate the skin or reduce wrinkles. Lasers are highly specific and generally good at treating a single type of skin problem.

IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light. These devices use a range or many different wavelengths of light. Because of this, they can treat a few different, unrelated skin problems. Many people choose IPL treatment for generalized sun damage because the light generated by IPLs includes wavelengths for both blood vessels/redness and pigmentation (sun spots), making it effective for both concerns.

IPL’s Energy Limitations: Superiority of Laser Treatments

So, why wouldn’t you just use IPL for everything? IPL, although versatile, lacks the ability to generate sufficient energy for treating tough skin conditions like tattoos, hair removal, and red and brown birthmarks. In contrast, lasers surpass IPLs as they can be adjusted to deliver a more powerful single wavelength of light.

Another factor is that some lasers can be used to treat any and all skin types (colors). Generally, because of the array of wavelengths in IPL, it is not as safe option for medium and dark skin types as lasers. Asians, Hispanics, East Indian and African Americans can end up with skin blistering and burns after IPL treatments.

Celibre Medical: Extensive Laser Options for Skin Conditions

Because most laser centers have and offer both types of treatments, many people assume they are the same. Nothing is further from the truth. In fact, you should ask questions about which devices a practice uses for your skin type before you sign up for treatment. One that offers IPL for everything may not be the one that you want to choose.

At Celibre Medical, we offer more than 10 different class IV medical lasers for a variety of skin conditions. We believe that this allows us the superior ability to safely and effectively treat almost any skin condition in any skin color. While we also have and offer IPL, we only use it when it’s the safest and most effective treatment option for you.

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