IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light. IPL is what is known as broad spectrum light. This means it is made up from many different wavelengths (or colours) of light and the practitioner uses a filter in front of this very bright light in order to select various bands of colour for the treatment. This means that it is not selective and therefore the intense light targets many different structures in the skin. It can have an effect on structures in the skin that were not intended as a target, such as melanin during thread vein treatments.
Laser light on the other hand is a single wavelength and therefore has only one target in the skin. It can focus its energy on that particular target (such as blood or melanin) whilst at the same time, sparing any surrounding tissues or strutcures. This can lead to fewer side effects with lasers than with IPL. Lasers are specific to a certain job. A hair removal laser will carry out hair removal and a tattoo laser will carry out tattoo removal. For this reason, lasers tend to be very much more expensive to purchase for a clinic than IPLs, which will do multiple jobs in one go – think of IPL as being the “Jack of All Trades”. Consequently, IPLs tend to be found more often in beauty salons, whereas Doctors, Dermatologists and Nurses favour medical lasers.
Sadly, the Government a couple of years ago deregulated the laser industry. This means that it is no longer a requirement, as it used to be, for clinics to be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) if they are simply carrying out laser or IPL treatments for a cosmetic purpose. The CQC deem hair removal, thread veins and tattoo removal to be “cosmetic” treatments.
Whilst I could get into a huge debate with anyone about whether or not these treatments should be classed as cosmetic or medical…….is someone with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or Hyperthyroidism who has excess facial hair due to their condition only having a “cosmetic treatment” ……I won’t open that can of worms today!
But, since deregulation of laser treatments, as a consumer or patient, it is vital to be savvy and sensible when it comes to choosing the best treatment and the best clinics. Tattooists, beauty salons, hairdressers and other non-medics can now offer all sorts of laser and light treatments at their homes, shops or salons. Whilst treatments may seem straightforward enough to the untrained eye, the question that patients should be asking is…how easily would a non-medic be able to help me if I have a problem with treatment, or anything goes wrong?
The answer, sadly, is probably “not very easily”. It is important to check that your treatment provider has adequate medical indemnity insurance in the event of any adverse incident, which can happen, even in the most reputable of clinics. Often, it is the way a clinic deals with you when you have a problem that demonstrates their worth and merit.
We only have medical lasers in our Droitwich clinic. They are FDA approved, which means they have undergone rigorous clinical trials for safety and efficacy. The staff at our clinics have all undergone extensive training and operate under the jurisdiction of medically qualified directors, who are at hand to help should the need arise.
We invest in state-of-the-art equipment to ensure your safety and well-being. We believe this is far more important than anything else when it comes to delivering quality treatment.
Our lasers are safe, effective and deliver what they promise to do! We have lasers that are safe to use on all skin types. IPL treatments can carry an extremely high risk of causing Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) in Asian and black skin types. For that reason we do not use IPL in our clinic.
For more information on laser treatments visit our pages on Laser Clinic Treatments