Before ‘IPL’, there was ‘Supraherence’!!

Terrible name! Thank goodness we dropped it.


Back in 1996 we were developing the world’s first IPL system for hair removal. Except, back in 1996 the name ‘IPL’ had not been coined! We were using a strange expression – “supraherence”. I honestly can’t remember why we came up with that!!

SupraLite 2000 v2

We had done a short study with our QS ruby laser on the removal of hair following our observation of the loss of hair during tattoo treatments. At that point we had been removing tattoos using this technique for around 14 years in Canniesburn Hospital, Glasgow. It had been developed by my predecessors.

On the left is the first device we built – the SupraLite 2000 (which we called ‘Quasimodo’!!!)







This is me pretending to be treating a tattoo in Canniesburn Hospital – for PR purposes!


However, we already knew that the Q-switched laser pulse was too short to effectively destroy the hair follicles. So we embarked on developing a new device – the ‘Supraherent’ system. This employed a flashlamp coupled with a filter to remove the unwanted wavelengths.



This is the original QS ruby laser used to develop the tattoo-removal technique used across the world today.


The trick was using longer pulsewidths to effectively denature the proteins in the follicles. Nanosecond pulses are way too short to do that, so we designed the system to output millisecond pulses instead.

It took a couple of years but we finally succeeded and launched the first IPL system designed for the aesthetic market into the UK in 1999 – the ‘Plasmalite’. Fortunately, by this time, the expression ‘IPL’ had been created (by an unknown person!!)

The rest is, as the say, history….







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