Why do so many laser/IPL hair removal treatments fail?

Laser/IPL hair removal has been around since the dinosaurs…. Yet, it is still poorly understood and even more poorly delivered!

We have read all sorts of nonsense about this topic on the internet. There appears to be a lot of ‘mythconceptions’ out there, which just keep doing the rounds.

So, let’s drill down on this. What are the three most important issues when considering laser/IPL hair removal?

  1. The correct parameters MUST be used to ensure good results. This includes the wavelength(s), fluence, pulsewidth and appropriate choice of targets. There is no point even trying if these aren’t all correct.
  2. The interval between repeat sessions must be a minimum of eight weeks. This timing is determined by the growth cycle of hair. We can only target those hairs in the anagen phase and, even then, not all anagen hairs will respond in the way that we need! The interval between sessions varies according to the hair’s location on the body – in some areas the anagen phase is very long – up to a year or more. There is little point re-treating any area where the anagen cycle has not completed. It is a waste of time!!
  3. Pre-cooling of the treatment area is absolutely critical. If this is not done correctly, the patient/client will likely have a poor result. To properly destroy ALL the stem cells requires a good dose of energy delivered over a suitably long period of time. This will generate a lot of heat in the local dermis. Without proper pre-cooling this will result in collateral damage and pain.

In addition, to these points, it is very important to choose the correct patients/clients too. All light-based treatments of hair rely on a sufficient quantity and density of melanin in the hair shaft. If this condition is not met then the treatment will fail!

When we treat hair we typically use fluences up to 50 J/cm^2 with pulsewidths up to 60 ms or longer depending o the size and depth of the follicle. These parameters are fine to use when required, if the appropriate cooling is also carefully applied.

In summary:

  1. Laser/IPL treatments work by targeting melanin in hair, not blood vessels.
  2. Sufficient denaturation (or destruction) of the stem cells is the real goal of such treatments.
  3. Permanent hair removal is entirely possible, if the correct parameters are used.
  4. Most hair removal treatments result in ‘finer’ hair re-growing – this is a failure and shows a lack of proper understanding!
  5. Finer, thin hairs are much more difficult to remove than thicker hairs because they have less melanin and cool much faster.
  6. If the physiology and growth cycles of hair are properly understood, it is possible to permanently removal most hairs in around six sessions (or less!), on most body areas.

Incidentally, many people think that lasers are ‘better’ than IPL systems for hair removal – this is simply not true!!

We will explain a lot more about this stuff in our new book which will be out soon.

Ciao for now,


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