Do you know difference between laser treatment and IPL? Your questions answered here...


All you need to know ahout cosmetic laser treatment e.g. how does cosmetic laser technology work, when is a laser not really a laser and what’s the difference between laser treatment and IPL?


The trend towards light-based technology in beauty clinics is rising, as it offers many advantages over traditional cosmetic beauty systems. However, not all light-based cosmetic treatment systems use lasers; some are simply “fancy lights”.

Non-laser light-based systems are NOT AS EFFECTIVE as lasers for many cosmetic procedures. Also, some lasers are more suited to certain procedures; so it’s important to understand what type of light-based system is being used.

Laser Treatments use only laser technology – we do not use non-laser light-based systems like IPL

Discerning clients demand the results that only laser treatment offers; however some cosmetic treatment clinics advertise IPL (intense pulsed light) as a laser treatment when in fact it is not a laser at all; possibly because IPL equipment is less expensive for clinics to buy than a high quality laser!

Rest assured Laser Treatments UK use only laser technology, having invested heavily in the very best laser technology money can buy to ensure optimum results every time, no matter which treatment modality is involved. Combined with regularly maintained high quality lasers and fully trained laser technicians, you’re in safe hands with Laser Treatments.

Not all cosmetic lasers are created equal.   Here we hope to shed a little “light” on the subject!

“LASER” acronym: stands for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. A single colour wavelength source of high-energy light, lasers precisely focus on and transmit that light onto a tiny target area.

How lasers work: Lasers work through “selective photothermolysis” modulating the frequency of light (photo) to produce heat (thermo) in the area targeted for destruction (lysis). Lasers only emit light of 1 wavelength (colour) at a time. Our Nd:YAG laser can be wavelength tuned making it suitable for many procedures.

Ablative & Nonablative: The two types of laser used for cosmetic purposes. Ablative lasers affect the top layers of skin (epidermis). Non-ablative lasers penetrate deeper into the dermis, without affecting the top dermal layer so there’s no downtime with non-ablative lasers.

Cosmetic laser usage: Laser choice depends on the cosmetic treatment being performed. Laser Treatments use the best laser for the treatment, for example we use an Nd:YAG laser for hair removal or skin treatments and the Strawberry laser lipo system for inch loss.

Lines & Wrinkles: The Nd:YAG, CO2 or pulsed dye laser work well on wrinkle-reduction. Non-laser light-based treatments like IPL offer limited results. Laser Treatments use the Nd:YAG laser that also helps stimulate collagen production for improved results!

Skin tightening: Most lasers offer some level of superficial tightening simply because they produce a controlled “injury” to the skin that encourages increased collagen production. Non-laser light-based, infrared and radio-frequency based systems offer limited skin tightening. For more significant skin tightening combined with fat reduction, Laser Treatments use the Strawberry laser lipo system.

Birthmarks & stretchmarks: Nd:YAG, pulsed dye and fractional lasers are commonly used to treat pigmented lesions e.g. stretch marks, birthmarks, moles & port-wine stains, plus non-pigmented skin lesions e.g. white stretch marks. Non-laser light-based treatments like IPL offer limited results. Laser Treatments use the Nd:YAG laser for birthmark and stretch mark removal.

Pre-cancerous lesions: Cancerous lesions should always be removed by a surgeon. Pre-cancerous growths are removed by lasers as a preventative measure. A CO2 or YAG laser is generally used. Laser Treatments UK use the Nd:YAG laser.

Vascular veins & lesions: Vascular lesions include broken blood vessels, spider and thread veins on the face and unsightly varicose leg veins. For these types of skin problems Nd:YAG and diode lasers are commonly used. Laser Treatments UK use the Nd:YAG laser for vein removal.

Tattoo removal: The Nd:YAG and CO2 laser are very effective for tattoo removal. Moderate success can also be seen with IPL. Laser Treatments UK use the Nd:YAG laser for tattoo removal.

Hair removal: The safety and success rate of laser hair removal is dependent on the pigment or melanin present in the hair and skin. The Nd:YAG and diode lasers are the lasers of choice here, especially for darker-skinned patients, while IPL may be effective for lighter-skinned patients. Laser Treatments UK use the Nd:YAG laser for hair removal.

Acne & acne scar reduction: Historically the CO2 laser was considered the best laser for deep acne scar removal. Recently the YAG and fractional lasers have shown considerable success on more superficial acne scarring. LED technology can be effective on active acne. Laser Treatments UK use the Nd:YAG laser for acne and acne scar reduction.

Laser Treatments consultation: During the initial client consultation the laser is tuned to the patient’s individual skin and hair type and according to the treatment being administered, e.g. laser hair removal or laser tattoo removal, ensuring the best possible results on all skin shades and types.

types of cosmetic laserss

Question:   When is a laser not a really laser? Answer:   When it’s a light-based system like IPL

Non-laser light-based systems: Many different light-based technologies are used in cosmetic procedures today, but not all of them are actually lasers. These non-laser systems include IPL, LED, infrared and radio-frequency.

What’s the difference?: We’re often asked “what’s difference between laser treatment and IPL (Intense Pulse Light) treatment”. We hope the following information helps explain the difference between laser treatments and light-based treatments.

What lasers do well: Laser light is used to polish, lift, firm and perfect:the body and facial skin in a variety of ways, with less recovery time and often more success than traditional invasive cosmetic surgery methods that require the use of needles and knives.

Light-based technologies: A myriad of new light-based technologies have emerged in the world of cosmetic treatments, referred to as laser treatments, when in fact there is often not a laser involved at all. Whilst most are light-based, they are not ALL lasers. To illustrate the difference let’s take the simple light bulb – it’s NOT a laser, but it IS light-based.

Lights acting as lasers: In many beauty treatment clinics, non-laser, light-based procedures are often used instead of lasers to perform the same function as lasers. Some get moderately comparable results, but usually require many more treatments to achieve results that come close to the results from the use of a true laser.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL): IPL is not a laser. It’s a light source often used for skin rejuvenation instead of a laser. It can penetrate the skin with minimal damage and works by filtering various wavelengths of light to react with specific skin conditions. IPL can help improve red and brown skin discoloration and to tighten and refine the appearance of the skin. This is often called photo-rejuvenation or photo-facial. It can be used to remove smaller broken blood vessels, some tattoos and for hair removal on lighter skin types. However, IPL is not as efficient of effective as laser treatment for the above situations and often requires many more treatments than laser treatment.

Laser treatment versus IPL: Both treatments use light energy to disrupt the target being treated e.g. the skin, hair, tattoo, vein, birthmark, stretch mark or acne, but this is where the similarity ends. In laser treatment a single colour laser wavelength source of high-energy concentrated light is accurately focused to target and transmit that light on to a very small area so it is very accurate and precise, as opposed to diffuse, thereby providing a more powerful treatment and more accurate results.

Simply put, IPL treatment is much less effective than laser treatment for most cosmetic laser treatment uses. IPL energy is produced by a lamp, like a light bulb, to produce a variety of light waves, making it more diffuse and consequently much less powerful. It is usually limited to use on fair skin types.

For example, here’s a comparison of the differences between laser & IPL treatment for hair removal:

  • Lasers use the exact wavelength needed to effectively treat the hair in each light pulse
  • IPL uses hundreds of diffuse wavelengths in each pulse that heat up the skin but has little effect on reducing hair growth
  • Very short laser pulses combined with cooling minimise build up of heat on the skin
  • Laser treatments can be done quickly on larger areas, like the shoulders, legs and back
  • Laser hair removal is not as painful as other treatments like electrolysis or waxing
  • Laser treatment is tailored to a client’s own skin tone & hair colour for best results

Light Emitting Diode (LED): LEDs are tiny light bulbs that don’t overheat or burn out. LED can trigger natural chemical processes inside cells, boosting the body’s production of collagen. This makes LED useful for skin rejuvenation. LED is also effective in acne treatment.

Infrared: An infrared light source can heat the dermis (deeper skin layer below the surface epidermis). Heating the dermis causes a collagen contraction producing a tightening effect and steps-up collagen production, resulting in increased firmness, smoothness and tightening for a few months after treatment.

Radio Frequency: Radio frequency is not a light-based technology at all but is often used for the same purpose; often referred to as a nonsurgical face lift. Like infrared, radio frequency produces a controlled heat-related (thermal) injury to the dermis, encouraging collagen production to heal the injury.

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