Laser machines produce light of a single frequency, while intense pulsed light (IPL) emits a full spectrum of light frequencies. These are then filtered to maximize benefit for hair removal, acne, or photorejuvenation.
IPL machines are very versatile, proven useful, and safest with lighter skin types (lighter Fitzpatrick skin types- 1,2,3). Darker skin types tend to burn with IPL, and some patients do not like the sensation of the warm crystal and gel on the skin… preferring a cleaner feel to treatment we get with laser. Furthermore, IPL penetrates 0.8 mm depth into skin, the ND-YAG penetrates 5-10mm — allowing us to treat much deeper lesions like tattoo.
Laser offers the benefit of targeting very specific light absorbing molecules called chromophores. Doctors utilize this principle to focus light on treatments areas, and avoid damaging the surrounding skin. For example, we treat dark skinned patients with the Nd-YAG laser; it emits 1064nm light that melanin (the natural pigment in skin), absorbs poorly. This is very useful when treating Pseudofolliculitis barbae, a painful and unsightly skin condition which many African-American or Arab men suffer from; short curly hair grows back into the skin, doubling up into the pore, ingrowing, swelling and abscessing. We can non-invasively treat the inflamed follicles with laser, and see beautiful cosmetic and clinical results without antibiotics or painful extraction procedures. IPL light treatments cannot help the dark skinned patient, as the risk of burning the skin, hypopigmentation, or unsightly ‘lego blocking’ appearance are too high.With 1064 nm light, laser largely bypasses the natural skin pigment, heating and treating infected hair follicles deep under the skin.
In tattoo removal, we use infrared light (1064nm) to remove black tattoo, green light 532nm to target red tattoo, yellow light 585nm for sky blue and yellow, and red light 650 nm for green ink. Our Naturalase Laser produces 500 mj of 650nm light, to remove the toughest green color tattoos.
What all these light based therapies have in common, is they employ Selective Thermolysis = heating,damaging and eliminating the target, while avoiding healthy surrounding skin.
1,064 nm infrared light is approximately 10 times more readily absorbed by oxyhemoglobin than by water, the primary chromophore in the dermis. Using selective photo-thermolysis, it is possible to treat spider veins, remove tattoo, and reduce hair growth my targeting hair follicles.