Laser or IPL? What’s the difference?
Lasers and IPL are frequently confused but have very different characteristics and treat different problems. To start, a LASER (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) is a device that emits a specific wavelength of energy at once typically in a straight line. By emitting only a one wavelength of energy, you can control what your target is. While targets may absorb several wavelengths of energy, there is usually one that is absorbed more effectively. So you can choose a particular laser for blood (spider veins, hemangiomas, port wine stains), a different one for water (Skin), or one for each color of pigment (age spots, tattoos). IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) emits many wavelengths of light energy at once and is sometimes used with filters to reduce the number of wavelengths of light transmitted. Because it is non specific, it can treat a lesion that has a wide spectrum of absorption such as with age spots. But because it is non specific, it may be less effective in treating a specific target. Both devices can be dangerous in the wrong hands, or like magic wands in the right hands. When choosing someone to treat you with lasers or IPL, make sure they don’t have just one laser and claim that it treats everything.