IPL/ Laser Hair Removal and Skin Tone
IPL/ Laser Hair Removal, Skin Tone, and The Fitzpatrick Scale
The treatment approach to IPL/ Laser hair removal depends on skin tone.The most commonly used guide for selecting the skin type for LASER and IPL treatments is the Fitzpatrick Scale. This guide helps us predict the skin’s rate of aging, risk of cancer, and reaction to UV exposure. The Fitzpatrick Scale ranges from level 1 – 6, with level one being the lightest and level six the darkest.
Different treatment approaches for different skin tones
Because lighter skin tones contain less melanin, they absorb less energy and release it faster. As a result, they are less likely to react adversely following LASER and IPL treatments. In addition, less energy absorption allows us to use higher settings in the early stages of treatment which translates into a higher rate of hair reduction.
On the other hand, melanin-rich tones absorb more energy. Therefore, a lower setting is required, especially in the early stages of the treatment course. Easing the skin into the treatment reduces the risk of burns and hyperpigmentation until it builds tolerance to the energy. Although we can safely treat darker skin, the rate of hair reduction decreases in darker skin tones.
In short, advanced IPL / LASER operating systems can effectively treat a wide range of skin tones. However, there are limitations to treating beyond a Level 5. Adverse reactions such as burns and permanent scarring can occur due to the pigment in the skin absorbing the energy emitted by the laser.
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