With the proliferation of technology in the cosmetic industry, there has been increased concern and media attention on the use of Laser & IPL treatments and their safety.

Light based treatments fall under three (3) broad categories:

                1. Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation (LASER)

Lasers are a device that generates an intense beam of light by emission of radiation. It emits a focused beam of energy concentrated enough to precisely target a specific point eg Hair Follicle.

Lasers are used in many cosmetic procedures available to a broad range of people. Typical uses are for hair removal/reduction, removal of pigmentation, scar treatment and removal of tattoos.

Lasers used in the cosmetic industry are Class 4 lasers, that is, the highest and most dangerous class of laser that can burn skin and cause permanent eye damage if not used properly.

2. Intense Pulse Light (IPL)

IPL is a technology that produces light of high intensity during a short period of time. It is used for treatments similar to that of Lasers. They are broadband lights which have the ability to reach multiple target areas and hence, generally less specific.

IPL can cause major damage to the skin. Unlike Lasers, IPL treatment is less likely to differentiate between a hair follicle and skin lesion.

The IPL apparatus’ purchased in Australia for cosmetic use is generally of poor quality and very cheap. IPL machines can be purchased for as little as $5,000

                3. Light Emitting Diode (LED)

LED devices produce non-coherent and spontaneous light emission. Unlike Laser & IPL, this means that LED’s have a low peak power output light and cannot cause damage to any cells or tissue used on its own.

LED alone is used for collagen stimulation and facial rejuvenation. These can be bought by the standard consumer and used at home.

As a simple analogy on the damage that can be caused with Light treatments: If LED is a bicycle where no licence is required, IPL is a car that needs theory and practical training before being used.  Laser is then alikened to a semi trailer, needing extensive training before use.

Make sure that when considering any Laser or IPL treatment, that you see a trained professional.