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Research Papers on IPL & Laser Devices


Research Papers on IPL & Laser Devices


Intense Pulsed Light or IPL as it is known to most patients was first used in the cosmetic industry for hair removal. It evolved into a tool for facial redness, Rosacea, pigmentation issues and "anti-aging".Light pulses targeted at the hair follicle causing the hair to fall out and prevent further growth.

In ththis diagram, you can see how deep a the light must penetrate to reach the hair follicle to "destroy" it. To me, as I am not medically trained, it looks as though the laser has gone well below where the fat layer is, passing through the fat layer on the way to its target (hair follicle).

How can it be assumed that surrounding layers of fat are not damaged in the "journey"?

From what I have read and in my discussions with those who have experienced fat loss following IPL treatments, our feeling is that the fat layer IS damaged by IPL. IPL treatments for other cosmetic procedures appear to be compromising the blood vessels in the fat layer leading to the "death" of the fat or fat atrophy. If an IPL treatment can kill hair follicles, it seems perfectly logical (to me) that it could damage blood vessels in the fat layer of the skin.

The quote from one study speaks of the oxidative and cumulative damage of IPL.

It appeared in the Archives of Dermatology, Olivier Sorg, PhD; Victor Janer, MD; Christophe Antille, MD; Pierre Carraux; Evelyne Leemans; Elizabeth Masgrau, MD; Jean-Hilaire Saurat, MD; Denis Salomon, MDArch Dermatol. 2007;143(3):363-366Quoting the study:

Conclusions: These preliminary results indicate that IPL, although filtered for wavelengths shorter than 500 nm, can generate oxidative stress, a typical hallmark of UV-A, but does not induce thymine dimers. This emphasizes the need for long-term studies involving IPL before using this technique in a recurrent manner.

The quote below is taken from an article commenting on the above study written by Craig A. Elmets, MD . Published in Journal Watch Dermatology April 13, 2007.

According to the subtitle of Dr. Elmet's article:

Molecular study suggests that we keep an open mind about the long-term safety of IPL therapy.

However, the level of lipid peroxides in IPL-exposed skin was six times as high as in nonirradiated skin and twice as high as in skin exposed to UVA light. Comment: The implication of this study is that IPL treatment may not be without consequences. Although IPL irradiation did not affect thymine dimer production because the light source does not emit in the UV range, it did produce considerable amounts of lipid peroxides, an indicator of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been associated with a number of deleterious effects; beyond premature aging of the skin, it has been shown to promote skin cancer in experimental animal models. Although these molecular studies do not necessarily mean that long-term adverse effects will ensue, the results point to our ignorance of IPL’s lasting effects. Many highly effective therapies have had adverse effects that were not fully identified until years after regulatory approval. Until IPL has been in active use for a while longer, continuing
follow-up of patients remains important.

This study speaks of possible DNA damage by IPL.

This study was published in Lasers Surg Med. 2007 Jan;39(1):7. 

The study was conducted on mice:
CONCLUSION: The repeated use of high-energy laser and intense pulsed light source did not cause any toxicity in mice. The changes in p16 and PCNA imply that further studies are necessary to consider the implications of repeated exposure to longer wavelength radiation in human skin.
There is no doubt, based on the studies above that IPL has considerable risks. It is now time to acknowledge that the risks go far beyond those found in the studies above and give credence to those who have most definitely experienced fat loss through IPL treatments. Our blog andsupport forum exist to enlighten and warn others of the dangers of IPL. IPL damage is real, not a myth.


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