Does IPL cause paradoxical hair growth?
Paradoxical Hypertrichosis, or PH for short, is when, “energy-based treatments which include laser or IPL (intense pulsed light) can mean some individuals (uncommonly) can end up with more hair, or coarser hair, or a combination of both post-treatments,” explains Dr Williams.
The other more commonly seen complications were epidermal burning with blisters, erosion, and crust formation followed by post-inflammatory hypo- and/or hyperpigmentation. Conclusion: Paradoxical hypertrichosis and terminal hair change is a common complication of IPL photoepilation.
IPL and Laser are fast, gentle and effective hair removal technologies. Skin Chemistry may recommend IPL/Laser treatments on particular areas of hair growth. However, we have found that IPL/Laser on hormonal areas such as chin, under chin, sides of face, neck and breasts can cause a rebound effect on hair growth.
The primary cause of instances of 'true' paradoxical hair growth is probably limited to darker phototypes with one or more other characteristics including polycystic ovarian syndrome or other androgen hormonal irregularities following high energy treatments with the corresponding inflammatory sequelae.
Treatment for paradoxical hypertrichosis is laser therapy of the affected area.
IPL is most effective while your hair is in the growth phase –if you treat your skin multiple times a week, your hair can become dormant and IPL treatment won't work as well. Additionally, while IPL is a gentle treatment, too much of it can be a bad thing. If you use IPL too frequently, you can irritate your skin.
Although side effects of IPL are typically rare and minimal in severity, the most common adverse events include pain and erythema. Other reported side effects include edema, bullae, hematoma, crusting, hyper/hypopigmentation, leukotrichia, scarring, keloid formation, and infection.
The number one factor that may trigger new hair growth is hormones. It could be hormones due to pregnancy, menopause or a hormonal condition. We must make clients aware that this is a possibility after their treatment, as no hair removal can be classed as 'permanent'. IPL is semi-permanent and does need maintenance.
Why do hairs 'grow' after treatment? Contrary to other treatments, hairs are not vaporised by IPL treatment. The hair follicles are killed by the heat but the hairs remain in the skin and often become attached to the epidermis.
Misconceptions About Hair Growth
Similarly, some may believe that laser can stimulate hair growth, but this is not supported by scientific evidence. The appearance of increased hair growth after laser hair removal can be concerning, but it's important to understand that this is a normal part of the treatment process.
How common is paradoxical hair growth?
Paradoxical hypertrichosis estimated to occur in 3 % of those undergoing laser hair removal. Laser hair removal is one of the most frequently performed cosmetic procedures Different lasers (ruby, Alexandrite, Nd-YAG) and intense pulsed light (IPL) systems have been used for hair removal.
An uncommon but striking adverse effect is an increase in hair density, color, or coarseness, or a combination of these at treated sites in the absence of any other known cause of hypertrichosis. This event has been called paradoxical hypertrichosis, terminalization, induction, and terminal hair growth.
Paradoxical hypertrichosis (PH) is said to have a low incidence from LHR, ranging from 0.6% to 10% of those treated; however, risk increases among those with underlying androgen-related hormonal conditions.
The paradoxical effect has been documented most commonly after the use of induced pulse light and alexandrite lasers. One possible explanation is the activation of dormant hair follicles by suboptimal fluences. Another mechanism may be the synchronization of hair growth cycles by direct light stimulation.
Patients may notice more hair 1 – 3 weeks after laser hair removal sessions as follicles in the growing cycle begin to shed. During this process, exfoliating the skin, once swelling and redness have dissipated, can help hairs shed faster, leaving skin feeling smoother.
Paradoxical hypertrichosis after laser therapy is a rare side effect. One systematic review notes that prevalence varies depending on the targeted area. Hair induction can happen in up to 3% of cases that target facial hair or the neck area, but only about 0.08% of all other cases.
You can use IPL devices at home up to twice a week over the course of about 8 weeks. You won't speed up the process if you try to bust the fuzz on those underarms daily. In fact, you could be setting yourself up for side effects like skin irritation.
Stopping with the IPL treatments after just one or two courses will not result in full results. Usually after the third treatment results become more noticeable but for permanent hair removal, you should continue with the full treatment.
Overuse of IPL hair removal devices can damage the skin and form crusts. The skin burns and blisters can also develop into crusts.
A full-thickness or third degree burn would be the most severe adverse event that could occur to the skin through misuse, error or malfunction of an IPL or laser.
Can IPL cause hair loss?
After IPL hair removal
The hair will appear to grow (though very slowly) for 2 to 4 weeks and should then fall out; this is the treated hair being pushed out of the follicle, not new growth. Any hair that does not fall out was either too fine, too light, too deeply rooted or possibly wasn't treated.
So although some have seen results using IPL to treat melasma, one of the side effects is that it can make matters worse. Causing hyperpigmentation, a condition which is harder and takes longer to treat. This is why we choose to treat this type of face pigmentation with skin care products for great results.
It is not recommended to have IPL/SHR on areas with stubble as it could result in uneven results or even skin damage due to increased heat absorption from longer hairs. Shaving prior to your appointment will ensure effective treatment and better skin safety.
Each hair strand in the human body passes through four stages of growth: anagen, catagen, telogen and exogen. It is during the anagen, or growth phase, of the hair that laser, IPL or LHE permanent hair removal treatments can destroy hair at its roots and therefore prevent any new growth.
No one actually knows why this happens with laser patients, but after treatment, the laser can do the opposite of what you're expecting and actually stimulate hair growth. And, if that wasn't enough, the hair can actually come back thicker and darker!