The EpiLight light-based hair removal system has been touted as “better than a laser”, “next generation of hair removal”, “classified differently by the FDA because it is (technically) not a laser”, “able to treat all hair & skin types”, “faster than laser”, etc. Several physicians have even coined and trademarked words to describe their EpiLight hair removal services. It seemed too good to be true, so Lasertrolysis of Naples made some inquiries.
Actually, we made LOTS of inquiries. We spoke with customers, physicians who use EpiLight, medical researchers who conducted EpiLight’s clinical trials, sales reps and manufacturers of both laser and light-based hair removal equipment. Many of these people had experience with multiple systems and were able to compare treatments firsthand. Everyone had their favorite system, and those with vested interests made cases as to why their equipment was better than the rest. We also reviewed the technical papers and specification sheets on all the systems, but the most interesting information came from past customers.
First, some background. Technically speaking, the EpiLight is a very powerful light source, although not actually a laser, because it emits light of many colors. Its operator uses a series of filters to select the color (wavelength) appropriate to remove hair, based on each individual’s hair & skin color. Because of its broad range of output, EpiLight can also be used to treat other skin conditions. Lasers, on the other hand, emit only one color (wavelength) of light, which is used at various energy settings to treat all hair and skin types. Laser developers argue that the output of their systems is designed to be exactly right for light absorption by (and killing of) hair follicles.
Were EpiLight customers happier with their results than laser customers? Overall, no. We heard many complaints of heavier than expected hair regrowth and large hypopigmented (white) marks on the skin from EpiLight patients. A few people even complained of blisters. One of the physicians commented that despite recent improvements to the equipment, he felt that his ruby and alexandrite lasers ultimately delivered longer-lasting hair removal results. After we removed one notoriously ineffective laser system from consideration, we found fewer positive comments from EpiLight customers than from laser customers.
“I had 80% regrowth on my neck and shoulders 2 1/2 months after treatment” claimed one young male EpiLight client. “I had 3 EpiLight treatments about 2 months ago on my upper lip and chin,” stated a young woman, “and although I must say it helped, since I had a full mustache if I didn’t use depilatories, tweezing and electrolysis, I feel I should have lost more hair than I actually did”.
Does this mean you should get laser hair removal rather than an Epilight center? Not necessarily. Many factors affect the quality of treatment, including training & experience of the operator, TYPE of laser used, and individual patient characteristics. Some hair removal centers, in their glee to offer an exciting new service, also make unrealistic representations about the number of treatments and results, setting their customers up for disappointment.
As with anything – get referrals and ask questions before you buy so you can be an informed consumer!