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Harvey Jay, MD-(212)755-2237


January 3, 2003 - New York, NY. High-tech hair removal using intense pulsed light (IPL) technology is exceptionally safe on all skin types, even among patients with dark or ethnic skin, according to a clinical study commissioned by Cornell University and published in the December 2002 issue of Cosmetic Dermatology. The study, conducted by Harvey Jay, M.D. of New York City, tracked the safety of IPL hair removal experiences in 250 consecutive new patients. All skin types were included in the study group with 77% having dark complexions. Researchers reported a less than 3% incidence of minor, temporary side effects, including pigment changes and acne-like rashes.

"This is one of the largest and most comprehensive clinical studies to focus on the safety of laser or pulsed light," says Dr. Jay, Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical School, New York City. "Unlike previously published studies, we did not pre-screen our participants to exclude those with darker skin types who are typically more prone to side effects. We also treated entire body areas instead of test patches. Our findings show that in the right setting, with the right tools, with an expert dermatologist, successful and safe laser or pulsed light hair removal can be the norm for patients of virtually any skin color."

Dr. Jay notes many people are interested in long-lasting hair removal but are concerned about the risk of adverse side effects. He went on to say that his patients' worries have been exacerbated by media reports about the rise of patient complications from non-medical inexperienced practitioners who claim to safely perform hair removal on all skin types with one laser or light device in spas, salons and walk-in clinics.

With conventional laser hair removal, a single wavelength of coherent light penetrates the pigment in the hair shaft and disables the hair follicle. Introduced six years ago, IPL hair removal uses hundreds of wavelengths of incoherent light to accomplish the same goal but without the high levels of power or energy fluence required by lasers and associated with such side effects as skin discoloration and crusting. According to Dr. Jay, this mode of operation makes the IPL hair removal approach more suitable for patients who in the past were advised against laser hair removal.

"When performed correctly, pulsed light hair removal is virtually painless and does not require numbing of the skin. Significant pain should be viewed as a signal that the device settings are not customized to the patient's clinical needs," says Dr. Jay

Results of this milestone study are based on a retrospective analysis of 250 consecutive new patients who received a total of 498 IPL hair removal treatment sessions performed by Dr. Jay in his private office setting. More than two-thirds of the study participants (192) were classified as Fitzpatrick skin types IV through VI, that is, dark to very dark skin tones. Seventy-one per cent (71%) of the patients had black hair treated. Each patient underwent a complete dermatologic intake history and was evaluated by the physician to determine the optimal IPL power fluence and filter setting. Popular treatment sites included the face, underarm, bikini line, and back, among other body locations.

Patients were advised to use cold water compresses if any post-treatment discomfort developed and were instructed to contact the office the next day to report their results, adverse or otherwise. Eleven patients reported adverse side effects, namely: temporary skin lightening or darkening (3 patients); acne-like breakouts (6 patients); and slight tingling sensations or sensitivity (2 patients). All symptoms responded to medical treatment and cleared within weeks.

"While complications from laser or light-based hair removal have been documented in the literature, our study data reinforces the safety claims of office-based IPL hair removal procedure. Using therapeutic levels for treatment on a significant number of patients with all skin types, we have achieved high patient satisfaction and keep side effects minimal and transient," adds Dr. Jay.

Safety Tips When considering light-based hair removal, Dr. Jay recommends the following tips:
  • Seek out a physician with appropriate training, preferably a board-certified dermatologist
  • Ask about the number of hair removal cases he/she has performed
  • Request to see before and after photographs of treated patients
  • Ensure a physician is performing the procedure and available for follow-up care
  • Make sure treatment is administered in an appropriate medical setting
  • Check that the device is safe and effective for your skin type
Dr. Harvey Jay is a world-renowned authority in laser and pulsed light technology for the treatment of unwanted hair. He was one of the three original researchers who pioneered IPL hair removal in the United States. Dr. Jay has successfully treated thousands of patients for various dermatologic conditions including acne, rosacea, ingrown hairs, and facial blood vessels. For more information about Dr. Jay, to see before and after photos of IPL hair removal, or for links to procedure-specific web sites, log onto

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