Earlier this week I had a demo treatment with the Quadra Q4. My practitioner is looking at adding some new machines to her practice. I thought I would take advantage of the demos and learn something about the new machines on the market.
The Quadra Q4 uses only wavelengths in the visible region, from 400-700nm. This is according to their website. The specs mention wavelengths from 500-1200nm so there is a discrepancy there. Possibly the longer wavelengths are not present in high enough intensity to affect the treatment. This device operates at a lower voltage than other IPLs and the flash capacitors are not fully discharged. This results in a more consistent spectrum of light being emitted by the Xenon flash tubes. And the low voltage results in a more consistent pulse waveform, instead of the spikes emitted by other IPLs. This is supposed to result in more comfortable and effective treatment. This is explained in detail in a white paper on the Quadra Q4 IPL system .
The Quadra Q4 is approved for hair removal on skin types I-V IIRC. I initially wanted to have my arms done, which are at least type IV, bordering on type V. The Quadra rep said that if the Q4 was used on my arms, photorejuvenation would also take place. That means that I would lose most, if not all of my tan and leave all my skin looking like the inside of my arms. He said most guys are not interested in that look and I agreed. Plus, he said even if I did have my arms treated, the fluence would have to be turned down in order to avoid burning, and it would not be as effective. My practitioner said I would need to wait a few months for my tan to fade to be treated on my arms at these wavelengths or we would have to use a device with longer wavelengths. I never use sunscreen on my arms or legs or chest so they are very dark. Everyone asks me if I just came from Florida LOL! I guess I’ve been spoiled by the YAG lasers, only having to stay out of the sun a month or so before treatments.
I do use sunscreen on my face and head since the skin there is more sensitive to the sun. So the skin there is not as dark, and the skin under my chin down to the front of my neck is even a little bit lighter. So we decided to do the beard. It was about time to get another beard treatment anyways. I have had 6 treatments with Nd:YAG lasers (Sciton and Lyra-i) with an 80% reduction of my beard. This will be a good way to judge the relative effectiveness of the shorter wavelengths of the Q4 (400-700nm) and the longer wavelength of the YAG (1064nm). There is enough coarse hair left to present a good target for the IPL device.
The Q4 has a relatively large spot size of 34 X 27mm, or 9 square centimeters. This allows for deeper penetration into the hair follicle compared to smaller spot sizes, and it compensates for the inherently shallower penetration of the shorter wavelengths. The larger spot size allows for faster treatment times too. The treatment head also has a cooling fan which was surprisingly effective.
The pulses from the Q4 were less painful than the Harmony, which did not have a cooling system. It was slightly less painful than the Nd:YAG lasers, which use more sophisticated cooling systems. No cooling gel is required with the Q4. I was able to tolerate the treatment just fine without any anesthetics. I could smell the hair burning, which is always a good sign. A few minutes after one side of my beard was treated, I could feel a burning sensation, similar to a mild sunburn. After about 10 minutes it subsided. I had some post treatment erythmea (redness) that lasted about an hour. It looked like I had a sunburn during that time. There was some residual redness, much less than right after the treatment, that lasted about 2 days.
Right now my beard feels stubbly, moreso than it normally does. It feels smooth again after shaving with the Braun Activator, but the stubbly feeling returns after about 12 hours. This is similar to my post treatment experience with the YAG lasers. So far so good. There is no shedding yet. I am told to expect shedding in about 2 weeks. A few hairs have released without much resistance when tweezed. All I can do now is wait.
It is too soon to reach any final conclusions, but the Q4 shows some promise for type III and lighter skin. I don’t know if this will ever be suitable for my darker skin. I think the YAGs are going to prove to be better for the darker skin. I will now have a good comparison between shorter and longer wavelengths for hair removal on my beard.
For more information on the Quadra Q4, including before and after photos, check out the Quadra Q4 Web Site