Laser Hair Removal
A preface to the laser hair removal
Laser hair removal is an increasingly popular non-surgical cosmetic procedure. It is a non-invasive, convenient method to reduce hair growth. Laser hair removal was performed experimentally for about 20 years before it became commercially available in the mid 1990s. The efficacy of laser hair removal is now generally accepted in the dermatology community, and laser hair removal is widely practiced in clinics, and even in homes use devices designed and priced for consumer self-treatment.
Depending on the area being treated, the process may take anywhere from several minutes to several hours to complete. The most commonly used lasers utilize a low energy laser beam. This beam passes through the patient’s skin and is attracted to the pigment of the hair. The energy passes down the hair shaft and is absorbed by hair follicles that are in the active growth phase, thereby disabling the hair follicle in the deeper layer of the skin. The hair follicles that are in dormant phase are not affected by the treatment. In most cases, minimal pain should be experienced and no anesthesia is required.
Number of sessions and interval between sessions
Multiple treatments depending on the type of hair and skin color have been shown to provide long-term reduction of hair. Most patients need a minimum of seven treatments. Current parameters differ from device to device but manufacturers and clinicians generally recommend waiting from three to eight weeks depending on the area being treated. The number of sessions depends on various parameters, including the area of the body being treated, skin color, coarseness of hair, reason for hirsutism, and gender. Coarse dark hair on light skin is easiest to treat. Certain areas (notably men's faces) may require considerably more treatments to achieve desired results. Hair grows in several phases (anagen, telogen, catagen) and a laser can only affect the currently active growing hair follicles (anagen). Hence, several sessions are needed to kill hair in all phases of growth. This problem is countered by spacing appointments sufficiently so that inactive follicles will start to grow again. Laser does not work well on light-colored hair, red hair, grey hair, white hair, as well as fine hair of any color, such as vellus. For darker skin patients with black hair, the long-pulsed Nd:YAG laser with a cooling tip can be safe and effective when used by an experienced practitioner.
Usually treatments are spaced three to eight weeks apart depending on the body area and the hair cycle length for that area. The face usually requires more frequent treatments three to four weeks apart, whereas legs require less frequent treatments and patients should be advised to wait at least six weeks. Typically the shedding of the treated hairs takes about two to three weeks. These hairs should be allowed to fall out on them and should not be manipulated by the patient.
Laser Hair Removal Benefits
- A non-invasive, gentle technique that reduces undesirable hair from most parts of the body
- Treats larger areas effectively because it disables more than one hair at a time
- May make skin color and complexion more uniform
- Minimal discomfort
- Replaces waxing, electrolysis, shaving and bleaching
- No downtime
Probable side effects of Laser Hair Removall
- Laser hair removal is an ongoing process that requires multiple sessions because it only affects actively growing hair, and not all hair follicles are active at the same time. In addition, high energy levels are avoided so as to minimize the risk of injury to the adjacent skin
- Occasionally patients may experience slight redness of the skin or mild swelling around the hairs
- Sunscreen is recommended for any area treated that may be exposed to the sun
- Patients with darker skin may not respond well due to inadequate discrepancy between skin and hair colors
- Blonde or gray/white hair is less responsive due to lack of ample pigment in the hair