What is laser hair removal?
What is laser hair removal? Laser hair removal is a procedure by which hair is removed from the body by utilizing a laser. The laser parameters are carefully defined by studying the anatomy of the hair follicle and precisely matching the laser light and pulse duration to the follicle size, depth and locations to inhibit the re-growth of the hair.
The laser works by disabling hairs that are in their active growth cycle at the time of treatment. Since other hairs will enter their growth cycle at different times, several treatments are necessary to disable all of the follicles in a given area.
What areas can be treated?
What areas can be treated? Both men and women seek laser hair removal services to have unwanted hair removed. Hair removal is commonly done on the following areas:
Man’s full beard
Top of the nose
Basically, any area with unwanted hair. Laser hair removal works best on lighter skin tones with dark coarse hair. The closer you are to this combination, the faster and better your results.
Is laser hair removal permanent?
Is laser hair removal permanent? The general opinion is that laser hair removal is permanent. It will take approximately 3 – 6 treatments, everyone is different regarding the number of treatments that will be needed. There are a lot of different factors, such as hair color, skin color and if there are any medical conditions. Factors that determine the length of treatment include the particular area being treated, the texture of the hair, frequency of treatments, history of temporary measures to remove hair (such as waxing, tweezing, shaving, threading and depilatories ect…).
How does laser hair removal work?
How does laser hair removal work? Lasers are designed for permanent hair reduction. The laser emits a wavelength of light designed to be absorbed by the pigment in the hair (melanin). If the surrounding skin is relatively light compared to the color of the hair, then the entire energy of the laser will be concentrated in the hair shaft, effectively destroying it without affecting the skin. Hair removal lasers target the dark pigment in the hair. That’s why laser hair removal works best on light skin and dark coarse hair.
The laser emits a beam that only heats the hair shaft. The heat is then transmitted from the hair shaft to the surrounding tissue for several milliseconds after the laser pulse. Several lasers posses cooling attachments which cool the surrounding skin to fully absorb any heat transmitted from the destroyed hair shafts.
The lasers can only treat the hairs that are in the active stage of growth (the follicles that have the blood supply). When the procedure is performed, all of the hair follicles that are active will be destroyed during the treatment.
You will need multiple treatments simply because the hair grows in cycles. The hair cycles are typically between 4 to 8 weeks apart, depending on the areas being treated. The treatments must be performed around the time frame in order to get the maximum results. Failure not to follow the schedule will result in more treatments than normal.
Nu Body of Dallas’ GentleLase and Yag lasers are some of the most advanced lasers on the market, and are the only lasers that have the built in cooling system. A millisecond before the laser hits the skin, a puff of cryogen is sprayed in the area to cool the skin. This advanced system combines the most advanced laser with a built in cooling system, which makes the laser more effective, more comfortable and with less complications.
Be aware that hair removal systems that use traditional light for treatment (Intense Pulse Light machines better known ad an IPL) are not true lasers. These devices use a highly concentrated beam of traditional incoherent light, often in conjunction with a cream or gel to burn the hair shaft. A serious flaw with these systems are that they lack the laser’s ability to produce a selective bandwidth of light that can heat up all of the surrounding tissue. IPLs are generally cheaper devices and are used for various skin procedures first and foremost, with laser hair removal as more of an afterthought. True lasers usually achieve better and faster results for hair removal.
If you are already being treated for laser hair removal, make sure the laser being used has a built in cooling system.
There are No Gels that are applied to the Skin…No laser cool tips, ONLY a built In Cooling System…
Don’t settle for lasers that DO NOT HAVE a built in COOLING SYSTEM!
How should I prepare for a laser hair removal treatment and what should I expect after the treatment?
You should have the area cleanly shaven when coming in for your treatment. When the hair is longer you are wasting the laser energy above the skin, rather than using the energy to treat the hair effectively. You can either shave the night before or the day of your treatment. If for some reason you were not able to shave before coming into the facility, then it can be done at that time. No waxing, plucking, or threading for at least 3 – 6 weeks before your treatment, because you are actually breaking off the hair below the skin, so when the laser is fired you are not able to treat those hairs that have been plucked or waxed. This should continue throughout your treatments.
After your treatment, your skin will appear to be a little red or pink and should go away between 20 minutes up to a couple of days, all depending on the person. With most people the redness is gone in a few hours, sometimes by the time you leave the office. Post laser cream will be applied to the area that was treated, which will calm the skin. Within 5 to 15 days after your treatment, you should experience shedding of the treated hair. At first, the hair will look like it’s growing back in, but it’s the body’s way of pushing the dead hairs out of the skin. Exfoliating and /or scrubbing gently in the shower with a loofa can help speed up the process. After shedding is finished, you might experience little black dots still “stuck” in the skin. These are commonly referred to as “pepper spots” and will shed eventually, but might take a bit longer. Exfoliate to help those out as well.
After shedding, you may experience a hair-free period for a few weeks, the next hair growth cycle will become active. These are hairs that were previously in the dormant stage.
How many laser hair removal treatments are required and how far apart should they be?
Most people will usually need between 3 – 6 treatments (some people may need more treatments because of different problems and parameters, such as hair color, skin color, medications they are taking, hormonal imbalances ect…). These treatments are spaced about 4 to 8 weeks apart. This is because hair grows in cycles and the laser can only kill the hairs that are in the first “anagen” active growing phase. Several treatments are needed to target ALL hair in the active phase. Approximately 4 to 8 weeks after treatment it will be time for another treatment to treat the hairs that were in the dormant stage before.
After 3 – 6 treatments the client should experience a considerable percentage of hair reduction. Depending upon hair type and genetic factors, some clients may require additional treatments beyond these initial treatments. If it seems like the treatments are not working after 6 treatments, clients should look into possible underlying reasons for hair growth, such as: heredity, pregnancy, hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance issues, medication, normal aging process and if the client has been tweezing, waxing, threading, plucking or the use of depilatories.
Are laser hair removal treatments uncomfortable?
Everyone is different, I have some clients that say all they felt was cooling on their skin, it really depends on the hair color, the density of the hair, the skin color and the laser settings.
What are the possible risks, side effects, and complications of laser hair removal?
The possibilities exist that some side effects or complications can occur given several variables, including:
Itching, during and after treatment
Redness for several days
Swelling (around the follicle) for up to 3 days>
A little pain, or tingling
Crusting/scab formation (ingrown hairs) Bruising
Purpura (purple coloring of the skin) on tanned areas Infection
Temporary pigment change (hypo-pigmentation or hyper-pigmentation)
Side effects occur infrequently and, as a rule, generally are temporary. If any of the above last for more than 3 days, make sure to contact your technician an/or doctor. There is a possibility that settings were too high and the technician needs to know in order to adjust for your following treatment.
What are the possible causes of excessive hair growth and how can it affect my treatments?
The causes of excessive hair growth pattern are many and varied, including:
Every laser candidate should explore possible underlying reasons of extreme hair growth. Some conditions or medications can cause hair growth. Women with PCOS should consult with her doctor (endrocrinologist) to have a hormone test performed. This will be discussed during your consultation.
What things should I consider when finding a laser hair removal center?
The clinic – Make sure that you are going in for a “free” consultation to see if you are happy with the way the clinic looks and feels (clean, up-to-date and informative. Avoid being pressured by sales reps to sign up on the spot (often prevalent at chain clinics); these reps are on commission and their mission is to make sure you sign a contract so you are locked in. Do not be fooled by the different percentages off on packages. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples regarding the true price and areas you are wanting treated. Also make sure that the lasers being used are the most advances lasers on the market and that they have a built in cooling systems, this keeps the risk of complications at a minimum.
The laser technician – Make sure the person performing your treatment has extensive experience in laser hair removal. There is alot of turnover in laser hair removal center chains, definitely, make sure you are comfortable with the person treating you. Keep in mind laser hair removal is not taught in Medical School and does not reflect the experience a doctor may or may not have. You should be looking for specific knowledge and experience in laser hair removal.
The Laser – Make sure the laser being used is best suited for your skin and hair type. Do not fall for “marketing hype”. You should be looking for one that will produce the most efficient results for YOU.
For Skin Types I – IV – the best results is achieved with a Candela GentleLASE alexandrite laser, with the built in cooling system.
For Skin Types V –VI the best results is with a YAG or a diode laser because of the different wave lengths.
Fitzpatrick Skin Types
|Type I||Always burns, never tans, extremely sensitive to the sun||Caucasian|
|Type II||Always burns, tans minimal, very sensitive to the sun||Caucasian|
|Type III||Sometimes burns, tans gradually to light brown, sun sensitive||Caucasian/Asian/Hispanic|
|Type IV||Burns minimal, always tans, to moderate brown, minimal sun sensitive||Hispanic/Indian/African American|
|Type V||Very rarely burns, tans well||Dark brown – African American|
|Type VI||Never burns, deep pigmintations, black||African American|
What does hair growth cycle mean and how does hair growth work?
Under normal circumstances hair growth in each hair follicle occurs in a cycle. There are three main phases of hair growth cycle: anagen, catagen and telogen.
Anagen (active) is the growing phase or when the hair fiber is produced. During anagen, the hair contains an abundance of melanin, the pigment which gives your hair color. This is the phase during which laser hair removal treatments are the most effective.
Catagen (club hair) is the period of controlled regression of the hair follicle. This phase is when the lower part of the hair stops growing, but does not shed, and the follicle is reabsorbed. It will be difficult for permanence to be achieved when the hairs are in the catagen cycle.
Telogen (tired) is the last of the hair growth cycle. In this resting phase, the old hair falls out in a preparation for the development of new anagen hair. Permanence cannot be achieved when the hair is in the telogen growth cycle.
Remember, anagen is followed by a period of controlled regression of the hair follicle. Ultimately the hair follicle enters telogen, when the follicle is in a resting state.
Normally this cycle of hair production will continue for the duration of the individual’s life. However, other factors can influence, promote and inhibit hair production. How well the laser can eliminate the hair depends on the skin type/color, hair type/color and what initially caused the hair to grow.
Can I reduce the density of hair on an area instead of completely removing it?
Yes, this can be achieved with having only a few treatments.