Laser Hair Removal
Over the years removal/reduction of unwanted body hair has been an intrinsic part of our lives regardless of the gender. We have been using the tried and tested traditional methods such as waxing, creams, threading, shaving etc to achieve the desired results. However these give a temporary relief and one has to repeat the process. With the modernization of the world, people desire improved results in achieving the same. With technology available through lasers and advancement in field of Dermatology it has been possible to achieve superior results, rather long-term solutions at faster pace.
The laser hair removal technology is medically proven to give good long-term results in reduction of hair growth. It works on a simple principle, wherein a light of specific wavelength destroys the hair follicle with minimal effect on the surrounding tissue.
Laser works on principle of “Selective Photothermolysis”. This was introduced by RR Anderson and JA Parish in the year 1983. It is use of short pulses of light matching a specific wavelength (typically between 600 – 1000 nm)and duration on a targeted area to achieve optimal results with minimal damage to surrounding tissue.
The heat energy is specifically targeted to the follicle which is responsible for hair growth thereby avoiding the other surrounding area. The target is thus destroyed by heat diffusion from the absorber and not by direct heating. It will in due time causes permanent damage to the hair follicle.
Hair growth occurs in multiple phases namely Anagen (active hair growth phase), Catagen (regression phase, shrinking of hair follicle) and Telogen (resting phase of follicle). The laser treatment is effective during the active hair growth phase (Anagen). Hence, multiple sessions (6-8) are needed to damage the hair in all phases and force it to revert back. The number of sessions also depends on other factors such as area of the body being treated, coarseness of hair, gender and skin colour.
Points to Ponder!!– One should not wax or remove hair from the root before or during the course of the treatment.
– It takes about 2-3 weeks for the treated hair to shed. They should be allowed to fall out on their own and not manipulated.
– White hair, light blonde and strawberry blonde hair does not respond well to the treatment.
– Since heat is involved in the process the person may experience some discomfort which is reduced by a chilled laser tip or alternatively by application of ice packs.
– Some may experience pain depending on case to case. A local anesthetic cream can be used prior to treatment in such cases to cause less discomfort.
Types of Lasers
The standard wavelength for hair removal is between 600nm and 1100nm.
1. RubyLaser (694nm)- its light source is deep red and is used for pale skin type.
2. Alexandrite Laser (755nm)- it uses diode crystals to emit wavelength and is used for all skin types. This type is said to be more effective in treating light skin and thin hair.
3. Diode Laser (800-810nm)- have been proven safe, relatively cheap and effective. Used for pale to medium skin type.
4. Neodymium-Doped Yitrium Aluminum Garnet Laser (Nd:YAG) (1064nm)- used for darker complexion skin. Has a deeper penetration hence more effective.
5. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) (515-1200nm)- they do not qualify technically as lasers, but work on the same principle as that of lasers. IPL uses flash lamps (xenon) to emit incoherent light. Can be used in all skin types. Ease to treat large areas is the only advantage. However it is less effective than others.
Side Effects and Complications– Pain and prolonged erythema
– Post Inflammatory hyperpigmentation, usually temporary and can be treated in few days
– Postinflammatory hypopigmentation, difficult to treat
– Swelling around the area treated
The most important point to be noted is that this treatment should be taken in a proper dermatology clinic under the supervision of a licensed dermatologist and not anywhere.
Multiple sessions are required. The treatment essentially leads to hair reduction and not permanent removal.