The principle behind laser hair removal is this. The laser produces light energy, which the dark pigment in your hair and hair root absorbs. This heats up the hair causing damage to the hair follicle. The hair then shuts down and enters a resting phase. So you see slower growth and, eventually, many fewer hairs growing.
Not only does the density and thickness of the hair affect the results of effective laser hair removal, but the darkness of hair pigment and skin type or skin color (pigment) are also critical factors in treatment planning. Since laser hair energy is absorbed by anything dark in color whether it be hair or skin, the laser parameters will need to be set differently for individual patients.
Skin Type Varation
Skin types range from type I-VI based upon the so called Fitzpatrick scale:
I: White; Always burns, never tans
II: White; Usually burns, Difficult to tan
III:White;Sometimes burns, average tan
IV: Moderate brown; rarely burns tans easy
V:Dark brown;rarely burns, easy
VI:Black; never burns, tans easily.
In general in order that the skin is not adversely affected by laser treatment, it is recommended that self tanning be avoided both prior to and immediately following laser hair sessions. Fortunately at Advanced Laser Clinic, we use the GentleLase Laser Hair Removal System which can treat most every skin type effectively and thus is different from the majority of other laser machines available on the market.
What does the treatment involve? The patient will be asked to wear eye protection consisting of an opaque covering or goggles while the area to be treated will be shaved prior to treatment. Shaving at home before coming to the clinic can be very helpful particularly for the men with extensive hair growth on the back or chest region. A small handpiece is barely placed against the skin and a burst of laser energy is applied as the laser is activated. In some cases pre treatment with a special cream to anaesthetize the skin thus decreasing any discomfort during the procedure may be warranted. The duration of each treatment as well as the total number of treatments required vary between individuals based upon hair density, hair thickness, hormonal influences and hair location on the body. Because hair cycles through “growth” and “dormant” phases, as mentioned above and because during the “dormant” phase the follicle has no pigment 4-6 sessions may be necessary for permanent hair reduction.
What are the advantages over other forms of treatment? Traditional hair removal techniques such as shaving, plucking and waxing, provide only temporary relief and may actually stimulate hair growth. All of these methods commonly result in scarring, allergic reactions, and ingrown hairs. With electrolysis, the operator inserts a needle into the hair shaft with the intention of reaching the follicle, then sends a small electrical charge designed to disable the follicle. The operator then removes that particular hair with a tweezer. Hair removal is obviously much faster with a laser as the laser is pulsed about once per second across the surface of the skin. Each “pulse” of laser light disables a large numbers of hair follicles at the same time. Electrolysis operators can only treat those hairs that they can see but as mentioned earlier may be the only other permanent option if the patients present with light colored hair which remains ineffective against the
Are there any side effects? Immediately after the treatment the skin will look pink and slightly swollen, similar to a sunburn. This will subside within an hour or two and the skin will return to normal. Occasionally, a patient will have temporary pigment changes, blistering, or scabbing. As with electrolysis, cases of scarring have been reported with laser hair removal, but these are extremely rare. A test spot is often utilized to assess and determine how each individual’s skin will react. Once again, tanning is contraindicated before and between treatment intervals in order to decrease the incidence of skin reactions and pigmentary changes. Any history of excessive hair growth (hirsutism), hormonal fluctuations, localized skin infections or lesions, previous scarring of the skin, specific skin allergies or photosensitizing medications (Accutane and Retin A, as well as other medications), immunological problems, previous radiation and diabetes all can affect the eventual outcome or your results.
To read more about our laser hair removal technology and get a free, no-obligation consultation, visit our Laser Hair Removal service page.