What You Need to Know About Laser Hair Removal

Many men and women have hair that they want to thin out or eliminate.

Over the past 10 years laser hair removal has advanced to the point where black and brown hair can be reliably and safely treated with lasers.

There is no laser treatment yet which is useful for white, blond or red hair.

Hair Removal Facts:

  • Shaving will NOT make the hair grow back in faster, darker or thicker! This is just an “old wives tale”.
  • Permanent hair loss will take four to eight laser treatments over 8 to 16 months
  • Blonde hair is the toughest to remove
  • The thickness and colour of your skin, and the colour of the hair to be removed, has a lot to do with which lasers can be used and how successful it will be
  • You should wait two months after waxing before any laser treatment to remove hair. The laser needs hair to work on.
  • Most people need between 4 and 8 treatments for substantial long-term hair reduction

How Lasers Work:

A laser is effective because the hair shaft absorbs laser energy, and it is the heated hair shaft, which kills the hair follicles. As the hair shaft is our target, it is important to stop waxing / sugaring or plucking about 8 weeks before laser treatment - if you pull out the hair shafts there will be no target for the laser. The best way to remove hair before laser treatment and between treatments is to shave the hair off, bleach the hair, or use depilatory creams.

The laser hair removal objective is to “toast the hair follicles without damaging the skin.” The surface of the skin is soothed and cooled by the laser head just before the laser energy is delivered.

With each treatment we kill as many hair follicles as possible. Follicles, which are not killed, are usually crippled by the laser energy, so just about all the pigmented hair falls out during the week or two after the laser treatment. New hair starts to grow several weeks to 1 month after laser treatment, and arises from 3 groups of follicles:

  1. Follicles, which were empty on the day of treatment and did not have a hair shaft in them to absorb laser energy. The empty follicles might have been between growth cycles, or might have been plucked or waxed out.
  2. Follicles which were injured but not killed by laser treatment may recover partially, so the new hair is usually finer and lighter than what you started with
  3. As time goes on some “peach fuzz” follicles can mature into terminal follicles which produce dark hair, which is a good target for the laser

Types of Hair Removal Lasers:

  • The first lasers that were used on a wide scale for hair removal were the ruby and - for very white, thin skin - alexandrite lasers
  • Nd-YAG lasers can be used safely on all skin types, including Mediterranean, Asian and Black skin
  • About 5 years ago diode lasers were introduced. They are more effective on thicker skin like the back and legs and can be safely used on people with lightly tanned skin.

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