Laser Hair Removal
Temporary hair removal is accomplished with conventional treatments such as shaving, waxing and epilation. Another method is the use of selective photolysis, which is light energy that is produced by the laser, and is targeted at the pigment in hair. This causes destruction of hair follicles while sparing surrounding structures (i.e., the skin).
Laser hair removal can be mild to moderately uncomfortable. Each individual hair follicle is surrounded by nerve endings. While some patients may be able to tolerate the procedure without the use of an anesthetic, others may find the application of an anesthetic cream (such as EMLA) helpful. A generous layer of anesthetic cream is applied for 30-60 minutes before the procedure and can provide adequate relief from discomfort during the procedure.
For satisfactory, long-lasting hair removal most patients require three to six treatments. The interval between treatments varies between 4 and 12 weeks, and will depend on your hair color, the type of laser used, and the location treated.
Fortunately, the complications of laser hair removal are rare if it’s done by an experienced and skilled physician. You should expect a certain degree of pain, swelling and redness around the hair follicle after each treatment session. These symptoms resolve over the following 24 hours and include:
- Infection: Bacterial Skin Infections are rare and occur when the superficial skin is injured. Antibiotic treatment may be prescribed, but generally good wound care is sufficient to prevent infection. If you have had prior episodes of cold sores or herpes simplex infections, you may develop a recurrent episode after a laser treatment. If you have a history of herpes simplex infections, your doctor should prescribe appropriate antiviral medication prior to laser hair removal to prevent a recurrent herpes episode.
- Scarring may rarely occur and generally follows an infection or superficial skin injury.
Who is a candidate for Laser Hair Removal?
Almost anybody who has undesirable hair is a candidate for laser hair removal. However certain conditions may complicate treatment. Laser hair removal achieves the best results with light-skinned, dark-haired individuals. Lasers with longer wavelengths are generally useful for darker-skinned patients.
Caution must be exercised in certain situations:
Laser hair removal can be performed on virtually any hair bearing part of your body including your arms, legs, bikini area, back, etc.
Objectives of Therapy
Lasers used for Hair RemovalLaser energy, through the principle of selective photothermolysis (a process that involves selective absorption of an intense light pulse at wavelengths that are absorbed by the hair follicles, but not by the surrounding tissue), targets the pigment in the hair follicle. This causes destruction of hair follicles while sparing surrounding structures (i.e., the skin). Growing hair is more sensitive to destruction than resting hairs. Many of the lasers listed below utilize epidermal or skin cooling techniques. The effect of cooling the surface of the skin serves to minimize discomfort during treatment while increasing the effectiveness of the laser treatments.
- This laser is more effective for dark hair. Blonde and gray hairs are more resistant.
- White hairs do not respond to treatment
- Epilaser® (Palomar) and Epitouch® (Sharplan) are examples of ruby lasers
- It is effective for dark hair. Blonde and gray hairs are more resistant.
- White hairs do not respond to treatment
- It is potentially safer for darker skin than the ruby laser
- Rapid repetition rates of the laser will reduce treatment time
- Apogee® (Cynosure) uses a cooling gel on the skin
- Gentlase® (Candela) uses dynamic cooling spray
- It is effective for dark hair. It is not effective for fine hair.
- Potentially, it is safer for darker skin types
- LightSheer® (Coherent) uses contact cooling
- It is potentially useful for darker skin types
- Epilight® (ESC) uses cooling gel
- It can temporarily remove light hairs
- It is potentially safe for all skin types, and causes the least epidermal damage of all treatments.
- Carbon suspension is applied to skin in some treatments
- There is a lower risk of epidermal damage
- Short operative times are required
- It causes the least discomfort of all laser hair removal treatments
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