How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
Hair removal and maintenance can be annoying and perhaps even painful. For this reason, many men and women turn to laser hair removal to eliminate unwanted body hair permanently.
In addition to removing hair, the process offers precision and speed. Lasers remove the hair without damaging the skin. If you have ever wondered how laser hair removal works, this guide will you help you understand what to expect.
Laser hair removal is a process that destroys the hair follicles to limit or destroy hair growth in the future. A single laser hair removal session lasts just a few minutes and causes mild discomfort, but the results are long-lasting. Patients who receive these hair removal treatments report feeling relieved by the lack of constant upkeep.
The process of undergoing laser hair removal may be simpler than you think.
What Happens During the Laser Hair Removal Session?
A hair removal professional will use concentrated energy to target hair follicles with lasers. When the device is placed against your skin, you will see a brief flash of light as the lasers target the pigment of the hair follicle.
When this happens, you may feel a quick snap against your skin, similar to that of a rubber band. The laser targets several follicles but will only impact a small percentage at one time. This is why several laser hair removal sessions are necessary.
Is laser hair removal safe?
Laser hair removal uses heat to destroy the hair follicle. However, there is a possibility that the skin surrounding the hair absorb some of the heat as well. If not enough cooling is present, then there is increase chance of pain or burns.
The laser hair removal systems that Peach Medical Group uses have built in cooling systems that cool the skin during the treatment. Depending the skin type, laser hair removal technicians may use ice for additional cooling and also a topical anesthetic for increased comfort.
Does laser hair removal work on all skin types?
Modern laser hair removal systems have come a long way and the majority will be able to treat patients of all skin types. The laser hair removal systems that Peach Medical Group uses are safe for the majority of skin types.
If the skin type is dark enough to where the hair cannot be contrasted with the skin, the there is increase risk of burns and also less effectiveness since the laser hair removal system cannot target the follicle properly.
Patients that have darker skin types are recommended to get test spots. Laser hair removal test spots can be done on an area that is typically hidden to see the reaction after the treatment.
What Happens Post-Laser Hair Removal Session?
While you will not notice hair removal results right away, you should begin to notice hair falling out within the next one to three weeks.
You will likely need several sessions of laser hair removal to see the full results, but you will see some hair loss after just one session. As you attend more hair removal sessions, you will see fewer hairs return after treatment.
Laser Hair Removal: Patient Resources
Laser Hair Removal Mechanisms
The human hair follicle is comprised of four regions: the Infundibulum, Isthmus, Suprabulbar and hair bulb.
The infundibulum includes the upper part of the hair canal. The inner cavity of the infundibulum contains the hair shaft, keratin and sebum. The lower part of the isthmus contains the bulge area of the hair follicle. The bulge region stores several types of stem cells, which supply the entire hair follicle with new cells.
The human hair growth cycle consists of three main phases: the Anagen, Catagen and Telogen. The Anagen phase is the growing, proliferative phase of the hair follicle. The Anagen duration varies between one to six months depending on the age, season, gender, hormonal balances and body area of each individual.
The majority of the hair follicles can be found in the long Anagen phase though this differs in different areas of the body.
The Catagen phase is the intermediate phase between the Anagen and Telogen and lasts approximately 3 weeks. The cycle ends with the Telogen phase, the resting period of the hair cycle during which time no growth occurs. Telogen phase also varies and in different body areas can last between three to six months.
Several approaches are available to remove excess or unwanted hair, including shaving, tweezing, waxing, depilatories, and electrolysis. The laser/light technology used for hair removal is based on the principles of selective photothermolysis.
During treatments, specific chromospheres, melanin, absorb the light energy, where it is turned into heat, leading to photothermal destruction of the desired target. During the Anagen, the proliferative hair follicle bulge and bulb are the main components for hair growth and are the desired target for thermolysis.
Melanin is produced in high quantities in the hair follicle bulb and is therefore the main target for effective long term laser hair removal.
When hair is formed by a rapid division of cells in the bulb, it contains melanin, which is produced by melanin-containing pigment cells (melanocytes). During growth the cells are cut off from their supply of nourishment and start to form a protein called keratin.
The therapeutic basis of the LightSheer Duet laser system is selective photothermolysis. To affect hair removal, the 800 nanometer laser light penetrates deep enough into the dermis where the optical energy is preferentially absorbed by the melanin in hair, causing a rapid heating of the hair shaft and follicle that disables the follicle.
The LightSheer Duet combines the use of the ET handpiece and the HS handpiece. Each handpiece has distinct characteristics that enable high efficacy for targeting the hair follicle.
Firmly pressing the ET handpiece against the skin during hair removal treatments is hypothesized to contribute to greater comfort due to enhanced cooling and higher efficacy.
When compressing the skin it chases out the blood and therefore there is possibly less absorbance by blood, it also brings the base of the hair follicles closer to the point of energy application resulting in higher efficacy.
The HS handpiece with vacuum assistance applies negative pressure, achieving an overall similar effect as the ET while enabling a greater degree of control over the administered pressure and its localization.
Stretching the epidermis with vacuum causes it to become thinner so melanosomes concentration is lower, hair follicles and their bases are pulled closer to the surface and the energy source.
As a result, there is preference for absorption in the hair melanin and less energy is required to affect the follicular target. This in turn enables effective treatment at lower fluence levels than conventional methods, thereby also omitting the need for concomitant skin cooling.
Laser Hair Removal Indications and Contraindications
Laser hair removal treatment indications:
LightSheer Duet pulsed diode array laser systems are indicated for use in surgical, aesthetic, and cosmetic applications in the medical specialties of general and plastic surgery, and dermatology. The LightSheer Duet pulsed diode array laser systems are intended for use on all skin types (Fitzpatrick skin types I – VI), including tanned skin.
The LightSheer Duet laser system with the LightSheer Duet ET laser handpiece is intended for the treatment of vascular lesions, including angiomas, hemangiomas, telangiectasia and other benign vascular lesions, and the treatment for pseudofolliculitis barbae.
The LightSheer Duet laser system with the LightSheer Duet HS laser handpiece is intended for the treatment of benign vascular and pigmented lesions, hair removal, and permanent hair reduction.
Note that permanent hair reduction is defined as a long-term stable reduction in the number of hairs regrowing after a treatment regimen. The number of regrowing hairs must be stable over a time greater than the duration of the complete growth cycle of hair follicles, which varies from 4 – 12 months according to body location. Permanent hair reduction does not necessarily imply the permanent elimination of all hairs in a treated area.
Laser hair removal treatment contraindications:
Patients who have had prior problems with laser therapy should be carefully screened before treatment.
Treatment should not be attempted on patients with the following conditions in the treatment area:
Significant concurrent skin conditions or any inflammatory skin conditions.
Active cold sores, open lacerations or abrasions.
Chronic or cutaneous viral, fungal, or bacterial diseases.
Deep suntan, recent suntan, sunburn or artificially tanned skin.
Laser hair removal treatment complications
The most common immediate responses of laser treatment for hair removal are erythema, edema (redness and swelling), and perifollicular edema, which may occur immediately after laser treatment and typically resolve within a few days. If excessive or prolonged edema or erythema occur, they are considered side effects.
Other side effects may include hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation (darkening or lightening of the skin) of the treated areas. Side effects of treatment are fluence-dependent and skin type dependent. Transient skin pigmentation changes may resolve within a few months, but may last longer. In rare cases, skin pigmentation changes may be permanent.
The following complications and side effects may also be observed:
Irritation, itching, burning sensation, or pain during treatment or following treatment.
Superficial erosions of the treated area may be visible after laser treatment.
Crusting and blistering of the treated area.
Erythema abigne, which is the development of an acquired persistent reticulated erythematous and pigmented rash of the skin produced by prolonged or repeated exposure to moderately intense heat or infrared radiation.
Transient exacerbation of hair growth.
Purpura confined to the exposure area may be evident for several days following treatment.
Pruritis may occur in rare cases.