What to do when things get hairy…
When it comes to methods of hair management, laser hair reduction holds a special place in my heart. There is minimal downtime, low maintenance, and long-lasting results, and it can be totally tolerable in the pain department.
What is laser hair reduction?
LASER is an acronym that stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Laser hair reduction is a procedure that uses a laser; a concentrated beam of light, to remove unwanted hair. During this treatment, the laser emits a light that is absorbed by the pigment (melanin) in the hair. The light energy is converted to heat, which damages the hair follicles and as a result inhibits or delays future hair growth. There are various laser hair reduction options utilizing wavelengths that have been proven to be effective. This includes the ruby, alexandrite, diode, and Nd:YAG lasers and intense pulsed light (IPL).
How does it work?
During laser hair reduction a laser beam passes through the skin to its target or chromophore; an individual hair follicle. The intense heat of the laser damages the hair follicle, which inhibits future hair growth. After the treatment, the follicles are damaged and unable to produce new hairs or can produce only very thin, tiny hairs that are virtually invisible.
Laser Hair Reduction Mechanisms:
- Selective photothermolysis; melanin in the hair is the chromophore (target) which absorbs laser light energy
- Hair conduction theory; a significant amount of heat is conducted through the hair shaft and follicle causing thermal damage
- Extended theory of selective photothermolysis; follicular stem cells in the bulge and dermal papilla are secondary targets by heat diffusion
“The theory of selective photothermolysis enables precise targeting of pigmented hair follicles by using the melanin of the hair shaft as a chromophore. To achieve permanent hair removal, the biologic “target” is the follicular stem cells located in the bulge region and/or dermal papilla. Due to the slight spatial separation of the chromophore and desired target, an extended theory of selective photothermolysis was proposed that requires the diffusion of heat from the chromophore to the desired target for destruction.”(George J. Hruza MD, MBA, in Lasers and Lights: Procedures in Cosmetic Dermatology, 2018)
Hair follicles are continually cycling through three phases: anagen (growth phase), catagen (transitional phase), and telogen (resting phase). Hair is most susceptible to this treatment while it is in the anagen phase. Due to this timing it’s not possible for any laser treatment to achieve 100% hair removal, however it is possible to significantly reduce the number of growing hairs. For this reason, multiple treatments are recommended in order to target as many follicles in the anagen phase as possible.
Results vary significantly from person to person depending on a number of factors. Most people experience hair removal that lasts for several months or even years. However, laser hair reduction doesn’t guarantee permanent hair removal. Initially, multiple treatments are needed for optimal results, and maintenance treatments may be needed for long-term hair reduction. As with all other treatments, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to a treatment plan for laser hair reduction. It will differ depending on these hair reduction efficacy factors;
- Skin type (Fitzpatrick)
- Hair type (color, thickness)
- Hair topography (depths, density)
- Hair growth stage (anagen, catagen, telogen)
- Hormonal background
This is why we require a thorough consultation in order to receive laser hair reduction treatments at Sapien Skin. We’ll map out a plan based on the factors above and determine the right hair reduction device for you, frequency and number of treatments, discuss expectations, cost, and maintenance along with the risks and benefits.
Wanna learn even more? Visit our Laser Hair Reduction FAQ page here
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“Soprano Ice Platinum – Laser Hair Removal Device: Almalasers.” Alma Lasers, 29 Nov. 2021, https://www.almalasers.com/alma-products/soprano-ice-platinum-edition/.
Laser hair removal – Mayo Clinic. (2022, May 4). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/laser-hair-removal/about/pac-20394555
Laser hair removal: FAQs. (2021, November 22). AAD. https://www.aad.org/public/cosmetic/hair-removal/laser-hair-removal-faqs
Haedersdal M, Wulf HC. Evidence-based review of hair removal using lasers and light sources. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2006 Jan;20(1):9-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2005.01327.x. PMID: 16405602.
Bhargava, A. (2012, November 27). Beauty and the Geek: The Engineering Behind Laser Hair Removal – USC Viterbi School of Engineering. Illumin Magazine. https://illumin.usc.edu/beauty-and-the-geek-the-engineering-behind-laser-hair-removal/