|Laser Hair Removal|
|By David F. Jaffe
Unwanted hair can
now be treated quickly and effectively using the latest generation laser
systems. The CoolGlide Vantage laser system used in Dr. Jaffe's office is
approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for removal of unwanted hair.
The light beam from the laser targets the pigment in the hair follicle beneath
the skin surface. When the pigment in the hair follicle and hair shaft absorbs
the laser light, the hair?s growth center is damaged. This results in either
complete destruction of the hair, or severe restriction of re-growth. Those hair
follicles that are in the active growth phase are the best targets for absorbing
the laser light and it is these hairs that are preferentially damaged and
Imagine no more painful waxing, plucking, shaving, or
electrolysis. Now your unwanted hair can effectively be removed from the face,
lip, chin, neck, underarms, bikini line, chest, back, legs, and other areas. The
skin is cooled during treatment so the laser treatment causes little discomfort.
Usually, a minimum of three treatments is necessary to achieve optimum results.
Sessions are separated by an average of 4 to 8 weeks.
about Laser Hair Removal:
How Does Hair Grow?
Hairs develop from a
complex series of interactions between different elements within the skin.
Interestingly, not all hairs are actively growing at the same time. They
actually go through distinct phases: growth, regression, and resting. The
duration of each phase is dependent upon several factors, including body
location. For example, at any one time 90% of the hairs on the scalp are in the
growth (anagen) phase, compared to only 70% of the hair on our arms. During the
regression (catagen) phase, the surrounding skin begins to absorb the hair bulb.
Finally, the hair enters the resting (telogen) phase, at the end of which the
hair falls out and the follicle begins the cycle again.
What Affects the
Appearance of Body Hair?
Age, ethnicity, medication, hormone levels, and
body site influence the length, coarseness and color of body hair. How much hair
you have depends on how many hairs are in the active growth phase, and how long
that phase lasts.
What Other Options Exist for Hair
Shaving: A simple method, it doesn?t affect the coarseness,
thickness, growth rate or cycle of hair. However, it is only a transient
solution and requires a constant commitment to maintain a hair-free
Tweezing: Tedious, painful, and impractical for large
Waxing: This procedure can cover a large area at a time and results
may last a month or more, but it?s painful and can often cause allergic
reactions and inflammation of the hair follicle.
Electrolysis: This involves
inserting a needle into each hair follicle and applying an electrical current.
Expertly used, it can be successful in eliminating hair permanently. However,
because you can treat only one hair follicle at a time, it is a tedious,
How Does the Laser System Remove Hair?
light emitted by the laser is absorbed by the pigment located in the hair
follicle. The laser is pulsed, or turned on, for only a fraction of a second.
The duration of each pulse is just long enough to disrupt the hair follicle. The
cooling hand piece helps protect the skin by cooling during the laser energy
delivery. The light is absorbed by the pigment in the hair follicle and this
energy is converted to heat which results in thermal damage to the hair
follicle. This thermal damage causes delayed re-growth of the hair as well as
permanent destruction of the hair follicle.
Does It Hurt?
feel a tingling, stinging, or heat sensation, and some areas of the body are
more sensitive than others. No anesthesia or pain medicine is required, but some
patients may prefer a topical anesthetic when treating sensitive
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
The laser works by
disrupting hairs that are in the active phase of growth at the time of
treatment. Since other hairs will enter the growth phase at different times,
additional treatments will be necessary to disable all hair follicles in a given
area. Treatments are usually given at intervals of approximately 4-8 weeks, or
whenever new hair growth is first noticed. Many patients are completely
satisfied with their results after only one or two treatments, while others will
have four to six treatments for maximum removal of all hair.
The FDA discourages the use of the word ?permanent?
because lasers have only been used for hair removal for the last few years. We
simply don?t know if the results will persist in 10 or 20 years. We do know that
the laser causes delayed re-growth of the treated hair follicles. In some
patients this will last for 24 months or even longer after several treatments.
Most patients will require some maintenance treatment as dormant hair follicles
cycle into the growth phase. Although most patients will achieve prolonged hair
removal in areas, this is not possible in all cases 100% of the time. Most
patients, however, are very satisfied with the results of their
What Happens After Treatment?
Within several minutes,
the treated area may become slightly red and puffy. This reaction subsides
quickly and within a day or so the areas return to normal. Patients often
describe the sensation of mild sunburn for the first day or so. You should not,
however, plan any important social engagements during the first several days
after your treatment, especially if the treated areas are on the face. Around
day 3-7 after treatment you may experience what seem to be hairs re-growing.
Most of these hairs, however, are treated hairs that are being shed and are not
re-growing. In between treatments you should not wax or pluck your
Who Is A Good Candidate for Laser Hair Removal?
candidate has dark hair and light skin. Darker hair absorbs more of the laser
light, and lighter skin interferes less with the movement of the laser light
into the hair follicle. Dark or tan skin runs a higher risk of pigmentation
changes following the procedure. The unique longer wavelength lasers used in Dr.
Jaffe's office allow darker-skinned and tanned patients to be treated safely.
Hairs that lack pigment will not respond to laser therapy.
Instructions Do I Follow After Treatment?
Treat the area as you would
mild sunburn. You may apply cool compresses, aloe gel or cortisone lotion for
any discomfort. Do not apply any aggressive products to the treated areas, such
as Retin- A, alpha hydroxy acids, or bleaching creams etc. until the skin
returns to normal. You may resume the use of all other products as tolerated. Do
not expose the treatment areas to direct sunlight or tanning beds. Sunscreen
should be worn daily. Three to seven days after treatment some of the hairs may
seem to be re-growing. This occurs due to elimination of the hair that remained
under the skin and is not true re-growth of the hair. Do not wax or pluck any
hairs between treatment sessions, shave or trim closely only. Do not pick or
manipulate the skin in the treatment area.