Laser hair removal has been around for about 40 years. Prior to the mid 1990’s, hair removal with lasers was performed experimentally. During this time, the technology was being developed and perfected. Around the mid 1990’s it was introduced and used commercially for the first time. It has now become accepted and practiced medilase as a legitimate way to permanently remove unwanted hair. The first home hair removal laser device was approved by the FDA in 2008. The rapid advancement of technologies providing for consumer safety made this possible. These technological advances facilitated the ability to safely and reliably remove hair permanently from the comfort of the consumer’s home.
A little back ground on laser hair removal technology and its use is important to understanding how lasers work. Photothermolysis is the basic underlying concept that lasers are built on. This principal works by matching the duration of a light pulse to a selected and specific light wavelength. This matching is what makes it possible to specifically target areas required to disrupt the hair growth while not affecting or damaging any of the surrounding tissues. The targeted area is the hair follicle which contains the melanin that is responsible for the hair growth. Lasers are light based and therefore are absorbed by darker matter. Melanin is the dark matter that absorbs the laser’s light. It is what provides the color in hair and skin.
Understanding what the hair types are and what skin and hair matches work best with lasers is essential. There are a couple of excess hair growth types that individuals normally target or are concerned with. The first type is Hypertrichosis, which is the excessive growth of hair that would be considered normal but in excess. The other is Hirsuitism which is an abnormal growth pattern of hair. This would be something like a beard, mustache, or hair growth on the stomach or chest of a woman. These issues can be caused by many different factors such as hormonal issues, medical problems, heredity, or a variety of other issues. Because of the scientific properties that lasers work on, the best combination of skin and hair colors is darker hair with lighter skin. This specific match provides for superior results. The other combinations of hair and skin colors are less effective and will have varying results. There are topical solutions that can be used to adjust the hair and skin colors to increase the effectiveness of the laser treatments.
Hair grows in cycles. The hair follicle’s can only be permanently disrupted when in the growth stage. Each hair on your body has its own distinct growing cycle and so not all hairs on your body will be in the growing stage at the same time. Because of this fact, the FDA specifically defines “permanent hair reduction” as the stable, consistent and long-term reduction in the number of hairs that re-grow on the body after permanent hair removal is performed. While each individual’s hair will react differently, the general expectation is that permanent hair removal will occur over a four to six month time frame. The process will take about 4-8 repeated applications of the laser hair removal device, with each application about 4-6 weeks apart. With each application, less hair will grow back. The hair that does grow back will be lighter and thinner in texture. Because of the nature of how hair grows, occasional touch-ups will likely be required over time, but there will definitely be fewer and fewer hairs re-growing with each application.
Safety is of the utmost concern when using a home hair removal laser, so it is strongly advised that all literature included with the device be read and fully understand before using. Some potential side effects that might be expected are itching, swelling and redness in the area that was treated. These symptoms are usually gone within 3 days. There are some other more serious side effects, but they are extremely rare. There have been a lot of built-in safety features in the newer models that reduce the risk of serious side effects and reduces the potential for mistakes to a minimum. It is also noteworthy to mention that home laser devices are generally unregulated in the United States, so anyone can buy and use them. In some countries these products are still regulated.