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Laser hair removal may sound like something out of Star Wars but many think it’s the greatest beauty breakthrough since man invented the blow-dryer. The typical hair removal techniques of the past, such as shaving, tweezing and waxing, provide only short-term hair removal. Until fairly recently, the only long-lasting hair removal solution had been by electrolysis - which has been known to be time-consuming and usually limited to small areas as each hair is treated individually. Laser hair removal is non-invasive, safely removing unwanted body hair without damaging the delicate pores and inner portions of the skin.

The growth of this new technology has created enormous business in the field of epilation cosmetology, and for good reason. Laser hair removal is simply one of the most efficient means to remove unwanted hair currently available to a fashion-conscious public. It is basically easy and has become highly effective. A skilled and experienced laser operator can completely clear the leg hair growth on an average woman in under one hour.  The same area could require more than 20 - 40 hours of needle electrolysis. The cost becomes more affordable as customer volume makes laser hair removal prices drop.

A Science Spinoff
The development of lasers actually came from our U.S. Space program in the 1960s; they captured the imagination of both scientists and the general public with their razor-sharp beams and eerie glow. Soon thereafter, lasers whetted the imagination of those more advanced and adventurous in the hair removal industry. Their efforts in attempting hair removal began almost as soon as dermatologists and researchers began performing laser experiments on living tissue.

The first lasers used for dermatology in the mid to late 1960's emitted a continuous wave, but this was not practical for hair removal, since the beam could not be controlled well enough to avoid collateral skin damage until later when leaps in electronics enabled laser energy to be emitted in controlled pulses. Gradual improvements since 1997, such as better handpieces and ways of epidermal cooling, made laser hair removal safe. generally more tolerable, and reduced the likelihood of many side effects. The publication of clinical observations have also led to more optimized treatment parameters, but understanding of lasers and their long-term effects on hair and other skin structures is continually being researched.

It’s All Black And White
The primary mechanism in laser hair removal is a phenomenon known as selective photo-thermolysis, which is the effect that the laser emissions have on dark-pigmented material, such as hair. In the case of hair removal, the absolute requirement is that one's hair must be darker than the surrounding skin. Some important laser hair removal facts are:

  • Depending on the quantity of hair and size of area treated, the procedure will vary from patient to patient. Generally, the treatment must also include safety eyewear to protect the patient's eyes from the laser light during the procedure. The treatment may make some people nervous, others are so relaxed that they can nap during treatment.
  • The number of treatments required depends upon your skin, hair coloring, coarseness of the hair and its density on the treated area. Everyone generally requires at least 2-3 treatments as the process is only effective on hair during its growing cycle. More treatment will be necessary in treating the remaining follicles when they again enter their growth phase and produce new hair.
  • The most positive results have been achieved by giving the laser treatment in early stages of hair growth (this phase is termed anagen). It is in this window of opportunity when follicles are small, weak, shallow and highly vulnerable to the laser’s power that it can completely clear the hair growth.
  • Laser hair removal is more effective on light skin; fewer treatments are required, and better, faster results are obtained. People with darker skin can be treated, but results are slower, more sessions are required, and greater expertise is required on the part of the laser center.
  • Dark hair is easier to treat as it absorbs more laser energy. Coarse dark hair is the most responsive to laser treatment; light hair is more difficult to treat. Blonde or red hair is very difficult to treat; blonde or red hair usually contains a pigment which absorbs laser energy less avidly than the one present in black or brown hair.

Laser hair removal skin techniques must be individualized for each patient and remember, you’re the boss in choosing your laser hair removal options!

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