04/27/2010 12:16PM ● Published by Style
As longer days lend to warmer weather, unwanted hair and excessive hair growth can become an unsightly and time-consuming problem.
Laser Hair Removal (LHR) is a widely practiced alternative to waxing, shaving and electrolysis. More appropriately named Laser Hair Reduction, it minimizes hair growth with each consecutive treatment. Laser technology was experimentally tested in the ‘50s, and became publicly available in the ‘70s. In recent years, significant advances in technology and pain minimization have increased the demand for LHR. The most common areas for women seeking LHR treatment are the chin, upper lip, armpits, bikini area and legs. Men tend to have back or chest treatments. Dr. Celia Remy with Vitality Medical Clinic discusses the misconceptions surrounding LHR. “The most common misconceptions are that the process will take one or two treatments, and that results will be seen quickly, and that it is a permanent process,” Dr. Remy says. While LHR can be an effective measure to combat unwanted hair, it’s by no means a quick-fix solution.
Hair type, skin type and pigment are all factors that determine LHR results and effectiveness. Dr. Kenneth Sumida, with Nuance Cosmetic Surgery asserts that the best patients have light skin color with dark hair. “The laser seeks color. If the hair is colored, it will receive the most treatment,” Dr. Sumida says. Patients with darker skin are candidates for LHR, but special attention and an adjusted laser is required for efficacy. Additional and extended treatments, as well as topical creams may also be necessary.
Protective eyewear is required for all persons in the treatment room. During treatment, the technician moves the laser along the chosen area of the body. The laser energy follows the hair to the base of its follicle, light is absorbed by the pigment and converted to heat, and the heat in turn loosens the hair and disables the cells responsible for growing new hair.
Hair growth is cyclical, resulting in the need for multiple treatments to precisely minimize hair over a large area. The laser sends a low-energy beam through the skin that is absorbed by melanin, dark pigment present in hair follicle shafts. “Permanent body hair reduction is achieved by using pulses of infrared diode laser energy. The hair follicles in the sub-dermal layer are gradually heated until they can no longer produce new hair growth,” describes Nurse Practitioner Jessica Finsley, with Skin 360 Medical Aesthetics. While the individual treatments are widely accepted as nearly painless, each patient is different and has varied pain thresholds. The pain is described as a warming sensation and similar to “rubber band snaps,” but topical anesthetic creams or gels can be utilized to minimize discomfort. Generally, complete LHR requires a minimum of five treatments, spaced between four and six weeks apart.
Important advancements in LHR include safer treatments for patients with dark skin; and certain laser models offer significant pain reduction to pain-free treatment. Dr. Michael Greenberg, with SKINovative Laser Center utilizes the Soprano XL Alma Laser, a virtually painless LHR system. “The most valuable benefit of this laser is that it’s almost pain-free and local anesthetic is rarely required. It can also be used on any skin type,” he says. With developments in laser technology and patient comfort in recent years, many are turning to LHR rather than its time-consuming alternatives. Candidates should be aware that LHR is not permanent hair removal, but permanent reduction of hair growth, most doctors seeing an 80-90 percent reduction with dark hair.
If considering LHR, schedule a preoperative consultation with an experienced doctor or practitioner and ask questions. The procedure has been successfully performed on millions of patients, and just may be the smooth solution for you.
SMOOTH OPERATORS IN OUR AREA:
Premier Laser Center
Roseville Laser Hair Reduction Center
Plastic Surgery Associates
Vibrance Medical Spa
Nuance Cosmetic Surgery
SKINovative Laser Center
Vitality Medical Clinic
Dignity Medical Aesthetics
Cosmetic Dermatology Center
MAI Medical Aesthetics
Advanced Medical Spa