The laser emits a light with a single wavelength. The energy of this single-wavelength light is absorbed only by a substance called a chromophore. Every wavelength has a chromophore. In the case of the laser used for hair removal, the chromophore is brown pigment. Therefore, areas of skin with little or no brown pigment absorb no energy and therefore are unaffected by the laser beam. Hair follicles in the inactive phase also do not absorb the laser energy. Anything with brown pigment, including the active follicle of a brown hair, does absorb the energy. When this happens, the follicle sustains an injury which throws it into dormancy (inactive phase) for several months or, even better, destroys it.
As you would expect, the laser is most effective on dark hair and light skin. It is moderately effective on golden hair. It is ineffective on gray or white hair. Skin with a lot of pigment absorbs the laser energy too. This is why individuals with dark or tanned skin do not make good candidates for laser hair removal.
Numbing anesthetic gel is applied to the area(s) to be treated. Absorption of the gel can take up to an hour, so patients are advised to bring something to read. The laser treatment is then performed, and each session takes up to an hour, depending on the size and number of areas to be treated. We usually recommend five to seven treatments for near complete, near permanent removal of hair.
Multiple treatments are necessary because, as mentioned above, the laser works only on those hair follicles in the active phase, and, at any given time, only 30-60 % of hairs are in the active phase. Treatments must be spread out by at least three weeks, in order to give inactive hair follicles time to become active.
Redness of the treated areas usually lasts for several hours. During this time, ice packs may be applied intermittently or cold water packs continuously.
Our fourteen-year experience with laser hair removal has convinced us that there is no such thing as permanent hair removal. However, after several treatment of laser hair removal, most patients need to shave the treated area(s) very infrequently, twice a year.
Contact us today to schedule your laser hair removal appointment!