Laser Hair Treatment

Understanding Laser Treatment

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The light emitted by the laser is absorbed by the pigment located in hair follicles. The light pulses for a fraction of a second, just long enough to vapourize the pigment, disabling several follicles at a time to eliminate or significantly impede the hair’s growth. Importantly, a special contact-cooling hand piece protects the skin surrounding the hair root during treatment. Our lasers state-of-the-art technology is the world’s most advanced treatment for effective removal of unwanted hair. All skin types can be safely treated. It has been approved for permanent hair reduction by the FDA.

Understanding Hair Removal

Hair grows in cycles, and many factors influence its growth. Age, ethnicity, medications, hormone levels, and even body site all influence the length, coarseness, and colour of body hair. How much hair you have depends on how many hairs are in their active growth cycle and how long that cycle lasts. During any one time, 90% of the hairs on your head will be in their active growth phase, and only 10% will be in their resting phase. For scalp hair, the growth period can be as long as 7 years, while the resting period is usually only 2-4 months.

On the other hand, the hand, the hairs on your arms have an active growth cycle of only 1 – 3 months before they revert to a resting phase. At any one time, only 70% of those hairs may be growing. That is why the hair on your scalp can grow so much longer than the hair on other parts of your body.

Anagen is the hair’s active growth phase. During anagen, the hair contains an abundance of melanin (pigment).
Catagen is the regression phase when the lower part of the hair stops growing but is not shed, and the follicle is reabsorbed. Telogen is the resting phase. During telogen, the old hair falls out in preparation for the development of new hair. In the past, the usual remedies for unwanted hair were plucking, shaving, waxing, or chemical depilatories. Some are painful, some messy, and all are only temporary.

What Are The Main Advantages of the Laser System?

There are three main advantages to laser hair removal technology – comfort, speed, and accuracy. The laser uses a unique cooling hand piece which avoids the kind of skin irritation that other methods may create. Groups of hair follicles are treated in rapidly successive pulses which allow large areas to be treated in a much more efficient manner than was previously possible. Finally, the Lightsheer is a precise instrument that can be adjusted to the exact parameters that will disable only the hair follicle, minimally affecting the surrounding skin.

Does it hurt?

The laser only emits infrared light. You may feel a tingling sensation, but most people tolerate the procedure well. Some areas of the body are more sensitive than others.

Your safety is our primary concern.

How Many Treatments Will I Need?

The laser works by disabling hairs that are principally in their active growth phase at the time of the 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. It usually involves 4-6 treatments over 1 to 1 ½ years for the body and 6-8 treatments for facial areas (difference accounted for by the more rapid cycling of facial hair). Additional maintenance sessions may be required after that. In some situations (i.e., back hair in some males), a significant partial reduction in hair density and reduction in hair shaft thickness after one or only a few treatments may be all that is desired. The length of a laser session may be a few minutes to an hour or more, depending on the size of the area being treated. Larger areas such as legs and backs may be broken into smaller sections as per your comfort and time restrictions.

What Happens After?

Within several minutes, the treated area may become slightly red and puffy and feel like a sunburn. Most people return to normal activity right away. Some people opt for cold compressing the area intermittently over the next few hours. This reaction subsides quickly and within a day or so the area returns to normal. There may be a residue of hair left in the follicle that appears as a dark spot.  Rarely, people may experience some brown scabbing or blistering. This is temporary and will resolve in a few days. An antibiotic cream (Fucidin or Bactroban) could be applied twice daily for 5-7 days and the area must be protected from the sun. Some people may require makeup to hide the redness, for facial areas only. Within the next 3-4 weeks the lasered hair is expelled from the follicles. It has a stubble-like appearance and you may shave it or loofah as necessary to keep the area tidy. Avoid rubbing the area vigorously for 4-5 days, however, and do not pluck. Hypopigmentation (lightening of the skin color) and hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin color) may be a temporary effect from the laser, more so for tanned or darker skinned patients. Once the hairs have been expelled you get temporary hair removal. This generally lasts 6 weeks for facial hair and up to 12 weeks for body hair. At these points in time a new lighter and finer re-growth signals that the area can be retreated.

The Potential Problems Are:

Prolonged redness – some skin types are more sensitive and the red may last longer than 24 hours. In most, it has resolved by 3 days.
Pimples (whiteheads) – may appear in the treated area. There is no harm and they will dry up and disappear in a week.
Hypopigmentation (lightening of the skin) – uncommon – Avoid by not having a tan. Usual skin color returns in 3-6 months for 90% of affected individuals
Hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) – uncommon – UseSun block > 30 spf for 4 weeks after treatment during the sunny months of the year (May to October) and during sun holidays if they fall within those 4 weeks. Darker skin types are at a higher risk. A test spot in the darkest skin types may be prudent.
Tiny superficial blisters – less than 10% – occur at 2-3 days after treatment. Not painful, they appear as small brown marks and usually fade in 2-3 weeks.
Non-responding – uncommon, but generally, if it happens it occurs mostly in females with facial hair and a hormone imbalance. Ask your doctor whether hormone lab tests and additional treatments are indicated. Body hair not usually affected unless hair color is too light (light blond, white, gray) or too fine. The latter groups have insufficient pigment in hair follicles to absorb the laser light. Some non-responders may respond to electrolysis. On the other hand, individuals that do not respond to electrolysis may do well with hair laser removal.

Laser Safety

Lasers have been used in surgery for over 20 years. In experienced hands and with approved eye protection, they are safe.

Pre- and Post-Treatment Instructions and Information

Before starting treatments

  • Do not remove hair with creams, waxing, or plucking for 4-6 weeks.
  • Shave to maintain the area to be treated and the day before or of treatment.

On the day of treatment

  • Wear loose fitting, comfortable, and washable clothing.
  • If you are having a bikini or leg area treated, a bathing suit or baggy shorts may be worn.
  • You will be required to sign a consent form.
  • Photographs may be taken before treatment to record hair density.

After treatment

  • The redness, swelling, and “sunburned feeling” may last a few days. Tylenol may be taken. Avoid perfumes, strong soap (unscented Spectrojel is recommended) and make-up on treated areas until the stinging has subsided.
  • Our staff is available to answer any questions or concerns.
  • Protect the treated area from sun exposure for at least 4(up to 8) weeks using a sunscreen during the sunny months of the year (May to October) and sun holidays.