Laser Hair Removal
Almost all of us have unwanted hair somewhere on our face or body. We shave and wax, put up with razor burn, cuts and nicks and the shocking sensation of having whole patches of hair ripped out at once. Of course it gets worse if the hair is in a, ahem, ‘delicate’ area. Then there’s the time commitment. Got a hot date? Good for you! Too bad about the hour you’ll spend removing the hair from your legs, underarms, bikini area, and upper lip as well as plucking unruly brows. And these are just the common areas. Some of you reading this are thinking, “I should be so lucky”. You know who you are. Fortunately, laser hair removal offers a permanent solution that can leave your skin baby-smooth – forever!
FDA approved since 1997, laser hair removal has now been around for over 20 years, and it’s seen many improvements in that time. Early treatments could cause burns, and couldn’t remove all the hair, no matter how many sessions you had. They also hurt! Today’s treatments are not only more effective, but much less uncomfortable. In fact, some patients report no pain whatsoever. At MagnifaSkin MedSpa in Wilmington, Delaware we use the revolutionary Aerolase LightPod Neo for contactless and virtually discomfort-free hair removal. More about that later.
Where Can I Have Hair Removed?
It’s easier to answer where you can’t! We can’t use the laser on your eyelids or very close to your eye. The laser light could easily damage your retina. We can permanently remove hair from literally anywhere else!
Without getting too personal, while popular media would have us believe that ladies only have unwanted hair on their legs and underarms, we know that isn’t true, don’t we? The fact is that a lot of us have hair in much more personal places, and we’d love to see it gone. We can help. And there’s no need to be embarrassed about getting hair removed from delicate areas. First, we do this all the time. You are definitely not alone. Second, some of us have had hair removed from these areas ourselves.
We get you.
Laser Hair Removal for Men
And what about men? From unwanted body hair to the hair that starts sprouting from your ears as you age, to simply having hair removed that you’re tired of shaving all the time, we get a lot of men in for laser hair removal as well. In fact, almost 20% of our laser hair removal patients are men. And yes, men get hair removed from ‘delicate’ areas as well.
Even if you’re not a fitness model with chiseled abs, that doesn’t mean you want back hair, chest hair, belly hair, butt hair, leg hair…and the list goes on. It doesn’t really matter where you want the hair removed from, we’ve likely had that request before. Since we know you’re wondering, men get permanent pubic hair removal too.
And gentlemen, we understand your frustration. For many of you, just as you’re getting unwanted hair on your body, you’re losing hair from your head. We can help with that too. Both Formula 82M and PRP Hair Restoration can give you back lost hair from your head while laser hair removal will get rid of that unwanted body hair.
Is Laser Hair Removal Really Permanent?
In a word, yes – but with some qualification. Laser hair removal works by killing the follicle at the root. It can do this because dark areas absorb more light than lighter colored areas. For this reason, laser hair removal works best on people with light colored skin and dark hair, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck if you’re not in that category. Advances in technology mean that the gap in color between the targeted hair and the skin is getting narrower all the time. Today we can successfully treat almost any combination of hair and skin color. You may have heard that permanent hair removal for people with dark skin and black hair was unachievable, but this is no longer the case. With the Aerolase Lightpod Neo, we can remove dark hair from dark-skinned individuals.
According to Wikipedia, “The primary principle behind laser hair removal is selective photothermolysis (SPTL), the matching of a specific wavelength of light and pulse duration to obtain optimal effect on a targeted tissue with minimal effect on surrounding tissue.” Sounds impressive, but what does it mean?
When laser light penetrates the skin, it gets converted to heat, but it doesn’t do so uniformly. Darker areas absorb more light, and heat up more as a result. The goal is to find a frequency and intensity of light that will destroy the follicle (which is darker than the surrounding skin because it contains more melanin) while leaving the surrounding skin undamaged.
The Aerolase Lightpod Neo: A Revolutionary New Contactless Laser
The Aerolase Lightpod Neo is an Nd: YAG laser. I know. That tells you nothing. An Nd:YAG laser delivers light in 650 microsecond pulses, and this turns out to be really important for virtually painless and effective laser hair removal. Our tissues have something called a ‘thermal relaxation time’. This is the time it takes for heat to dissipate to adjacent tissues. If you’ve had other types of laser hair removal, you may be familiar with the ‘rubber band’ analogy.
Older types of lasers delivered a sensation that could be very much likened to having a rubber band repeatedly snapped against your skin. This could be anywhere from merely uncomfortable to very painful, depending upon the area treated and the intensity of the laser. The rubber band sensation is really heat being transferred to tissues adjacent to the follicle. Your nervous system doesn’t know how to interpret this sensation, so it feels like being snapped with a rubber band, when what is actually happening is the nerves are being heated to a level that triggers a pain response.
650 microseconds is, well, really fast! Some people mistakenly think that a ‘microsecond’ is one/one thousandth of a second. Nope. It is one/one millionth! So 650 microseconds is unimaginably fast. The average eye blink takes 350,000 microseconds, and a finger snap 150,000 microseconds. So the laser pulse is so short there simply isn’t time for the heat to transfer from the follicle to surrounding tissues, while still being long enough to destroy the follicle.
Once the follicle is dead, your body will gradually break it up and flush it away. This means it is gone forever, and new hair can’t ever come back in that spot. In some areas, you may see hair seeming to come back after a period of years. This isn’t zombie hair follicles somehow coming back to life. It is follicles that were already there starting to produce darker, coarser hair, which is natural as we age. These follicles were likely dormant at the time of your original treatments and so were not destroyed. In these cases, further treatments would be required.
How Many Treatments Will I Need
Generally we recommend a minimum of six, and some patients and treatment areas may need more. This is not because the laser can’t destroy hair in one treatment, but rather because of the way our hair grows.
Hair grows in three phases; Anagen (the active stage), Catagen (transition phase), and Telogen (a resting phase). To make things even more confusing, the length of these phases is drastically different for the hair on our head compared to body hair. For example, the anagen phase, which is the active growth phase, lasts 3 – 7 years for head hair, but only four to six weeks for body hair. Hair is best targeted during the Anagen phase.
You probably know that you lose around 100 to 150 hairs per day. This is normal and healthy. These are hairs that have reached the Telogen phase. They fall out and are replaced by new hair as the follicle enters a new Anagen phase. If all of our follicles were on the same schedule, all of our hair would fall out at once. Yikes!
Because hair responds best to laser hair removal during the Anagen phase, each area has to be treated multiple times to catch the individual hairs when they are most vulnerable.
Will I Lose All the Hair?
Unfortunately, 100% laser hair removal has not yet been achieved. In most cases, 90 to 95 percent of the hair will be permanently removed and remaining hair may become lighter and finer. While this might not be what you wanted to hear, keep in mind that the majority of patients are very happy with the results. What percentage, you ask? We wish we could answer that. Believe it or not, despite our best efforts to find a recent, independent study of laser hair removal patient satisfaction, the most recent study seems to be from 2003 in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. Keeping in mind that the technology has advanced substantially since then, at that time 71% of patients reported being happy with the results. We’re certain that number is much higher today, but sadly no one has done a study on this in recent years.
In addition, virtually all patients reported being happier with laser hair removal than the main alternatives, waxing and electrolysis. So, is it perfect? Not yet. Is it better than the alternatives? Most people think so.
What To Expect During Treatment
Treatments with the Aerolase LightPod Neo are quick, contactless and virtually painless. Some patients report no discomfort whatsoever, and for those who do, it is generally minimal and very brief. You may also have heard that you’ll need to have a gel slathered on your skin before treatment. Not so with the Lightpod. The gel is used with contact lasers to prevent heat transference to the skin, but the Aerolase is contactless, so this step is unnecessary.
Treatments are spaced out according to the hair growth cycle, and this varies from one area of the body to another. For example, upper lip hairs have an average 4 to 6 week cycle, while leg hairs average 3 to 6 months. Expect maximum hair removal to require appointments spread over 1 to 2 years, however most patients will begin to notice a reduction in hair density a few weeks after the first treatment.
It is extremely important to complete your full treatment schedule and not to miss any appointments. Remember that the hair grows in cycles. In order to catch the maximum number of hairs at their vulnerable Anagen phase, regularly spaced treatments are necessary.
Preparation and Recovery
You should shave the area to be treated no more than 3 days prior to your appointment. This prevents hairs above the surface from absorbing and blocking the light, preventing it from reaching the follicle.
There is no significant recovery time and most patients report no skin irritation following a treatment. There is also a very low risk of side effects.
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