Hair removal laser

Principle

Hair removal lasers emit an invisible light beam that aims at a selective target: the melanin brown pigment contained into the hair follicle. The light beam passes through the skin superficial layer without damaging it and transfers its energy towards the hair root. This heat production will destroy the hair follicle, this destruction is progressive and occurs after a few sessions.

Several types of Lasers used at the Dermatological Laser Centre

  • Long Pulse Alexandrite Laser, 755 nm wave length
    • Alexandrite Gentle Laser by Candela
    • Alexandrite Cynosure Apogea 9300
  • Nd Yag Long Pulse Laser by Cabdela, 1064 nm wave length

The phototype, that is the skin colour and the implantation depth level of certain hair, determines the choice of laser type.

Indications for laser hair removal

Any paradoxal cosmetic or pathological (=hirsutism) hyper distribution of hair may benefit from the hair removal laser treatment. In case of spread hirsutism, it is advised to perform a hormonal check up together with the hair removal treatment. Sometimes, it is required to follow a specific medical treatment.

Cosmetic indications are the most frequent and may be applied to the face, armpits, bikini line and legs.

Ingrown hair, wax/shaving post hair removal ‘folliculitis’ are very good indications.

Contra - Indications

White or blond hair are considered transparent for the laser beam. Therefore they cannot not be treated. Pigmented, black, dark or tanned skins must be treated cautiously. It is necessary to adapt the laser beam level in order for the skin not to be burnt. The Dermatological Laser Centre owns a specific laser for dark skins.

Laser treatment is not allowed in the following situations: recently tanned skin, use of betacarotene tanning medication, use of fake tan and natural tan lotion. In case the patient takes certain photosensibilising medication such as antibiotics, pain killers, neuroleptics, he/she should inform the dermatologist.

Pregnant women are not treated for safety reasons.

As for the right age to follow the treatment, it is recommended to wait after puberty. Before puberty, there are many hormonal variations and hair is too thin.

Treatment procedure

Before starting the treatment, an interview between the dermatologist and the patient is scheduled. The practitioner will identify and define with precision the areas to be treated. For instance, a face treatment may imply the upper lip, the peri oral area or the entire face. Other areas may be treated such as armpits, bikini line, legs, arms, nape.
The surface to be treated will be covered with light impacts taking the shape of 2 cm² spots. The session length varies. It may last a few minutes up to 45 minutes according to the size of the area treated.

It is recommended to avoid hair-removing procedures (wax, hair bleaching cream, epilating forceps ) within the 4 weeks preceding each session. For large surfaces, it is advised to shave hair 3 days before the treatment in order to limit laser thermal effects on the skin, by surface beam absorption.

The session might be slightly painful. Sensitivity varies according to the patients and the areas to be treated. In case of high sensitivity, topical anesthesia cream may be used 1 hour before the session.

The immediate effect of laser impact is a sensation of heat, reddish coloration of the area impacted and discrete hair basis expansion. These effects last from 15 minutes to several hours.

A large amount of hair is being removed during the session. Some residual hair may require a period of 5 to 10 days after the session to fall.

Moisturizing cream is applied on the treated area after the session and for 2 or 3 days after treatment. Sunblock is equally recommended for about 10 days.

The session amount and frequency varies according to the areas treated. The in-between session period depends on the hair growth speed, that is the follicle cycle length for each area. The interval between the first 3 sessions is usually 4 to 8 weeks. The follow up treatment is then defined according to the patient specific follicle cycle length. Bikini line treatments require 4 to 5 sessions on average. Leg treatments require 3 to 4 sessions on average.

Risks and Complications

Complications such as burning effects or infections are rare. Scars are exceptional. Small temporary scabs might appear and will disappear within a few days without leaving marks.

Pigmentation disorder such as hyper-pigmentation (skin darker than usual) or hypo-pigmentation (skin whiter than usual) most often occur with dark skins. Pigmentation disorder may persist 1 up to 3 months, but usually proves to be transitory.

Hair removal laser remains a very safe treatment. The lasers used at the Dermatological Centre enable us to minimise the possible side effects, namely for dark skins.

Paradoxal hyper distribution of hair or regrowth is a complication that seldom occurs. Nevertheless, it has been detected in some cases on the neck and the cheeks for women, on the back for men.

Results

Repeated laser sessions make the hair amount and diametre diminish and decelerate the hair growth cycle. Depending on the areas treated, after 4 to 10 sessions, 80 to 90% of treated hair will not grow back. There may remain thiner and whiter hair which might require a follow up treatment once a year. Dark hair with white skin usually give the best results. Thin hair such as the upper lip hair layer is not a good application.

Hair removal for men gives out variable results and does neither prove complete nor definitive even after several sessions on the same area. Nevertheless, there is a significative hair density and diameter diminution which grant good comfort for the patients.

beforeafter