Hair removal has been a point of discussion for decades. Unwanted hair doesn’t sound like much of a problem, but if you are a woman with dark hair on your upper lip and cheeks, it might bother you. A man with a pelt of hair on his back and neck might find it esthetically unpleasant. The same holds true for leg hair or other more intimate areas treated with waxing.
These are not new issues, and over the years numerous techniques have been in vogue for hair removal. All of them unpleasant, some downright painful.
Women have long suffered electrolysis, which, in addition to being painful, leaves an enlarged pore at the site of every hair follicle. Waxing, particularly bikini waxing, is a nail biter, and must be repeated frequently, and shaving or chemical depilation are old household methods.
But times have changed. The gold standard is now laser hair removal. With the newest technology discomfort is minimal, the procedure is fast, and almost permanent. The bad news is that it takes a series of treatments based on the growing cycle of hair, and there is no short cut. There are several laser and laser-related treatments that work.
Lasers generate energy in the form of heat. That heat is absorbed by the pigment in the hair and the follicle and they are destroyed — heat is better absorbed by dark colours, so dark hair is easily destroyed. Light hair less so, and blond hair is not at all a good target for laser treatment.
Intense Pulsed Light, or IPL, generates a broad spectrum of light, which is absorbed by dark targets. It’s attracted to dark hair, but “gets confused” if you have dark skin as well. The best combination for IPL is light skin and dark hair. IPL is older technology, but reasonably effective.
Lasers are easier to direct, faster and more effective. The types used are ND: Yag 1064 and Diode 808. ND: Yag 1064 develops more energy than necessary to destroy the hair, and has a higher incidence of side effect, like blistering. Skin types are graded from I, very fair, to VI, dark pigment. Lasers can be modified to treat most skin types. It is important to consult an expert to determine if you are the right candidate.
We tend to favour the Diode 808. It is far faster and very effective, though occasionally we use the other technologies.
Hair grows in cycles. Therefore, all hairs cannot be destroyed at the same time as some are in the resting phase, while others are visible. Additionally, despite our best efforts, all hairs are not eliminated at a session.
We advise patients that several sessions are necessary for each area to achieve optimal hair removal, and even then, some hairs will persist and need retreatment.
808nm Laser Hair Removal
The procedure is fast. An entire back, or leg, can be treated in 20 minutes. And it is a modern, effective way to deal with unwanted hair.
Gerald Imber M.D. is an internationally known plastic surgeon and anti-aging authority. Learn more at YouthCorridorClinic.com. Email your skin care questions to Dr. Imber at email@example.com.
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