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Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal is a medical procedure that uses a concentrated beam of light (laser) to remove unwanted hair.

During laser hair removal, a laser emits a light that is absorbed by the pigment (melanin) in the hair. The light energy is converted to heat, which damages the tube-shaped sacs within the skin (hair follicles) that produce hairs. This damage inhibits or delays future hair growth.

Hair Growth

It is common for men and women to have unwanted pigmented hair. Many modalities have been used to try to remove the hair.

  • Shaving

  • Tweezing

  • Threading

  • Sugaring 

  • Waxing

  • Depilatories

  • Electrolysis

These methods have all been unsuccessful in removing hair with any permanence. Electrolysis is the only successful method performed that significantly removed unwanted hair permanently. Electrolysis requires multiple treatments and can be time consuming the most successful modality for removing hair is with a laser. Comparatively the laser requires fewer treatments than electrolysis. Also, larger areas require much less time than the electrolysis. Electrolysis can still be used to treat unwanted, non pigmented hairs as the laser will be unsuccessful in treating these.

Because of the cycles of hair growth (listed below), it is necessary to perform a series of treatments on an area. Usually after a series of treatments the area is mostly cleared of hair. Any few hairs that remain after the initial treatments are usually fine and thin. There are some patients who do not have any hair after that point but most people have very few. After the initial treatments at 4 to 8 week intervals, most people have maintenance every 3 to 4 months. A few people do experience little or no hair growth while in maintenance.

Cycles of Hair Growth

There are 3 stages of hair growth:

Anagen: The active growing stage

Catagen: The degenerating stage

Telogen: The resting stage

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Anagen hairs are actively growing. As the hair grows upward, the hair follicle grows downward. The most melanin is present during the anlagen phase. This phase of hair growth is most susceptible to laser treatments.

The Catagen stage is a transitional stage. This phase is also referred to as the regression or atrophy phase. Melanin production and hair growth cease abruptly and nourishment is cut off.

The Telogen stage is a resting or dormant stage. There is no activity in the hair follicle. The hair will exfoliate or fall out during this stage. There is little or no melanin in the hair follicle during this stage. The bulb of the hair can survive laser treatments during this phase.

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