How does hair grow?
Hair follicles develop from a complex series of interactions between different elements of the skin. Interestingly, not all hairs are actively growing at the same time - they actually go through distinct phases: growth, regression, and resting. The duration of each phase is dependent on several factors, including body location. For example, at any one time, 90% of the hairs on our head are in their growth or Anagen phase, compared to only 70% of the hair on our arms. During the regression or Catagen phase, the surrounding skin begins to absorb the hair bulb. Finally, the hair enters the Telogen or resting phase, at the end of which the hair falls out and the follicle begins to cycle again.
What determines the distribution and appearance of body hair?
Age, ethnicity, medications, hormone levels, and body site influence the length, coarseness, and color of body hair. The amount and distribution of body hair is largely determined genetically. This may vary according to racial characteristics. How much hair you have depends upon how many hairs are in their active growth phase, and how long that phase lasts.
How has unwanted hair usually been removed?
In the past, various methods were used to remove unwanted hair. Each of the following traditional methods, while variably effective, have distinct disadvantages when compared to laser hair removal.
Shaving: Although a simple way to remove hair, shaving doesn’t affect the coarseness, thickness, growth rate, or cycle of unwanted hair. Shaving is only a transient solution and requires a constant commitment to maintaining a hair-free appearance.What is laser hair removal?
Tweezing: This is a tedious, painful, and impractical method for large areas.
Waxing: This procedure can cover a large area at one time and results may last a month or more, but it is painful and can often cause allergic reactions and inflammation of the hair follicle.
Electrolysis: This process involves inserting a needle into each individual hair follicle and applying an electric current. Expertly used, this can be successful in eliminating hair permanently. However, because you can treat only one hair follicle at a time, it is a tedious, time-consuming process. Electrolysis can sometimes lead to skin infections and scarring.
Laser hair removal is a method of removing unwanted hair, utilizing laser energy targeted to the hair follicle to cause thermal damage and prevent further hairs from growing. This technique was invented by a team of laser scientists from Wellman Laboratories of Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. The LightSheer Diode Laser System is the latest, state-of-the-art hair removal laser developed by this team of experts.
How does the LightSheer Diode System work?
The near-infrared laser light produced by the system passes through the skin’s surface and is preferentially absorbed by the pigment located in the hair follicle. The laser energy is absorbed by the hair follicle and converted into heat, which damages the hair’s ability to grow. The damaged hair root is then expelled or absorbed by the body. The duration of each pulse of laser light is just long enough to damage the hair follicle, while the system’s unique, patented contact-cooling hand-piece (the ChillTip) helps protect the skin by conductive cooling during the laser energy delivery.
Is it safe?
As with any medical treatment, use of the LightSheer Diode System can have some side effects. Fortunately, the side effects of this particular laser have been minor. The laser’s parameters were carefully defined by studying the anatomy of the hair follicle and precisely matching the color of laser light and the pulse duration to the size, depth, and location of the hair follicle. This research has resulted in a safe technique that effectively eliminates the risks of scarring and substantially reduces most other complications following treatment. In our experience this system is the safest, most effective hair removal laser available.
What are the advantages of using the LightSheer Laser for hair removal?
LightSheer hair removal has three advantages over older methods of epilation: comfort, speed, and accuracy. Since the system uses a unique cooling handpiece, it does not cause the kind of skin irritation that other methods may create. Since it is non-invasive (no needles to penetrate the skin), the risk of introducing bacteria into the skin is reduced. Because the system is fast, it allows for larger areas to be treated, considerably increasing the efficiency of the hair removal process. Finally, the LightSheer laser is a precise instrument that can be adjusted to the exact parameters that will disable only the follicle, minimally affecting the surrounding skin.
What types of hair can be treated?
Temporary hair loss almost always occurs after each laser treatment, regardless of hair color. However, the laser’s effectiveness for permanent hair reduction is strongly correlated with hair color. Darker hair is more effectively treated than light hair. Blonde or white-haired patients are unlikely to experience permanent reduction in hair, but hair loss in these patients can be maintained if desired, by treatment at approximately three-month intervals.
How long does the procedure take?
Each pulse of laser energy from the LightSheer Diode System will treat a square area of skin of approximately three-eighths of an inch (9 mm). For this reason, the amount of time required depends upon the size of the area requiring treatment. For example, the upper lip and bikini line may require only 5-15 minutes of treatment, while a longer period of time will be required to treat the back or legs.
How many treatments are necessary?
Laser hair removal works by disabling hairs that are in their active growth (Anagen) phase at the time of treatment. Since other hairs will enter the growth phase at different times, several treatments are necessary to disable all hair follicles in a given area.
Will the treated hair come back?
Following a single treatment, most hairs do not regrow for one to three months (or more), depending upon the type of hair and its location. Because the laser only treats hair follicles that are actively growing, several treatments are necessary. Following multiple, appropriately timed treatments, a long term growth delay is typically seen. Many patients obtain permanent hair removal, but some people require periodic touch-up treatments to keep unwanted hair away. Following several treatments, any remaining hair is much finer, lighter, and more cosmetically acceptable than prior to treatment.
Is it painful?
No treatment to remove unwanted hair is completely painless. Patients who have undergone repeated waxing or hours of electrolysis can attest to the pain caused by commonly used methods of epilation. The LightSheer Diode System is fast, which reduces treatment time. It provides long-lasting hair removal, reducing the need for repeated treated. The ChillTip cooling lens helps reduce discomfort while protecting the skin’s surface from thermal injury during delivery of each pulse of the laser light. Treatments may feel like a rubber band snapping the skin with a temporary stinging sensation for a few moments afterward, but most people tolerate the procedure well. If large or sensitive areas with unwanted hair are to be treated, a topical anesthetic cream may be applied to the site to further reduce any discomfort.
What will the treated area look like after the procedure?
Immediately after treatment, the area will be somewhat swollen, appearing slightly red in color and will feel like a mild sunburn. This reaction subsides over a few hours, and then the treated sites usually return to their normal appearance. The amount of discomfort after this procedure is usually minimal and does not limit most normal physical activities. Since light is used to remove the hair, there is no bleeding and no open wound is created. For this reason there is no need to apply a bandage and wound care is generally not required.
Are there any side effects?
Usually the treated area has only a temporary redness which disappears quickly. Occasionally, swelling or bruising, and infrequently a blister may appear. In rare cases, the treated area may heal with a temporary light or dark coloration which disappears after several weeks. Scarring or permanent skin discoloration is remotely possible, but fortunately is extremely rare.
Are there restrictions after treatment?
Normal activities can be resumed immediately after treatment. All treated areas should be protected from sunlight between treatments and for several weeks after the final treatment. Makeup and self-tanning creams may be used as desired.
Who will perform the laser treatment?
Dr. Williamson’s certified laser specialist performs the LightSheer treatments in our office.
How much does the LightSheer treatment cost and will my insurance cover it?
The cost of treatment varies, depending primarily upon the size of the area you wish to have treated. At the time of your free consultation, we will be happy to give you an estimate as to the cost of the procedure. Laser hair removal is considered cosmetic in the vast majority of cases and is not covered by insurance. Package discounts and financing are available.