Medical Minute: How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?

In the summertime in northern climates and all year round in southern climates, people look forward to laying by the pool and soaking in some sun. But this also involves waxing and shaving often sensitive areas of our bodies every few weeks and dealing with pain and razor bumps to look good in our swimsuits. Thankfully there are options for permanently reducing body hair through laser hair treatments. How does this work?

Our hair has color because of melanin. There are two types of Pheomelanin which is in red or blond hair and Eumelanin which is in brown or black hair. The hair follicles lie deep in the skin below the top skin layers know as the epidermis and dermis. Using surface cooling methods and lasers, it’s possible to treat the deep hair follicle bulb, injure it and thereby prevent future hair growth all while keeping the surface skin protected.

The hair cycles in growing, resting and dormant phases. The collection of hairs on our body are in different phases of these 3 cycles. Because of this, only 1/3 of hairs will be effectively treated during each laser treatment. The growth phase known as Anagen is the most responsive to laser hair removal, while the other cycles are less responsive. This is why it takes multiple treatments to get long term results from laser hair removal.

The procedure involves cleaning the area, applying safety glasses and moving the laser over the hair removal area. With numbing cream, it can feel at times like a rubber band being snapped on the skin. The treatment is effective in clearing 90% of hair when done in a series of treatments.

Historically laser hair removal was only appropriate for light skin individuals but using new laser technology with specific wavelengths of light, we can treat any skin type including dark-skinned patients with unwanted hair.

If you have facial or body hair that you’re tired of shaving, laser hair removal could be an option for you. You can contact our office for more information.