Posts Tagged ‘hair removal’
If you are considering laser hair removal, you should know how many treatments you will truly need, and what type of a financial investment you will be making. I want to explain how many treatments you may need and why, so that you can make a more informed decision before you invest in laser hair removal.
I have people come in to our clinic after they have had a series of laser hair removal treatments at another clinic, and they are disappointed because they think it didn’t work. The problem is that many laser technicians will over promise and under deliver. The common misconception is that you will only need (let’s say 5) treatments. I don’t care what “they” tell you, this is almost never true! Don’t be surprised if you are told that “they” have the most effective laser on the planet and they can give you better results with only a few treatments. Maybe you will be told that you are perfect candidate, so you will need less than other people. If you buy this, I have a bridge to sell you. I do think that some technologies are more effective than others, however, even with the best technique and most effective equipment, you will still need several treatments. Even if you are the most ideal candidate in the entire world, you will still need several treatments.
Growth Cycle of Hair
Hair follicles go through a cycle of activity commonly refered to as the hair growth cycle. Each active hair follicle will continuously cycle through three phase of growth ( anagen, catagen and telogen). It is also important to understand that each hair follicle acts independently, so not all of the hair is in the same stage of growth at the same time. This is why it is necessary to have a series of laser hair removal treatments, scheduled at specific intervals.
Anagen Stage- Active Growing Stage
Catagen Stage – A Brief Transitional Stage
Telogen Stage – Resting Stage ( hair sheds at end of telogen stage)
With laser hair removal we are most concerned with hair in the anagen stage, because this is when the hair is at it’s maximum depth. The laser energy is absorbed by the melanin or water in the hair and we need to deliver the energy to the maximum depth of the follicle. This means that hair in the catagen or telogen stages of growth may singe and fall out with treatment, but they are not at thier maximum size or depth so they will likely grow back. So…. to reiterate, hair that is in the anagen stage of growth responds the best to laser hair removal.
The length of each cycle will depend on the region of the body, it will also vary from person-to-person and from time-to- time. Unfortunatly, in most areas the number of telogen hairs out number the amount of anagen hairs. For example the axillae (under arm) area is estimated to have about 70% of the hair in a telogen stage and the telogen stage in this area typically lasts for about 3 months. Again, this is not an exact science because there are several variables with the growth of hair and each idividual hair acts indepentaly. This means that the best you can hope for in this area is about 20% reduction per treatment and if by some sort of miracle your personal cycle of hair growth corasponds perfectly with your scheduled treatments you can complete your hair removal process with 5 treatments. However… you probably have a better chance of getting struck by lightining.
We all are born with a certain amount of hair follicals which do not increase with age, however the activity of the follicles do increase. We all have many, many potential hair follicles. Potential follicals are dormant hair follicles that are not active (currently producing a hair), but have the ability to produce a hair if stimulated by the appropriate hormone. Trust me when I tell you that you will likely see new hairs pop up in areas that you have never had them before. This is important to understand because laser hair removal only effects hair follicles that have a hair in the follicle at the time of treatment. Laser hair removal treatments can not prevent potential follicals from having the ability to produce a hair in the future. This is another reason that everyone needs to plan on having maintanance treatments after the intial series of treatments.
How Many Hair Removal Treatments Will I Need?
An initial series of treatments are necessary and occasional maintenance treatments are almost always needed after the initial series. For facial areas, you should expect to do an initial series of 12 treatments (once a month for a year). For body areas, you should expect to do an initial series of 8 treatments (scheduled about 6-8 weeks apart over a year).
There is no way to predict exactly how many maintenance treatments you will need. Some people need one every year or so, while others require several treatments for several years. This is due mostly to genetics and hormones, however other factors include technique, technology, and patient compliance. There are some things you can do to help improve your results. Keep your treatments on the appropriate schedule, avoid tanning, search for an experienced laser technician and a reputable clinic that is known to use better equipment. Do not wax, tweeze, or remove the hair from the follicle before or between treatments. If you have excessive hair growth, you should consult with your doctor to address any medial conditions that may contribute to hair growth.
Questions you should ask before you pay
Who will be performing your treatment?
Will you always see the same person or will you have somebody new each time? Do they have the appropriate certification and training, how long have they been doing laser hair removal and how long have they been at that specific clinic ?
Who is the medical director?
Are you having treatment in a medical practice or a med spa ? What are the credentials of the medical director ? Is it a Nurse, Dermatologist, Plastic Surgeon, Chiropractor, Dentist, Veterinarian? Is the medical director on site? How often are they in the office and are they available to see you if you experience a complication?
What is available for pain management?
Yes, laser hair removal hurts. The good news is that we can do things to help. Usually, we will apply a topical numbing cream before treatment, and in our clinic we use a proprietary formula that is extremely effective. I have a few other tricks that I will not share.
How much will it cost?
Many med spas have tricky packages or “plans”. Find out how many treatments are included in your package and how you are expected to pay. Do you need to pay for a full package all up front, or can you make payments? How much will additional treatments cost after your initial series? Is there a discount? Do you need to buy another package or can you pay as you go? If you are offered some sort of contract or membership, be careful, and be sure to read between the lines! You should also be warned that it is not uncommon for a med-spa to go out of business, and not tell clients or employees. You may show up one day with the doors locked, and, if you prepaid for a package, you can kiss your money good-bye.
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Hollywood bombshells Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor are said to have shaved their face. Shaving offers more benefits than hair removal, it is an excellent form of exfoliation, especially when done professionally. Dermaplaning treatments are popular among Hollywood A-Listers
Dermaplaning also known as epidermal leveling, microplaning or bladeing, is a gentle form of manual exfoliation. A surgical blade is used to gently scrape facial skin removing the outer most layers of dead skin cells as well as fine facial hair, leaving skin completely smooth and baby soft. Exfoliating the skin stimulates the production of new skin and allows for better absorption of topical skin products. Dermaplaning can be done as an independent treatment or used to enhance other treatments such as chemical peels.
Dermaplaning is completely painless in-fact most people say it feels good and there is absolutely no down time. Treatments only take about 30 minuets and regular blading treatments are scheduled about 3-4 weeks apart.
How does the hair grow back?
Despite popular belief, the hair does not grow back thicker. Fine facial hair is known as Vellous hair and when it is shaved, cut or removed it grows back the same way. If there is any dark, coarse facial hair present, I usually recommend laser hair removal. Dermaplaning can be used to remove coarse facial hair, but keep in mind that it will grow back the same way.
What if I have acne?
I don’t recommend dermaplaning for acne skin. Acne begins in the hair follicle and when the hair is removed it can aggravate or stimulate acne breakouts. Microdermabrasion is another form of manual exfoliation, and it is more appropriate for acne prone skin.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is used in photo-rejuvenation for the skin and hair removal treatments. Broad Band Light (BBL) is essentially the same thing as IPL and is used in the same way. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is not actually a laser. IPL emits a non coherent, broad spectrum light, rather than a monochromatic single wavelength like a laser. Basically lasers have one wavelength ( for example: 800nm) with a very specific target, and IPL uses a wide spectrum of wavelengths at the same time (for example: 500nm — 1200nm) that can target any chromophore in that range. You can think of the laser like a sniper that can precisely hit a single target with one shot, and IPL is like a grenade that hits several targets at once.
IPL uses special filters that block unwanted wavelengths. The filters can be changed to “cut off” the shorter wavelengths. The appropriate filter will depend on the depth of the intended target.
The cut off for the wavelength at the deeper end is predetermined, but can vary with each devise.
For example: Lumenis One has a wavelength of 515 – 1200nm,
and has 7 filters: 515, 560, 590,615, 640,695, and 755.
The 515 filter would block out wavelengths above and below 515nm – 1200nm, while the 560 filter would block out wavelengths above and below 560 -1200nm. The deeper wavelength, in this case 1200nm remains the same, while the “cut-off” filter can be changed to block out specific shorter wavelengths.
Each devises may use different wavelengths.
Sciton BBl: 420 -1400nm
Lumenis One: 515-1200nm
iPulse 1200: 530 – 1200nm
LimeLight: 520 – 1100nm
Cynergy XPL: 560 -950nm
IPL is well absorbed by chromophores that have color such as melanin, hemoglobin. The concentration of a specific chromophore peaks at different depths in the skin. The filter used in treatment is decided based on the depth of a desired target and the color of skin. A deeper cut off filter would be used for hair removal, while a shallow filter would be used when treating vascular issues such as rosacea. It is important to remember that IPL targets color in the skin, so tanning must be avoided before treatment. Patients with darker skin should seek treatment from someone experienced in treating their skin type, to avoid complications. IPL treatments can provide beautiful results, but can also cause serious burns. It is the patients responsibility to choose an experienced professional, be honest about sun exposure and follow all pre and post treatment instructions.
There are many variables involved in aesthetic lasers, including the active laser medium, wavelength, and targeted chromophore. Aesthetic lasers can be ablative, non-ablative or fractional. There are also other (non-laser) technology based treatments used in aesthetics such as Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and Radio Frequency (RF).
The term “laser” originated as an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. A laser generates a beam of very intense light. The light emitted by a laser is monochromatic, coherent and collimated.
Monochromatic – the light is of a single wavelength
Coherent - the light beam waves are in the same phase
Collimated - the light beams travel in parallel, all are parallel to each other.
Active Laser Medium Types
The lasing medium is the source of optical gain within a laser. The Active Lasers Medium can be a solid crystal, liquid dye, gas, or semiconductors.
Carbon dioxide (Co2) are gas lasers that are commonly used in aesthetic treatments.
Solid State Lasers
Generally, the active medium of a solid-state laser consists of a glass or crystalline material.
Solid state lasers include Ruby, Aexandrite and Erbium.
Semiconductor-based lasers are also in the solid state, but are considered as a separate class. Diode is a semiconductor based laser used in aesthetic treatments.
A dye laser is a laser which uses an organic dye as the lasing medium. A dye can usually be used for a much wider range of wavelengths which makes them suitable pulsed lasers. Pulsed Dye Lasers are used in aesthetic treatment.
Electromagnetic spectrum is the range of all possible wavelengths and frequencies. Wavelength is the distance over which the wave’s shape repeats ( peak to peak).Wavelenghths are measured in micrometers (microns) and nanometers (nm) Frequency is the number of oscillations per second, measured in hertz.
Energy is the amount of joules (J/cm) delivered. A laser technician adjusts the energy of each treatment, based on factors such as skin type and condition. The laser technician can also control other factors such as spot size and the length and duration of the pulse.
Lasers used in aesthetic treatments target a specific chromophore generally melanin, hemoglobin or water in the tissue. The targeted chromophore is determined by the wavelength. The concentration of a specific chromophore peaks at different depths in the skin. For example hemoglobin in the blood is best absorbed at a shallow wavelength and water is best absorbed at deep wavelengths. Melanin is best absorbed somewhere in the middle (500nm-1064nm), the exact depth can vary, depending on the desired target. For example if you are targeting pigment in the hair follicle a deeper wavelength (640nm-1064nm) would be used, however most lasers used for hair removal are Diodes (800nm-900nm).
Melanin and hemoglobin in blood vessels have color that absorbs the light emitted by specific lasers. Lasers that target color are usually used for hair removal, treating vascular issues such as rosacea and broken blood vessels, and skin discolorations such as freckels. Tanning is contraindicated with laser treatments that target color, tan skin will absorb more heat, increasing the probability of a burn. Tanning can also interfer with the desired results of treatment, because there is less contrast between the intended target and the surrounding tissue. Lasers that are used for hair removal target the color in the hair, so grey or blond hair will not respond well. (There are some lasers that claim to treat grey or light hair).
Water constitutes 80% or more of soft tissue, so lasers that target water are generly used for resurfacing. Lasers with deep wavelenghts such as Co2 or erbium lasers are strongly absorbed by water. The Smoothbeam laser is a 1450nm diode laser that targets water in the skin and is used to treat acne by shrinking the oil gland.
Argon 488 and 515 nm, is a gas laser that emits a blue green light which is strongly absorbed by both hemoglobin and water,used for photocoagulation. Argon lasers are rarely used for aesthetic or dermatologic treatments.
KTP 532 nm, a brilliant green light well absorbed by hemoglobin and melanin used photoablation and photocoagulation. The Iredex DioLite 532 nm KTP that is Diode Pumped, it is used to treat vascular lesions and hyperpigmentation.
Pulsed Dye: 577 -585nm, a yellow light that is well absorbed by hemoglobin in blood. Pulsed Dye Lasers (PDL) are especially useful for the treatment of vascular lesions, including spider veins, strawberry birthmarks and port wine stains.
Ruby 694 nm, uses a synthetic ruby crystal that emits red light that is strongly absorbed by blue and black pigment, and by melanin in skin and hair.
Ruby lasers are used for laser hair removal, tattoo removal and treating pigmented lesions including freckles, liver spots.
Alexandrite Laser 755nm, emits a deep red light and is absorbed by melanin. Alexandrite permits deeper penetration into skin than the ruby, and is used for Laser Hair Reduction.
Diode 800-900nm, emit near-infrared light. Diodes in the 800-900 nm range are absorbed by melanin and used for laser hair removal. The Smoothbeam uses a diode with a 1450nm, it targets water in the skin and is used to treat acne and build collagen.
Nd:YAG 1064nm, laser emits a near infrared beam that can be absorbed by all tissue chromophores, however it is strongly absorbed by hemoglobin. Nd:YAG lasers are used for photocoagulation and photoablation, commonly used to treat broken blood vessels.
Er:YAG 2940nm, emits a mid-infrared beam which has an absorption peak for water. Its used is to ablate tissue for cosmetic laser resurfacing. Also known as Erbium.
CO2 10,600nm, is a gas laser emitting a mid infrared beam which is strongly absorbed by water. Co2 lasers are capable of cutting or vaporizing tissue, and are used for deep laser resurfacing.
Ablative, Non-ablative an Fractional
Non-ablative lasers heat the layers of skin beneath the surface without removing the epidermis (top layer of skin).
Ablative procedures remove the epidermis. Carbon dioxide and Erbium lasers are ablative lasers used in aesthetic treatments. Ablative laser treatments are used for resurfacing, and leave skin raw.
Fractional lasers can be ablative or non-ablative treatments, and target only a fraction of skin at a time, leaving the surrounding tissue intact.
[ Read more on Fractional lasers ]
Some of the lasers used in aesthetic treatments:
Iredex DioLite – 532 nm KTP Diode Pumped – Non-Ablative
Candela Vbeam – 595nm Pulsed dye laser (PDL) – Non-Ablative
Candela GentleLASE – 755 nm Alexandrite – Non-Ablative
Lumenis LightSheer – 800nm Diode – Non-Ablative
Syneron eLaser / Comet – 810nm diode laser ( with RF) – Non-Ablative
Syneron Matrix IR – 915nm diode (with RF )- Non-Ablative/Fractional
Sciton Profile – Nd:YAG 1064 nm – Non-Ablative
Lumenis Multi-Spot – 1064 Nd:YAG – Non-Ablative
Candela GentleYAG – 1064nm Nd:YAG – Non-Ablative
Fraxel re:fine – 1410nm Erbium – Non-Ablative/Fractional
Cynosure Affirm – Nd:Yag 1440nm – Non-Ablative/Fractional
Candela Smoothbeam – 1450 nm diode laser – Non-Ablative
Fraxel re:store – 1500nm Erbium laser – Non-Ablative/ Fractional
Sciton Profile -2940nm Er:YAG – Ablative /(additional attachment to Profile base)
Sciton ProFractional – 2940 Er:YAG – Ablative/Fractional
Lumenis UltraPulse – 10,600nm Co2 – Ablative/ Fractional
Fraxel re:pair – 10,600nm Co2 laser – Ablative/ Fractional
Sometimes a little information can be a dangerous thing.
This is intended to help provide some very basic information of cosmetic / aesthetic lasers. There are many factors involved with laser aesthetic treatments and not everything can be included in this post. Aesthetic laser treatments can be complicated and should only be performed by a qualified and experienced technician.
Have you evolved?
Modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) have replaced primitive forms of hair removal with the more efficient laser hair removal.
Your not alone
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in 2009 alone, 159,000 men had laser hair removal treatments.
Laser hair removal requires a series of treatments, a minimum of 8 treatment is needed on non-facial areas such as the back. Treatments are generally done every 6-8 weeks. Most people will require periodic maintenance treatments, after the initial series of 8 treatments. You may be told that you will only need 5 treatments, this is almost never true. During a consultation you may be told that they use a laser that is “better” than others and they can remove your hair with fewer treatments. ( That is a BS) Laser hair removal is only effective on hair that is in the anogen stage of growth, regardless of the laser. You may only have only 10% of your hair that is in this cycle at any given time. Even if all of your hair falls out with a treatment, only the hair that was in the Anagen stage at the time of treatment will be permanently removed.
Laser hair removal feels similar to a hot rubber-band snap, so a topical numbing cream may be used to reduce discomfort.
Cost of treatment
A consultation is needed to determine the cost of treatment. Treatment cost is based on the size of the area to be treated, some men have only small patches of hair on their back and others are completely covered. Obviously a man that is 5’10″ and 150 lbs is going to have a smaller back than a man that is 6’3″ and 300 lbs.
It is important to go to a reputable laser technician, with plenty of experience with laser hair removal. It is tempting to go to discount laser chains, however a little on-line research will show that these places tend to have a lot of consumer complaints, including burns and disputes over money.