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Shaving, waxing, and depilatory creams are temporary hair removal methods that must be repeated on a frequent basis. Electrolysis is an invasive, painful process that involves inserting a needle into each hair follicle and delivering an electrical charge to destroy the hairs one at a time. The length of the treatment is undetermined and can cause damage to the surrounding skin structures, leaving scarring and dimpling of the skin.
In contrast, laser hair removal disables hundreds of hair follicles in less than one second and offers long-term stable reduction in the number of hairs re-growing after the treatment regime. Typically, 6 to 8 treatments are required, reducing hair growth by 70 to 90%; however, individual results vary depending on hair pigmentation, thickness, and hormonal factors. The hair that does grow back will be finer and lighter in color.
The length of the treatment may be a few minutes, (upper lip), to an hour or more depending on the size of the treatment area.
All body parts can be and are treated. Exceptions to this rule are the ears, eyelashes, and parts of the eyebrow as we must protect the eye at all times.
Hair grows in cycles: active and non-active, or dormant. Laser hair removal works by disabling hairs that are in the active growth cycles at the time of treatment. Hair follicles in their dormant phase have no hair shaft in them, or the hair is no longer in contact with the hair root. At any time, only 15 to 30% of the hair is actively growing. Therefore, more than one treatment is required once dormant follicles become active and to deal with follicles that were stunned but not killed by the previous treatments.
Because laser targets pigment, lasers work best on black or brown hair. Very light red or blonde hair may respond only partially. In these cases, a product called Meladine TM may be used, which will add pigment to the hair, allowing it to be lasered. For more information on meladine, see Creative Technologies Inc.
The Altus Coolglide is a new generation hair removal system that has a longer wavelength (1064 nanometers), allowing it to reach deeper hair roots, which may be 4 to 6 mm below the skin surface.
The Coolglide also allows greater fine-tuning enabling the operator to adjust the energy level and the duration of energy delivered. This is very important to treat all skin types including tanned and dark skin and to adjust for different body parts and body types.
The Coolglide is the only laser system that has a chilled tip, which cools the skin and protects it from thermal damage while the laser light is being delivered.
Most clients indicate that they feel far less pain with laser hair removal than with waxing, tweezing or electrolysis. Some people report no pain, while others report a tingling or snapping sensation. Clients may find it helpful to take an over the counter pain killer like acetaminophen or ibuprofen prior to treatment. Also, we use a topical anesthetic cream (5% lidocaine), which can be applied prior to lasering to help numb the treatment area. Some women may find they are more sensitive when they are premenstrual and may wish to avoid lasering at this time.
Immediately after treatment there will be redness on the skin and/or local swelling, which may last a few hours to a few days. In 2-4 cases per100, there may be an increase, or decrease in pigmentation of the treatment area. This usually resolves itself within several months. Blistering may occur but is exceptionally rare, (less that one in one hundred cases.) Laser hair removal does not cause cancer.
Within several days of treatment, there is a phenomenon in which the hair cast which has been carbonized by the laser will be shed from the hair follicle. It may seem that the hair is re-growing but it is not! These hair casts can easily be removed with tweezers. The body reabsorbs hair roots, which have been destroyed.
It is normal that some hairs may not fall out within 2-3 weeks. These will be treated in the next session.