Have you ever wondered what it would be like to never have to shave, tweeze or wax a particular part of your body again? Laser treatments specifically intended for hair removal began about 10 years ago and since then have become very popular. There are several different types of lasers available and each are better suited for different types of skin and color of hair.
How they work:
Laser hair removal works by heating melanin (color pigment) in the hair which destroys the growing area in the hair follicle without damaging the surrounding skin. Laser hair removal works best on those with dark hair and light skin.
Laser hair removal can only affect the hairs in the active growth stage (anagen) so it may take 4-7 treatments to reduce the total amount of hair by 80-90%. Afterwards, one or two treatments a year may be needed for maintenance.
On average, it costs $350 dollars per an office treatment depending on the part of the body being treated and where you live. The face and neck are the most expensive and underarms are the least. Treatments are usually done monthly or every other month and you may shave in between sessions to remove interim hair growth.
Types of lasers
The three main types of lasers dermatologists use for hair removal are: the Alexandrite laser, the Diode laser and the Nd:YAG laser. The main difference between these lasers is the light wavelengths they emit. The alexandrite emits the shortest wavelength at 755 nm (nanometers), the diode emits 810 nm and the Nd:Yag is the longest at 1064 nm. In addition, a newer type of hair removal method called IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) is different from the above lasers in that it can emit light at multiple wavelengths.
The challenge of laser hair removal is getting the laser to only affect the melanin in the hair follicle and not harm the skin. Melanin absorbs light best at short wavelengths which is good for affecting the hair but the melanin in dark or tanned skin may also absorb the laser light and possibly be damaged. To avoid damaging darker skin, a longer wavelength laser like the Nd:Yag or IPL would be chosen by a trained practitioner.