Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal involves using laser technology to direct heat through the skin to the hair follicle, where it stops growth for a longer period of time. The laser is targeted towards the melanin pigment contained within the hair shaft. This type of hair removal is long lasting and large areas of skin can be treated at the same time.
During laser hair removal, targeting the hair shaft without damaging the melanin pigment in the surface of the skin is a delicate procedure. It is important for he laser light to be on long enough to heat the hair, but not too long to allow that heat to spread to the surrounding skin causing damage. In addition, the darker a patient’s skin, the more difficult it is to avoid injuring the surface of the skin while treating the hair. It works best on light-skinned people with dark hair because the melanin (colored pigment) in the hair absorbs more of the light, making treatment more effective. For this reason, there are different types of hair removal lasers that are used today, and depending on the thickness of the hair and the color of the skin, one laser may provide benefits as compared to another. Light skin makes laser hair removal easier to perform. Fewer treatments are required, and better, faster results are obtained. People with darker skin can be treated, but results are slower, more sessions are required, and greater expertise is required on the part of the laser center. Laser hair removal must be individualized for each patient.
The most common areas of the body for laser hair removal are the face, upper lip, neck, chest, periareolar, underarms, back, abdomen, bikini line, and legs.
Types of Lasers Used
There are several laser and laser-like devices currently used for hair removal. Some of the more common ones are detailed below:
The long-pulse alexandrite laser accomplishes deep penetration into the skin where the hair follicles are located. The heat build-up in the hair shafts disables those follicles in the active growth phase.
The diode laser is a very efficient device that contains small diodes or semiconductors that are arranged together to produce light. The diode laser has a longer wavelength than other lasers used for hair removal, which may improve treatment results on darker skin types.
- Light based sources
In many circumstances, intense pulsed light devices also operate on similar principles to lasers. Using the photoepilation process, the device offers a broad spectrum of light to treat a variety of hair and skin colors as well as hair depths.
Some of the commonly used light-based sources include:
- Q-Switched Nd:YAG: This laser delivers two different wavelengths of light. One is an invisible infrared light used for deeper penetration. This wavelength is used to reach deeper hair follicles. The other wavelength, a green light, is used for treating hair follicles closer to the surface. In both cases, the Q-switching device emits rapid bursts of laser light to the treatment site.
- Ruby: In this type of a light-based source, the red-colored beam seeks out the target melanin inside the hair shafts.
Number of Laser Removal Treatments
A series of three to five treatments are administered at four to eight week intervals depending upon the location of the hair. For many patients, three treatments may be enough to provide hair removal for many months. For others it may take more or less than three laser hair removal treatments. Following the initial series of treatments, subsequent treatments are administered, usually at longer and longer intervals. Some number of maintenance of treatments may be needed to keep all the hair away in a given area. After a single treatment, the hair in a given area is usually reduced in amount and thickness for a very long period of time. However, it may not be completely gone. To keep an area completely devoid of hair, maintenance treatments are always required. These maintenance treatments may eventually be required at only yearly intervals or even longer. This depends on the area being treated as well as the individual. As with any other traits in an individual, the frequency of maintenance treatments varies considerably from person to person.
Laser Hair Removal Cost, Prices
Laser hair removal isn't cheap. They can run from $250 to $1,000. However, they do last from about six months. The cost of a laser hair removal treatment varies depending on the area being treated, the physician performing the treatment, the number of treatments in a package, and other considerations. Since all individuals have their own unique pattern of hair growth, it is difficult to give a precise estimate of the number of treatments needed to completely eliminate your problem hair, or the exact cost of doing so. The safest approach is to set up a consultation with a physician in order to better understand prices for your particular case.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the national average cost for laser hair removal is $429. Fees within various cities may vary depending on whether the doctor's practice is in an urban, suburban or rural area. This fee only covers the doctor's costs, and does not include other miscellaneous costs.