Laser hair removal is the use of a laser to physically remove or reduce hair from regrowing. Since hair grows at different times, hair removal takes several sessions for complete reduction.
Science of Laser Hair Removal
Hair removal has been in practice, whether be for hygiene or fashionable purposes, for many years; even going as far back as the Ancient Egyptians. And as civilizations advanced, so has the science and tools in which they use, some of which are still being used today. However, society still yearned for better techniques to help achieve that “flawless” appearance. Laser Hair Removal is that step towards that smoother skin.
Laser hair removal involves specifically targeting the hair with various specific wavelengths of light. This differentiates from ‘electrolysis’ where the aforementioned takes on individual hair follicles as opposed to the pigmentation. Laser hair removal has been only available since the mid-1990s, but like all technology, is advancing to suit different types of individuals.
- Science of Laser Hair Removal
- How does LASER hair removal work?
- Types of LASERS for Hair Removal
- Laser Hair Removal by Ethnicity
- Female LASER Hair Removal
- Male LASER Hair Removal
- Preparing For LASER Hair Removal
- Am I a candidate for Laser Hair Removal
- ARTICLES BY DR. SHAH
- Frequently Asked Questions
- About Us
We want laser hair removal to be safe, comfortable, and effective. After years of research we have found the best device on the market: The Diolaze by InMode. Our team of trained aestheticians all use world class laser devices to help patients have superior results than lesser quality lasers. Our laser uses advanced cooling technology making it comfortable and more effective than other devices.
How does LASER hair removal work?
Laser hair removal works by selectively targeting melanin in the area of the hair follicle. Melanin gives color to the hair with eumelanin providing black or brown color and pheomelanin giving blonde and red color. Also known as “Selective Photothermolysis”, the Laser is calibrated to target the concentrated melanin in the hair bulbs. This is why Laser hair removal only works on darker hair follicles. Patients with blonde, red or gray hair are often not ideal candidates for LASER hair removal. Electrolysis for this type of patient might be the best route, at this time.
Types of LASERS for Hair Removal
There are essentially only 4 types of Laser hair removal Lasers available today: IPL, alexandrite, diode, and Nd:YaG lasers. Each Laser has its own pros and cons in regards to its efficacy. Our practice does prefer to use Diode Lasers due to their speed and comfort for the patient and is often the most effective wavelength type that requires the least amount of treatments.
What type of LASER does Aesthetic Skin utilize?
We utilize a diode laser with a cooling tip. A diode laser is the industry standard for optimal Laser hair removal.
Laser Hair Removal by Ethnicity
- Middle Eastern
- Hispanic Hair Removal
Many patients of hispanic origin desire laser hair removal. Chicago has a large and growing hispanic population. Patients of hispanic background such as Mexican, Puerto Rican, Guatamealan have such a diverse pigmenation that they may need a specialized type of laser to help them safely remove hair with a laser. Our laser has the latest in cooling technology which makes laser hair removal much more comfortable than other lasers, safer,and more effective. Many of our patients can see permanent reduction in 1-4 sessions.
Female LASER Hair Removal
Female hair growth is different from male hair growth. Female may have specific areas and concerns distinct from male hair removal.
HAIR REMOVAL FOR WOMEN
Women typically desire laser hair removal from all over their body and face including the underarm area, bikini area, legs and face. LASER hair removal requires multiple lasering sessions since the laser only targets hair in the anagen phase.
Areas of Treatment
Women’s Facial Hair
Women’s facial hair can be a nuisance. While bleaching and waxing can be helpful, they can cause irritation to the skin. LASER hair removal can be more effective of treating the area. The LASER often can treat this hormonally responsive area and it may require multiple treatments.
Women’s Axilla or Armpit
The underarm area is often exposed with dresses and shirts. While shaving and waxing are the most common areas of treatment, the remaining stubble can be evident and sometimes irritating. The use of the LASER can help create a smoother underarm area which can help diminish the shadow created with stubble. In addition, underarm hair can carry odor and many patients describe less issues with underarm perspiration.
Smooth legs are often desired. Waxing and shaving can help decrease hair but can create stubble which can decrease the smoothness of the leg. A Laser can be beneficial in creating a leg which is smooth and hairless and is often one of the most effective areas to treat with a laser.
Women’s Bikini Area
Dresses, shorts and bikinis are often more revealing than in past years. Shaving can be difficult for some as it can promote irritation. Laser resurfacing here can help create a smoother appearance.
Male LASER Hair Removal
Men’s hair growth is different from female. Men also have specific needs for hair growth.
HAIR REMOVAL FOR MEN
Men typically desire LASER hair removal for their body. The most common areas of removal include the back, chest, stomach and arms. In addition, some men desire laser hair removal of their legs (especially swimmers, runners and bikers), face (typically, the upper cheek area), the nasal hairs and the “mankini” area, as well.
Typically, LASER hair removal require multiple sessions to achieve permanent hair reduction. The reason for multiple sessions is that hair grows through multiple phases and LASER hair removal only targets hair in the anagen phase, the period of growth where the hair is it a thickest.
Areas of Removal
Facial Hair Removal
Men sometimes desire of hair on the face. In particular, the upper cheek of the face can be helpful to remove to avoid a stubbly look and help create a more refined smoother appearance of the skin.
Nasal Hair Removal
While nasal hairs serve a role in filtering debris, their appearance can be unsightly. Plucking of nasal hairs can be dangerous and lead to ingrown hairs. Laser hair removal can effectively eliminate hair.
Chest Hair Removal
Chest hair can be desirable or undesirable depending on the preference of the male or his partner. While some patient’s enjoy hair along the chest, a “cleaner” look is still the preference for many males, especially those in the fitness industry.
‘Mankini’ Hair Removal
Men sometimes desire to have hair removed from the “mankini” area. This can be for a multitude of reasons. Shaving in this area can be sensitive and Laser hair removal can help create a more permanent reduction of hair in this area.
Men’s Back Area
The men’s back can be a source of issue especially at the beach. While a hairy chest can sometimes be considered desirable, a hairy back is typically thought of as not a positive image for men. Removal of back hair on a consistent basis with waxing and shaving can lead to ingrown hairs and be difficult for maintenance. Laser hair removal offers a permanent method of reducing hair.
Preparing For LASER Hair Removal
There are a few things to keep in mind when preparing for Laser Hair Removal treatment:
- Avoid getting a sun tan or using a sunless tanner for up to 6 weeks prior to treatment. Your skin should be as light as possible before treatment. Any tanning increases the risk of side effects, such as skin lightening.
- Refrain from plucking, waxing or electrolysis at least one month prior to treatment. These removal methods can disturb the hair follicle and the root must be present for the procedure in order for the laser to deliver the best results. Shaving is fine since it preserves the hair shaft and follicle. In fact, it is recommended that the area of treatment be shaved at least 24 hours before the procedure so that the laser does not target hair above skin, potentially causing burns.
- Always remember to consult a doctor or specialist to make sure this procedure is right for you.
Am I a candidate for Laser Hair Removal
- For Dark Skin Tones: The “ideal” type of person for Laser Hair Removal is someone who is light skin tones and dark-haired, which is one of the reasons to refrain from getting a tan before the procedure. In the early days of Laser Hair Removal, it was often discouraged for different ethnic groups that had darker skin tones to use this procedure due to the limited number of Laser lightwave lengths that were approved. These lightwave lengths had the potential to damage darker skin due to the lightwaves inability to safely target the melanin in the hair shafts. Today, however, thanks to the advances in the field, it is safer and more efficient to treat someone with a darker skin tone using different types of Lasers with various wavelengths and pulse widths.
- For Blonde / Gray Hair: Blonde hair can prove to be a challenge when it comes to using LASER Hair Removal. The Laser’s heat source is dependent on pigment, like that found in darker hair. Blonde hair lacks the pigment to attract the heat of the Laser. While there are some Lasers available to treat blonde or gray hair, it is still found to be unreliable. A recommended hair removal procedure for those with blonde or gray hair would be Electrolysis, since it attacks the hair follicle instead of pigments
ARTICLES BY DR. SHAH
- Everything you need to know about Laser Hair Removal in Chicago – A Conversation with our Laser Hair Removal Experts!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Laser Hair Removal permanent?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. The only permanent hair removal technique is Electrolysis. Laser Hair Removal reduces the amount of hair grown.
How many treatments am I going to need?
The answer may vary from patient to patient. Depending on the area being treated and how much hair growth the patient may have. Majority of patients will need at least 6 treatments.
Can African Americans get laser hair removal?
Yes, African American patients can get laser hair removal too! With laser hair removal the settings of the machine vary from patient’s skin type.
I have had laser hair removal treatments a few times now and noticed that the hair is growing in patches. Is this normal?
Yes. This is very normal and considered to be a positive thing. It means we have gotten rid of some of the hair follicles from growing back.
Do I have to shave before coming in for treatment?
Yes. I recommend the patient to be freshly shaved before his or her appointment. The hairs are at a thicker stage and is picked up easier with the laser.
Can I wax or tweeze my hairs before coming in?
No. When the hair is waxed or tweezed the hair follicles are no longer there, therefore doing laser will be a waste of time.
Can I go tanning before or after laser?
No. Laser hair removal is done with specific settings for specific skin types. If you are considered a skin type that is a little lighter but come in tan, the risks of getting burned is high. You should wait at least 3 weeks before and after treatments to get a tan.
Can I get Laser Hair Removal done if i had just had a facial treatment, chemical peel, microderm, etc?
No. You should wait at least 3 weeks before doing a laser treatment on your face. Your face will be more sensitive and may increase your risks of burning.
How much do women spend on shaving and waxing a year?
80 million women spend $500 million on shaving waxing and accessories per year
How can you make laser hair removal more comfortable?
One advantage of our system is that it has pre and post cooling plate as well as a chiller screen. We use several diode lasers in the office to ensure efficacy and comfort. The pre cooling plates cool the skin at 2 degrees centigrade making the area treated cool both before during and after the treatment. This means that patients don’t have to use topical anesthetics. Topical anesthetics can take time to activate.
What is the science behind discomfort and laser hair removal?
Most of the discomfort related to laser hair removal is due to the heat generated which can trigger the Group C nerve fibers which are unmyelinated and have a small size and conduct at a slower velocity. Using pre and post cooling techniques can effectively limit discomfort without lowering the fluence or power of the laser. Patients require higher fluences with each treatment for maximal efficacy, particularly when the hairs become finer.
I am on Retinol, Retin A, etc. Can I still get Laser Hair Removal done on my face?
No, that is a contraindication for getting laser hair removal on your face. Products should not be used for at least 1 week before and after treatment.
Is Laser Hair removal safe for pregnant women?
Studies have not shown that getting laser hair removal treatment is in fact safe or not safe for expecting mothers, but we wouldn’t recommend it. We would actually prefer to be on the safe side and say no.
How young can a patient begin Laser Hair Removal?
Laser Hair Removal can begin at 16 years old with the consent of a parent.
When will I begin to see results?
Patients usually begin to see a difference after their first treatment, but you will notice a bigger difference after the third treatment.
How many treatments will I need for the best results?
There is a high variation in how many treatments an individual will need. Some will require three to four treatments while others will require 15 to 20.
What kind of side effects should I expect?
You can expect sore skin and some superficial hair loss. Also, a rash-like bump may occur around the treated hair follicle as well as some swelling.
Can all body parts be treated with laser?
With the exception of the eyes, all body parts, from head to toe, may be treated where there is hair growth.
Does it matter if the fluence is higher or lower on my laser hair settings?
Fluence is a fancy way of stating the energy of the laser. Lower fluences are typically going to be thought of as less effective. In lower fluence lasers, high repetition rates can be employed to provide enough energy to remove the unwanted hairs. Several studies have examined this phenomena. A recent study looked at a comparison of low fluence and high repetition rate versus high fluence and low repetition rate in Chinese women in the Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy written by authors Wenhai Li, et al. They found no difference in low fluence high repetition hair removal versus higher fluence hair removal. What does this means for patients? Patients tend to tolerate hair removal at lower fluences and the effectiveness is similar making laser hair removal more comfortable for patients.
Unwanted hair on certain parts of the body is of great cosmetic concern for women. More commonly today more and more men are seeking a cleaner image and having hair removed from their bodies as well.
When was laser hair first introduced?
Laser hair removal was introduced in 1996 by Grossman who first reported hair removal with a ruby laser. Since then other lasers with better wavelengths have been utilized including alexandrite, diode and melanin.
What is the best wavelength for laser hair removal?
The goal is to target the hair or structures of the hair without targeting the surrounding skin. The best frequencies tend to be between 700nm and 1064nm. Typically lower frequencies, like those closer to 700 nm are best for lighter skin and the higher frequencies are considered better for darker skin. However, the diode lasers (between 800-810nm) are perhaps the most versatile lasers as they can treat both the lighter and darker skin types. This is because in part the long pulsed diode laser (typically between 800-810 nm) has the advantage over alexandrite lasers (755 nm) for less absorption in melanin. The Nd:YAG laser is typically considered best for darker skins, however, it is not ideal in removing hair and is often less effective than diode and alexandrite in its efficacy. IPL for laser hair removal is another option (IPL is a broad band of light) however it is often slightly less effective at selectively targeting hair and overall hair reduction.
What is the exclusion criteria for laser hair removal?
Exclusion criteria for laser hair removal include hormonal disorders, bleeding disorders, cardiac and renal disease, dermatologic or skin conditions of the associated areas including pigmentation disorder, dermatitis, pregnancy, or lactation.
What is the mechanism of action of laser hair removal?
The mechanism of action of laser hair removal is via selective photothermolysis and heat transfer theories. A selective damaging of target tissue can be achieved with shorter pulse durations that the relaxation time of that tissue which will minimize heat transfer to the surrounding tissues. Energy absorbed by melanin in hair matrix and shaft will by transferred to the surrounding tissues causing damage to the stem cells and papilla cells of the hair follicle thus destroying the hair.
Why is more melanin worse for laser hair removal?
Melanin of the skin will compete with absorption of the wavelength of laser. Darker skin types have more melanin and thus are at more risk for injury from absorption of the laser energy. It is for this reason that patients should not tan prior to laser hair removal as more melanin in the skin can increase the likelihood of a burn from laser.
Does the spot size of the laser matter?
The spot size of the laser can affect how effective laser hair removal is. Larger spot sizes tend to have more hair destruction due to less scattering of the laser beam.
Will my hair removal become less effective towards the end of my treatment?
Hair removal often decreases at the end of the 3rd months after the final treatment in part because hair can synchronize and enter the telogen phase. For this reason often times the last treatments are the most difficult.
Can I have a lower strength laser for laser hair removal?
The wrong settings on a laser hair removal session can lead to MORE hair growth rather than less. This is why many at home laser hair devices are still debatable as they may actually encourage laser growth rather than decrease it.
Do at home laser removal devices work?
The answer to this is not sure. Many laser hair removal devices work on lower fluences (less energy) and use either IPL or diode. The issue is that if the fluence is too low it may actually encourage hair growth rather than inhibit it. Some studies have actually shown immediate loss of hair while using the device and then further increases in hair to support this. In addition, the at home devices have no adjustability to work with your skin and as such many reviews of these products often demonstrate unsatisfied customers. A low energy, non-adjustable device placed in a consumer hand is less likely to lead to permanent hair reduction than a high energy adjustable device with a trained laser technician trained by a laser surgeon trained to look for signs of effective hair removal and safe hair removal.
What type of hair works best for laser hair removal?
Thick, black coarse hair is the best responding hair for laser hair removal.
How does laser hair removal compare with electrolysis?
Electrolysis is much more painful and is often less reliable. In addition, electrolysis is at least 60 to 100x slower in time. This means in our office a patient seeking laser hair removal of their legs would take 15 minutes may take upwards of 4 to 8 hours with electrolysis and have a less reliable and more expensive result.
If there is a tattoo present will it be affected by laser hair removal?
Tattoos near the laser may experience some darkening.
What should I expect after my procedure for laser hair removal?
Initially, cool compresses can soothe the area but are not always necessary. The areas treated may be slightly erythematous for a few days. Over the next few weeks, hair will begin to grow and by week 4, hair will start to shed in a patchy format. This shedding takes approximately 4 weeks to occur. Most patients are ready for additional treatments at either week 4, 6, or 8 depending on which area is treated. Over the course of 3 treatments patients most patients should expect 75% hair reduction and with further treatments more hair reduction is expected. Each subsequent treatment should be easier and easier for the patient as less hair is to be expected.
Will it hurt to have my hair Lasered?
All Lasers have some degree of discomfort if it is targeting the correct area. We minimize the discomfort by utilizing a cooling tip, numbing gel when applicable and other techniques to minimize the patient’s discomfort.
Can I do less sessions than recommended by Aesthetic Skin?
Patients can do as many or as little sessions as desired. It is important for patients to remember that hair grows at a variable rate and only hair in the anagen phase is targeted. Since our hair goes through multiple growth cycles multiple sessions are likely to be required. Doing less Laser hair removal sessions will reduce hair but not to the degree patient’s may desire.
Do I need to shave or trim my hair prior?
Shaving your hair is required. We do charge to shave your hair as it does take our LASER staff time. Ideally, we recommend patient shave 1-3 days prior to Laser hair removal.
Dr. Shah is a double board certified facial plastic surgeon who has written over 50 scientific articles including three landmark articles about facial anatomy revolutionizing the way plastic surgery is performed. Dr. Shah specializes in Laser Hair Removal and takes an analytical approach to patient recovery after the procedure. Based in Chicago, IL; Dr. Shah is not only recognized as one of the top plastics surgeon not only in the city of Chicago, but in the world.