Laser Hair Removal in Washington, DC
Hair Removal Lasers Currently in Use at Our Center
- Lightsheer Diode Laser (Lumenis/Coherent Medical)*
- Long Pulse Neodymium-YAG Laser (Cutera Medical)*
- Apogee Elite Neodymium-YAG Alexandrite Laser (Cynosure Medical)
- Long Pulse Ruby Laser (Wavelight Corp. Germany )
- Apogee 9300 Alexandrite Laser (Cynosure Medical)
*Safe for dark skin patients including African Americans
- Robert M. Adrian, LightSheer™ 800 NM Pulsed, High-Power Diode Laser Hair Removal System
- Robert M. Adrian; Kathleen P. Shay. 800 Nanometer Diode Laser Hair Removal in African American Patients: A Clinical and Histologic Study, Cutaneous Laser Therapy 2000; 2: 183-190.
Facts About Laser Hair Removal
Over the past twenty years the Center for Laser Surgery has been involved in patient treatment and clinical research regarding laser-assisted hair removal. We are pleased to offer a wide variety of advanced laser systems for removing unwanted body hair which includes face, neck and back hair. The following material will inform you of the benefits, risks and anticipated results associated with laser hair removal.
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
At the present time, four laser wavelengths are available for the treatment of unwanted body hair. In essence, these wavelengths target pigment granules in the hair (melanin) in an effort to destroy hair follicles (epilation). Hair follicles are capable of producing hairs of various thickness and colors. Dark hair contains the pigment melanin which serves as the target for energy at these wavelengths. Four wavelengths, 694nm. produced by the Ruby laser, 755nm. produced by the Alexandrite laser, 800nm. produced by the Diode laser, and 1064nm. produced by the Neodymium-YAG laser, have been shown to be effective in the long-term reduction or removal of pigmented (dark) hair. The pulsed laser energy is absorbed by the pigmented hair shaft and transferred to the surrounding follicle. The heat build-up caused by the absorption of energy by the hair itself is capable of creating follicular damage or prevent future hair production by that follicle.
How Successful is Laser Hair Removal (Epilation vs. Depilation)?
Don’t pay attention to false and misleading claims by so called ‘med-spas’. Patients will achieve varying degrees of success, mostly depending on the experience of the provider and technology employed in the hair removal process. The application of most laser and light energies to the skin results in almost complete removal of all visible and actively growing hairs (depilation). This effect is similar to that of waxing, and will appear, several days post-treatment, to be the elimination of all hair from the area. However, the number of hair follicles that are permanently removed (epilation) as a result of a treatment can vary widely. Epilation (described above) is what results in long-term reduction in hair follicles and decreased hair density from a treated area. Many med-spas and less experienced providers do not utilize the correct laser technology or treatment parameters to allow for effective epilation, resulting in short term effects (depilation), but no long-term hair reduction results. In addition, avoid practices which employ IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) machines for ‘laser hair removal’, as depilation (with minimal epilation) is a temporary side effect of IPL treatment, and is far less effective for long-term hair reduction than the use of clinically proven laser systems designed specifically for this procedure.
In most instances multiple treatments are necessary in order to achieve long-term or permanent hair reduction and in some instances, treatment may fail to permanently remove all the hair in a given anatomic site. In order to understand the process it is important to understand the biology of hair growth itself. Hair growth cycles are divided into three phases. The anagen follicle or growing hair is the major target for laser energy and represents the most vulnerable phase of the hair growth cycle. Telogen or resting hairs are not actively growing and appear to be more resistant to the laser energy. The transitional phase between anagen and telogen phases known as the catagen phase is brief but also relatively resistant to laser removal.
Depending on the body site, various percentages of hairs are in the anagen, catagen and telogen phase. As a result, it is necessary to treat a given anatomic area more than once in order to attempt to achieve permanent hair removal. Since the anagen phase is most vulnerable, a period of 4-6 weeks between treatments is recommended to allow the resting or telogen phase hairs to once again enter the anagen cycle and become more sensitive to the laser energy.
How is Laser Hair Removal Performed?
Laser hair removal is a moderately time-consuming but relatively straightforward process. We utilize a proprietary topical numbing cream which drastically reduces the discomfort associated with the laser hair removal process. Prior to treatment the hairs will be shaved, numbing cream will be applied and allowed to take effect, and the laser treatment will proceed once the area is properly numbed. Treatment times vary from a few minutes for areas such as the chin and neck up to 1-2 hours for extensive areas of the legs, back and chest. After the procedure cool compresses and soothing gels are applied to the treated area and patients can spend time relaxing prior to traveling home.
What Will I Look Like After Treatment?
The application of laser energy to the skin results in a pink color and on occasion crusting in the area will develop lasting a few days. Discomfort similar to a sunburn may be noted over the first 24-hour period and in extensive cases Tylenol or mild Codeine containing analgesics may be used. In certain instances, especially in darker complected individuals, temporary pigmentation changes may be noted. One may notice hair within the follicles for up to two weeks after therapy, however, this will fall out leaving smooth, hair-free skin.
What Do I Have to Do Before Treatment Begins?
During your initial consultation you will be asked to provide a detailed medical and hormonal history. In the case of new onset hirsutism (facial hair growth) we may refer for hormonal workup to rule out conditions such as PCOS, which can affect the results of laser hair removal and more importantly a patients overall health. Patients who have a darker skin types may use a bleaching cream (Hydroquinone or Kojic Acid) for three to four weeks prior to treatment and during the treatment period in order to lighten the area being treated for increased treatment efficacy and decreased pigmentation side effects.
What are the Risks Associated with Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal has proven to be a very safe procedure when performed in physicians’ offices, not at spas, strip malls, and nail salons. When appropriate lasers are used, there is little chance of scarring associated with this process. In certain instances, temporary increased or decreased pigmentation will be noted within the treated areas, especially in more darkly pigmented patients. In certain cases there may be some degree of crusting during the postoperative period which is treated by the use of bland emollients or occasionally with topical antibiotics.
Nurses and physicians are on call 24 hours a day to assist you through your postoperative period and to answer any questions you may have during this time.
What are the Costs Involved in Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal involves the use of sophisticated expensive laser equipment in order to deliver precise and effective energy pulses. During your initial consultation the areas to be treated will be determined and a fee quote per treatment session will be given to you. This fee involves the cost of the procedure, dressings and postoperative visits if needed. The fee for re-treatment sessions at one to two month intervals may be the same or less than the initial treatment depending on the extent of follow-up treatment needed. Our aim is to provide safe, effective and affordable laser treatments for patients wishing to avail themselves of this service.
What Can I Expect from Laser Hair Removal?
Laser treatment for hair removal currently represents one of the most exciting areas within laser medicine and surgery. Patient variation and the nature of hair follicle growth make it difficult to predict the exact outcome in every case. We are committed to excellence and will attempt to provide a pleasing cosmetic result for all of our patients, however, no specific guarantees can be made with regard to the final outcome.