Get The Hair Out

laser-faceLong gone are the days when women had to be embarassed by hair growth, relying only on shaving cream, razors, waxing or Nair to remove unwanted hair.  Now, permanent hair removal treatments are the 3rd most popular of non-surgical cosmetic procedures in the country.

At Maine Laser Skin Care, laser hair removal is a daily procedure.  It accounts for 25-30% of our cosmetic procedures overall.

Even though it seems as if laser hair removal has been around forever and I have been performing in central Maine since 2003, the first medical article documenting the use of lasers for hair removal was published in 1996.  Since then, the principle of how laser works for hair removal has remained the same.

underneathBasically, the laser beam, which is attracted to the dark pigment of the hair follicle, penetrates the skin to the level of the hair root and causes a very quick (measured in milliseconds) and intense pulse of energy.  This energy pulse will injure and essentially kill the root of any hair follicle that is actively growing within the treatment area by increasing heat abruptly to the root area.

Since only 10-15% of hair follicles are in the active growth phase on any given day, laser hair removal requires a number of treatments.  What that number is depends on the area of the body, in addition to the color and coarseness of the hair.

Because the root is killed by a sudden increase in energy and heat caused by the laser beam, cooling to protect the normal surrounding skin and skin surface is very important.  For this reason, we apply a cool gel to the skin prior to laser treatment as well as the tip of the laser being constantly chilled by a circulating solution.  In addition, a cold compress is placed on the treated are immediately after the session.

There are a number of different lasers of different wavelengths that will work for laser hair removal to varying degrees.  The Nd:YAG laser is generally considered the safest for all skin types and that is the laser I use at Maine Laser Skin Care for that purpose.

I am also commonly asked about home hair removal devices.  The first one introduced in 2012 was the no!no! Hair device, and similar devices have followed.  Although they are not true lasers, they do pulse heat to the hair in an effort to decrease hair growth.

In general, however, they have not been proven to be very effective.  Many laser experts across the country with whom I have spoken feel that these devices will be most beneficial for those individuals who want to maintain the effects of professionally-administered laser treatments, not those who are removing hair for the first time on their own.

Laser hair removal will continue to be a popular procedure because unwanted hair will always be a problem.  The technology will continue to improve with a focus on faster and less painful methods.

If you have any questions about laser hair removal, or you want to get rid of hair in areas where you don’t want it to be (use your imagination on this one), give us a call at 207-873-2158 for a free consultation.

About Dr. John Burke

John Burke M.D. has practiced medicine for over 25 years, and is the founding partner of MidMaine Internal Medicine. He established Maine Laser Skin Care in 2004 after devoting years to learning the latest in laser and dermatologic technology. Dr. Burke has treated patients from all over the United States. He is one of Maine's busiest practitioners in laser treatments, and in the use of Botox for upper facial lines and excessive sweating.
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