It is hard to believe, but laser hair removal is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. It was back in 1996 that a group of doctors first reported in medical journals about the use of a laser to remove unwanted hair.
When I first started performing this procedure some years later in 2003, I was only one of a handful of doctors in Maine offering laser hair removal. Naively, at first, I did not realize what a high demand there was for this service.
Prior to the use of lasers, electrolysis was the only technology available for this purpose. While still used today by some for the purposes of hair removal, it continues to have many drawbacks including swelling, tiny blisters, scabs, and ingrown hairs forming after treatment.
A lot has happened over the past two decades, but suffice it to say that laser-based hair removal devices are better and safer than ever. Because lasers generate a great deal of heat below the surface of the skin to kill the hair root, controlling that heat is crucial to skin safety.
The latest laser devices greatly emphasize cooling the skin’s outer surface while more precisely targeting the heat on the hair root to be destroyed. Cooling gels, combined with cooling solutions running through the laser tip, are great additions to the laser technology itself.
The latest generations of hair removal lasers are also adjustable or tunable in that I can adjust the strength of the laser for a person’s individual tolerance to heat and light. Through these cooling and energy adjustment advances, skin injury is rare.
The one technological problem that continues to need to be solved is the lasers’ difficulty in removing light and thin hairs. Since the lasers are primarily targeted at thickness and color of the hair root, lighter colors and more peach fuzz consistency hair are much harder for lasers to permanently remove and reduce.
There is hope, however, in that trials are currently going on using nanotechnology. One company has developed a nanoparticle topical preparation that will penetrate into the lighter hair follicle to make it more sensitive to laser energy. This topical antidote would be a major breakthrough for those with lighter hair and may be available by 2017.
As always, I will continue to bring you the latest in laser technology as it becomes available, and I will keep you posted on the nanotechnology progress as well. If you and any friends or family have embarrassing or aggravating hair conditions you want resolved, simply call us for a free consultation at (207) 873-2158.
P.S. This is not just a female issue. I see many men for excessive chest and back hair as well as shaving bumps that we treat with our lasers too.