There are a lot of myths, misconceptions, and half-truths about laser hair removal out there. Whether you are surfing the internet or asking your friends, you may not be getting the full story. We are here to tell you all about laser hair removal – no holds barred –and what it REALLY means to you.
Table of Contents
1. What is Laser Hair Removal and Can ItSolve My Unwanted Hair Problems – Permanently?
The top two questions that we get asked are: “What is laser hair removal?” And “Does it really get rid of hair permanently?”
You probably want answers to those questions too! Let’s answer your second question first, as it is so controversial. The answer is Yes – and No.
Yes, laser hair removal treatments can permanently remove one or more individual hairs from your skin. That is to say, individual hair follicles (the root cells from which your hair grows) can be fully, permanently disabled by the laser treatment – so that a new hair will NOT grow from that follicle.
However, as the current state of the technology stands, no laser hair removal treatment will permanently and completely free a whole section of your body from all hair growth.
Now that you know the full truth about the permanence of laser hair removal, let’s go back to your first question, “What is laser hair removal?” and give you a full answer to that question and a proper understanding of how it works. Then you’ll fully understand and appreciate how laser hair removal can validly claim to rid you of hair permanently – and why it may – or may not – be a complete hair removal answer for you, for any particular part of your body.
With many products and services these days, it is enough to know some very basic information and then go out shopping. However, laser hair removal treatment requires you to be a bit more knowledgeable than that, if you want to get the very best results possible. It’s important to learn as much as you can about laser hair removal BEFORE you shop around (and by the time you finish reading this book, you will have ALL of the knowledge you need, as well as some vital resources and tools). Why is it so important to get knowledgeable first? Well laser hair removal is one of those treatments where there is the potential to spend a LOT of money, spend a LOT of time, undergo a considerable amount of pain or at least discomfort, and THEN find out that not only did you not get the best results you could have, but any further treatment could be LESS EFFECTIVE because of the sub-standard treatment you’ve already undergone!
Not only that, laser hair removal does pose some serious health risks. Now don’t worry, the side effect is rare, but they do happen and you must be fully informed about them, about how your own specific skin and hair type affect the risks for you personally, and the important questions you should ask before committing to any laser hair removal treatment, to safeguard yourself fully.
Laser hair removal, in brief, is the application of a special laser to the skin, which passes harmlessly through the skin to target the hair follicles beneath. The laser damages or disables the hair follicle, causing the hair to be shed and, under ideal conditions, the follicle to be permanently disabled such that the hair will not regrow.
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
Before we look at how laser hair removal actually works, you should have a basic understanding of the structure of the skin and hair and understand how hair grows under normal conditions.
As you can see in the image above, below the skin each individual hair originates from a bulb-like pouch, the follicle. The part of the hair that we see “above ground”, as it were, is the shaft of the hair.
Did you know that the forehead has more hair per square centimeter than other parts of the body? However, these are vellus hairs which are very pale, small and thin. The hairs that we women typically would like to be without are darker, thicker hairs, which can be found in various parts of the body. These are called terminal hairs.
Sometimes, follicles that have been producing terminal hair change and shrink and start producing vellus hairs instead. This is what happens on men’s scalps when they exhibit male-pattern baldness.
So for hair removal to be considered a success, what we are really seeking is for the hair follicles that are currently producing terminal hairs to either be completely disabled so they do not produce any hair or convert to producing unnoticeable vellus hairs. When laser hair removal is successful, it works by a combination of these two outcomes.
Here is another image to give you more understanding;
Our hairs grow in cycles, in a mosaic pattern. At any one time, a hair follicle will be in one of the following stages:
- Anagen – this is the active growth stage and can last for several The length of the growth phase depends on many things, including health, physiology, and nutrition. It can also be affected by some medicines. At any one time, around 80% or more of our hair is in this phase. There is a lot of melanin present in the hair and the hair follicle during this stage. Laser hair removal treatment actively targets these hair follicles.
- Catagen – during this stage, the hair is no longer actively growing, but it is not ready to be shed. This stage of the cycle lasts about two weeks, and usually, less than 5% of our hairs are in this stage at any one
- Telogen – in this stage the hair is getting ready to be It is a resting stage for the hair follicle, and lasts around 5 or 6 weeks, at the end of which time the hair is shed and falls out. Then the follicle goes back into the active growth (anagen) stage. About 10% or so of our hair is usually in the telogen stage at any one time.
- hy do you care about these different stages of hair growth? Well, laser hair removal, as we’ve mentioned, actively targets hairs in the anagen phase. In addition, each individual follicle is likely to need a number of treatments, several weeks apart, before it is sufficiently disabled to stop producing new terminal hairs.Understanding how hair grows, the different stages of hair growth and the different skin types (see chapter 5) will be particularly important when we look in detail at the different types of lasers that are in use today for laser hair removal. It is crucial that you can figure out which lasers will be appropriate for you, as most clinics only use one type of laser – if it is not the ideal one for your skin and hair type, they are unlikely to point this out! You need to be fully informed so that you can find and insist on the very best treatment.In an ideal world, this is how laser hair removal would work:
- The laser ray is tuned for maximum absorption by the melanin in the hair follicles and minimal absorption by any melanin present in the skin
- The depth of the laser is exactly tuned to focus within your skin at the depth where your actively growing hair follicles reside.
- The laser is applied by the laser operator in such a way that all of the area you wish to have treated is covered thoroughly, without missing any hairs, but without over- exposing any sections of skin
- An effective cooling mechanism is utilized along with the laser so that your skin cells do not overheat, while allowing the maximum strength of laser beam to be directed at the follicles, providing the best chance of fully disabling them.
- Follow up treatments are scheduled at the correct intervals when any follicles that were not fully disabled during prior treatments have started actively growing again.
Unfortunately, there is much that can go wrong and detract from this ideal situation. Throughout this manual, we will address these issues together and provide you with real-world solutions to enable you to ensure that you get as close as possible to the ideal treatment for your own specific situation, goals, hair color and skin type.