Laser hair removal is now the number one non-invasive aesthetic treatment in the market.
The technology to injure pigmented hair follicles with a ruby-laser was discovered in the 1960s, although the surrounding tissue was also damaged. In the 1980s the theory of selective photothermolysis was developed and applied using a particular wavelength and pulse duration to target the follicle while sparing the nearby skin. This initial method, approved by the FDA, delayed hair growth for up to 3 months, and by 1998 reports were published showing 2 year results.
In the beginning, treatments were expensive, painful and long. Since then, the medical aesthetics industry has been flooded with companies producing ever-advancing technology and using a variety of light sources. Now, with the newest lasers, treatments are quick and comfortable. Cryogen shoots first to cool and protect the upper layers of the skin. The laser follows, targeting the melanin in the hair follicle. The follicle absorbs the energy and is destroyed without any damage to the surrounding tissue. While prime candidates for laser hair removal have dark hair and light skin, there is technology for targeting dark hair on dark skin, as well. The Alexandrite (755nm) laser is the fasted, most powerful and safest for light skin, while the long-pulsed Nd:Yag (1064 nm) laser remains the safest choice for darker skinned patients. Since current lasers are attracted to pigment, the technology is not available to target light hair.
The aesthetic industry is always changing and updating, and laser hair removal is no exception to that. As newer and more advanced lasers roll out, older lasers do not go away. Many medical spas will advertise inexpensive treatments, using these older, ineffective lasers. Patients should be aware of the available technology and look for offices providing treatments performed by trained master aestheticians, overseen by a physician, using the newest laser technology available.