One of the most popular Aesthetic Surgery treatments is LASER hair removal. It is a treatment that provides a definite solution to undesirable hair growth, taking advantage of modern technology.
Every woman wants to get permanently rid of lengthy, awkward and sometimes painful hair removal process enjoying a beautiful, smooth skin without any unwanted and unsightly hair growth. Correspondingly, every man who suffers from excessive hair growth on the back or the chest would like to get permanently rid of this image.
Traditional hair removal methods (such as wax, razor, electrolysis needles, etc.) are ineffective regarding the elimination of the problem and sometimes are accompanied by undesirable side effects (folliculitis, burns, pain, etc.). The results are short term and it is required to repeat the process very frequently and in any case, the solution offered is not permanent.
LASER therapy and Photolysis are both contemporary hair removal methods. Both methods provide advanced solutions to the hair growth problem and belong to the so-called “light therapy”.
In order to understand the mechanism of action of the methods mentioned above, we should make clear that LASER should not be related to Photolysis. They are two completely different methods when it comes to their application philosophy and results.
The LASER treatment is considered to be the most innovative and complete proposal, providing a definite solution to the undesirable hair growth problem. Advanced technology laser systems offer a unique solution to the problem of permanent reduction of excessive hair growth. It is completely safe and it costs less compared to other treatments.
What does LASER technology exactly be?
The word “LASER” (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) means amplified light. That light is coherent, monochromatic with a specific wavelength, whether visible or not. This monochromatic light is emitted by a special mechanism at the heart of any LASER system, which determines the color of the produced light. When the mechanism is triggered, it produces a light beam which is then transmitted from the controlled device through a very thin optical fiber. Depending on the light characteristics, the LASER application can be determined. Practically, there are many different kinds of LASER. Each one of them produces a different kind of light; this is why each has a different purpose.
How many kinds of LASER currently exist for the treatment of undesirable hair growth?
The hair removal LASER systems available today are:
Alexandrite LASER 755 nm,
Diode LASER 800-810nm,
Nd:YAG laser 1064nm
Ruby LASER 694nm
A comparative study among different kinds of LASERS, published in the Journal of European Dermatology Company (JEADV Jan 2006 vol 20 NoI, p.9-19), proved that both Alexandrite Laser and the Diode Laser are of greater efficiency.
Given the fact that the LASER Alexandrite is FDA approved for permanently reducing the undesirable hair growth, we will try to present a more thorough report on the hirsutism treatment with the use of this LASER type.
How is hair destroyed when using Alexandrite LASER?
Alexandrite Laser produces a light, through crystal stimulation, which targets the melanin of the hair follicle cells. Melanin is a dark pigment produced by skin melanocytes and this is due to the skin and hair color.
When the LASER light falls onto melanin-containing cells, it is completely absorbed by this pigment. As a result, cells are killed by the sublimation process. Consequently when the LASER light falls on dark or black hair, then it is absorbed by the hair cells melanin, resulting in the strain destruction, yet mainly the hair follicles due to the greater concentration of melanocytes.
The hair follicle is actually the hair matrix by which the hair is incurred. The destruction of the hair follicles results in the gradual hair attenuation and eventually eliminates it. This phenomenon is called as “Eclectic Photothermolysis” and is the basis of the depilation LASER technology.
Is the Alexandrite LASER suitable for all skin types?
Τhe Alexandrite LASER is an extremely safe choice for pale skin since the LASER light is not absorbed by surfaces that do not contain melanin. In Mediterranean countries, where the “wheatish” skin tone is more frequent, this LASER type, with the appropriate selection of the treatment parameters, constitutes a very good and efficient solution.
Generally speaking, Alexandrite LASER is not a good solution for persons of color and dark skin races, as well as for recently tanned skin. Dark or recently tanned skin is due to a large concentration of melanin, a fact that during the LASER application causes the melanocytes are being absorbed by the light energy, resulting in post-operative effects such as burning, discoloration or hyperpigmentation.
The LASER type used in dark races or recently tanned skin is the Nd: YAG laser 1064nm, even though it is not as effective.
Is Alexandrite LASER suitable for white or blond hair?
This LASER type has the maximum efficacy in treating hair growth of black or dark hair in any body part.
Since the LASER philosophy is based on the light absorption by melanin, even if white or blonde hair exist in a body part, (i.e hair without melanin) then the application of Alexandrite LASER has no therapeutic effect.
Nowadays, there is no LASER type specializing particularly on white or blonde hair. In such case, we have to provide electrolysis-based solutions.
What does the treatment procedure entail?
First things first, you should always wear special glasses, in order to protect your eyes from the LASER light.
In every application, the doctor directs the beam of light in the treated areas with a simple transmission system and a handpiece by which the LASER is emitted.
The LASER light beam is emitted in the skin area of skin through the hand piece and destroys many hairs simultaneously rather than one hair at a time.
Does the Alexandrite LASER application hurt?
Prior to and after each LASER pulse, a short cooling pulse is emitted by injection in the treatment area, through a special cooling mechanism. The use of the cooling pulse minimizes the sense of pain.
More sensitive areas such as mustache, eyebrows or bikini, which are usually more painful, are treated with the use of anesthetic ointment, so the hair removal procedure is completely painless.
Women, who underwent needle depilation in the past, consider that LASER hair removal is actually painless. This happens because LASER pain is mild and subjective, since LASER is a light absorbed by hair follicles, whereas electrolysis pain is greater and objective because the electric power burns each hair separately.
Should we shave the body parts where the LASER will be applied?
The LASER light beam should damage the bulb in the hair root – the part which is beneath the skin and invisible, so as be effective.
This means that LASER does not have to “see” visible part of the hair, which emerges above the skin. It acts directly on the hair follicle into the skin, where hair is incurred, leaving the skin surface intact.
What we usually do is reduce the hair length up to 1-2 mm above the skin and not shave the surface under treatment. This happens only for the first session, since hair will not have grown until the next sessions (by the 4th or 5th week approximately).
How many sessions are necessary and how long do they take?
In each body, there are two hair growth zones: the hormone-dependent and non-hormone-dependent areas. For example face, mustache and waist are considered to be hormone-dependent zones, while armpits, bikini zone, arms, calves, eyebrows, nipples are non-hormone-dependent.
The LASER application onto hormone-dependent areas requires frequent repetitions because of the constant “bombardment” that hormones cause in the hair follicles.
Namely, it can take 10 to 16 sessions with a one-month interval, in order to attain a permanent reduction of hair growth at a rate of 70-90% in the hormone-dependent zones while non-hormone dependent zones 6-8 sessions per month are required, for the same hair growth reduction rates to be achieved. The application time ranges from some minutes to an hour maximum depending on the zone.
How often should a LASER session be repeated?
Each hair goes through three phases during its life: anagen, telogen and catagen. During the anagen phase, which lasts from 3 to 5 months approximately depending on the body part, the hair is regenerated and emerges from the hair follicles.
During this phase, there is a maximum concentration of melanocytes at the base of the hair follicle, therefore the LASER application should be repeated on 4 – 5 week intervals, so as to obtain maximum efficiency. This happens because due to the high density of melanocytes during the anagen phase, LASER light is absorbed to a great extent by the hair follicle, so hairs are destroyed to the highest possible degree.
This means that the treatment should be repeated once per month or within 40 days maximum. In between sessions, hairs do not grow anymore in the treated area.
Is LASER hair removal safe? Are there any side-effects?
LASER hair removal is considered to be a permanent, safe and fast solution. Given that LASER is just an amplified monochromatic light, it can be applied from early adolescence, as well as on all body parts such as the mustache, chin, cheeks, eyebrows, underarms, bikini, chest, back, arms, thighs and calves. It is an effective treatment that can be applied all over the body with undesirable hair growth.
Namely, LASER treatment is safer than shaving for the underarms or the bikini area, because we permanently get rid of annoying hair growth with only few repetitions. The LASER penetration depth is focused on just a few millimeters, so the underlying lymph nodes are not at all affected.
To sum up, the repetitive long-term shaving in the underarm or bikini area, along with the injuries this may cause, could provoke inflammation of the lymph nodes, contrary to the LASER light that provides a permanent and definite solution in about 6-8 repetitions.
After each LASER session, there may appear a mild redness, a slight itching or a light swelling in the treated area, but it usually lasts for a few minutes or a few hours. Permanent side-effects such as hyperpigmentation, discoloration or scars are extremely rare, since most of the Laser Hair Removal Systems have efficient cooling mechanisms.
What should the patient do before and after the LASER application?
Before the LASER treatment, one should avoid direct sunlight exposure, as well as any artificial skin tanning (e.g. Solarium). After the LASER treatment, you should also avoid direct sunlight exposure; yet when this is inevitable, always use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.
During the first post-treatment days, we should not scrub or rinse the treated areas with peeling skin products.
Could we obtain the same result in hair removal using Photolysis instead of LASER?
The photolysis machines are definitely considered to be hair removal methods, but rather “conventional” compared to the revolutionary LASER technology.
More precisely, photolysis is a hair removal method whose technology is based on the effect of intense pulse light. It is completely different than the LASER technology, because the photolysis light is multicolored. This why the photolysis machines cannot emit light with the unique and stable LASER color and they are less selective regarding hairs, thus much less effective and sadly, less safer.
Photolysis treatments are usually performed in non-medical wellness centers and beauty institutes by non-experts or cosmetologists, since no medical license is required. The photolysis results are quite effective, since body parts with undesirable hair growth can be improved, yet without providing a definite and permanent solution.
Contrary to photolysis, LASER treatments can be performed only by Plastic Surgery and Dermatology Medical Centers, since the LASER technology application is not that simple, demanding special training and expertise, on behalf of the medical staff.
In recent years, continuous development and upgrading of LASER machines provides excellent results in treating unwanted hair growth “which, except for being totally safe, tend to be radical and permanent.”
Can men also undergo LASER hair removal? If so, which are the most common application areas?
One of the main problems of a man is hirsutism (i.e. areas with hair growth such as back, shoulders and neck). It is the presence of undesirable hair growth in visible parts of the trunk which, especially during the summer, cover the muscle lineage of the body, resulting in an unsightly image.
The Alexandrite LASER hair removal is considered to be a one-of-a-kind treatment for the removal of annoying hair growth for men, as it can relieve them safely, permanently, quickly and painlessly from unsightly hairs.
Except of back, shoulders and neck hair removal, the Alexandrite LASER is also applied in the chest, waist (lumbar) and arms.
Young men who take care of their body or are engaged in Bodybuilding and pursue an impeccable image of themselves except for hair removal in the back, neck, arms and chest,, they also remove hairs from their feet and belly, so as to obtain perfectly defined muscles when competing.
LASER hair removal is a permanent solution. Is it an expensive treatment, though? How much does the LASER hair removal cost?
One could say that 5-10 years ago LASER hair removal was a luxury solution, but nowadays this does not hold true.
The Alexandrite hair removal is a completely safe, fast and effective treatment with surprisingly low cost.
Since there have been discovered new, faster and more efficient LASER systems and due to the actual economic situation, we can say that today the cost of LASER hair removal treatments is very low. Beyond the permanent results offered by the LASER technology, there is an additional reason why LASER hair removal is among the most popular treatments in Plastic Surgery Clinics.
Below are some indicative prices of the Alexandrite LASER treatments:
Upper lip – chin – brow: from 20 to 40 Euros
Sideburns: from 20 to 30 Euros
Full Face and throat: from 50-70 Euros
Armpits: from 40-60 Euros
Bikini (line): from 40 Euros
Bikini (all front): from 50-80 Euros
Bikini (all front and back): from 60-100 Euros
Belly Line: from 30 Euros
Arms: from 80-120 Euros
Legs: from 150-220 Euros
Ears- Glabella (Men): from 20 Euros
Shoulders (Men): from 50 to 70 Euros
Back (Men): from 100 to 150 Euros
Waist – loin (Men): from 70 to 120 Euros
Chest (Men): from 100 to 200 Euros
Belly (Men): from 100 to 200 Euros
Our Centre treats each case individually. Depending on skin type, hair structure and season of the year (it has to do with the weather conditions), Dr. Koutsouris carefully selects and adjusts the treatment parameters (frequency, pulse duration, energy, intensity of cooling, the diameter of the laser beam, etc.) for the application to be completely controlled, safe and efficient.
The above prices are absolutely indicative and customized according to the needs of each patient. For further information about Hair Removal treatments, please do not hesitate to contact or visit us in one of Dr.Koutsouris Plastic Surgery Centers.
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