1. What is hair removal?
It is the removal of the hair follicle through a light beam.
The removal of unwanted hair has been a concern and multiple methods have been used to do so throughout history.
In recent years, lasers and intense light pulses (non coherent) have been introduced to induce selective lesions in hair follicles, obtaining a depilatory effect that lasts as long as possible. The mechanism by which these systems induce selective damage in hair follicles is called ‘selective photothermolysis’.
2. How does it work?
Selective photothermolysis is based on a specific absorption of light by the target tissue. It removes hair from the area without damaging the surrounding tissue. This is achieved because the target tissue contains a specific chromophore, in this case, melanin, which absorbs light.
During the process, light is absorbed by the melanin that’s found in the hair shaft and follicle, and converted into heat energy, thus achieving a temperature rise in the hair. When the temperature is high enough, irreversible damage occurs in the follicle, preventing it from producing new hair.
It is possible to achieve a profound and selective heating of the hair shaft, hair follicle epithelium and the matrix, in a range of wavelengths between 600 and 1100 nanometers. However, there is a competitive absorption by epidermal melanin.
To remove the hair without damaging the epidermis, we must take into account the thermal relaxation time of tissues. With intense light systems you can select the appropriate parameters of duration and number of pulses, allowing the cooling of the epidermis and preventing damage.
3. Does it works on all hair follicles?
To achieve satisfactory hair removal, you need to damage the hair during its active growth cycle (anagen phase). This is because at this stage, there is a greater amount of melanin in the hair bulb. Therefore, the time interval between sessions should be similar to the duration of the telogen phase. This is the resting phase of growth, in which the hair bulb is devoid of melanin, during which the hair usually comes off.
This resting phase (telogen) has different duration depending on the body area. Therefore, the number of sessions required depends on the treated area, normally between 5 and 8 sessions. The best areas are bikini line, legs and armpits, achieving a decrease of hair density over 80% in about 4 sessions.
In the facial area the number of sessions required is more because the hair growth cycles are different, as there is a direct influence on hormone levels (hirsutism). In any case, the results are visible from the first session. The hair that keeps coming out becomes weaker and poor.
As you can see in the picture, besides the hair removal, you get a dramatic improvement in folliculitis, stains and self-injuries caused by the removal of hair with tweezers. The photo shows the facial area of a woman with hirsutism before and after two treatment sessions with intense pulsed light hair removal.
When it comes to male hair removal, there are some differences: in the beard area there is a higher density of hair follicles, so more sessions are needed. Also, the time between sessions is shorter at the beginning. Therefore, it is necessary to use anaesthesia. Body areas where hair appears at puberty (e.g. legs) follow the same guidelines as female body hair removal. However, the hair of the back and chest has its peculiarities. Man begins to have hair on the back in his 20’s and may be producing hair until he is 45-50 years old. The treatment will remove the hair at the time of the session, but he will keep producing new hair depending on his age. Maintenance sessions will be necessary.
4. Advantages over other methods of hair removal
Photo hair removal is the undisputed star when it comes to waxing. It is effective and safe. The only condition is to be in the hands of specialists.
The main advantage of this kind of hair removal is that is really comfortable and after the first session it takes around 2 months for the hair to grow again.
The amount of hair will decrease with each session and the depilation lasts longer with each session.
This method is the best solution to the problems of folliculitis, so common in women’s bikini areas and legs.
5. Side Effects and Contraindications
Not to be performed in:
Areas with malignant injuries or suspicion of malignancy;
Cases when the patient is receiving treatment with photosensitizing drugs (tetracyclines, Roaccutane …);
Patients with abnormal reaction to sunlight; during pregnancy and lactation;
Patients who are very tan or with high phototype, because of the high risk of burns.
As for side effects, it causes mild to moderate pain, although it’s usually not necessary to use topical anaesthesia.
It is frequent to have erythema and perifollicular edema immediately after treatment. It indicates the treatment has been effective.
If there are burns, they are usually superficial. With adequate treatment they resolve without sequels.
6. What care should we have?
We must not forget that melanin is also found in our skin, not just the hair, so you should not receive a treatment session after sun exposure. The session will be postponed until the skin regains its natural tone.
In case of sun exposure, if the melanin in the skin is active, the risk of burn is higher. This is because we are not just acting on the hair, but also on the skin.
In areas exposed to air and sunshine throughout the year (the face), it is recommended to use sunscreen daily and repeatedly.
If the patient has a habit of plucking, the following should be considered:
- Immediately after the session we recommend letting the hair fall (it takes one to two weeks), or using tweezers 2 days after the session. Waxing can be done 5-7 days after.
- When the hair grows back before the next session, it is best not to pull it out. If necessary, because it is a visible area, we recommend using cutting hair removal methods like shaving, scissors or depilatory cream.
- However, if you chose to remove the hair with tweezers or wax, you must wait longer for the completion of the next session. You will have to wait around a month, until all the hairs appear again.
How much does a hair removal treatment cost?
It depends on the area, its extension and if there is one area or more. After studying the specific needs of each patient, we are able to offer a personalised quotation. If you would like a price estimate for the areas you want to treat, please contact us by phone or email.