So since the age of about 12, you’ve been shaving, waxing, dissolving and plucking just to manage unwanted hair growth. ENOUGH. If you are like so many of us that just want the hair gone, for good, we now have a friend in laser hair removal. Over 1 million laser hair removal procedures were performed in 2016 alone (according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery). Over 1 million! That’s a lot of eliminated hair.
The main question many people (both men and women) have is how exactly does the technology work?
The Basics of Laser Hair Removal
Treatment is delivered in a series of sessions (usually from 4-6 over several months). The actual treatment delivers laser light or intense pulsed light (IPL) or heat energy directly to the hair follicle causing damage that slows or prevents future growth. Though the technologies employed differ (IPL or diode laser), the basic concept is that the light targets dark matter (the actual hair follicle). The energy of the light is focused and absorbed by the follicle causing specific damage to the area while not heating up the surrounding tissue.
It is important to note that the current technologies work best on light skinned patients with dark, coarse hair. However some hair removal machines have a broader range of treatment options and effectiveness.
Laser hair removal has been approved by the FDA since 1997 for the “permanent reduction of hair growth”. What does this mean exactly?
Is Laser Hair Removal Really Permanent?
According to the FDA resource site:
“Several manufacturers received FDA permission to claim, ‘permanent reduction,’ NOT ‘permanent removal’ for their lasers. This means that although laser treatments with these devices will permanently reduce the total number of body hairs, they will not result in a permanent removal of all hair. The specific claim granted is ‘intended to effect stable, long-term, or permanent reduction’ through selective targeting of melanin in hair follicles. Permanent hair reduction is defined as the long-term, stable reduction in the number of hairs re-growing after a treatment regime, which may include several sessions…Permanent hair reduction does not necessarily imply the elimination of all hairs in the treatment area.“
How Important Is the Laser Technician’s Experience?
The laser machines have various settings and tip attachments (the piece that touches the skin) and laser technicians must be trained on how best to assess patient needs, operate the specific laser equipment and administer the treatment to prevent adverse reactions. States vary regarding the requirements necessary to operate laser hair removal systems and where they may be operated. States may require laser technicians to obtain certification from an approved training facility, be radiation board certified or licensed and may require a specific medical degree such as nursing. Verify with your state and provider to ensure he/she meets the required guidelines to operate lasers safely for cosmetic purposes.
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