How Effective Is Laser Hair Removal?

Buttock and Breast Augmentation (NYC), Park Plaza Plastic Surgery New York (NY)

Laser hair removal is one of the most effective treatments available for semi-permanent hair removal. After 5-6 treatments, the average patient sees up to an 80 % reduction in hair density in treated areas. Laser hair removal is effective on both men and women, and can be used to treat hair in nearly every part of the body.

Although anecdotally patients and doctors claim that the procedure works better on people with fairer skin, clinical studies show that it is effective for people of all skin types, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also approved it for use on all skin types.  Effectiveness is more dependent on the hair color, and persons with darker skin may experience more burning as a side effect.

The reason why effectiveness depends more on hair color is that laser hair removal works by a process known as selective photothermolysis.  That is, the hair follicles, dense in melanin, tend to absorb more of the light energy from the laser, transforming it into heat that kills the follicle.  However, in the past dark-skinned people were also subject to serious burns because the laser light was also absorbed by melanin in the epidermis.

The CoolGlide laser used by Park Plaza Plastic Surgery represents an important innovation in laser hair removal that bypasses the epidermal melanin.  The CoolGlide laser is a ND:YAG laser that emits radiation at 1064 nm, in the infrared portion of the spectrum.  For a long time, this wavelength was considered ineffective in laser hair removal, because it is not well-absorbed by melanin, but this turns out to be the secret to its effectiveness.  Because it is not well-absorbed by melanin, the radiation does not immediately impact even the darkest skin, allowing the photothermolytic gradient between the hair and the skin to work over time.  With pulse lengths optimized for your skin and hair color, CoolGlide can kill the hair follicles while sparing the skin.

In addition, the efficient gold-plated copper skin-cooling mechanism prevents the buildup of heat in adjacent areas of the skin, so that as the laser wand moves over the skin only the treated area is heated, again minimizing the chance of thermal damage to the skin. Laser hair removal should not be confused with laser skin resurfacing, which actually ablates (removes) the outer layers of the skin.

Laser hair removal is not completely permanent.  Virtually everyone who has the treatment experiences permanent hair reduction, but to maintain hairlessness may require maintenance treatments every six months or year.

To learn more about laser hair removal and how effective it is likely to be in your case, contact Dr. Lefkovits at Park Plaza Plastic Surgery to set up a consultation.