Hair Removal by light and laser therapy has been used for more than a decade with great results. The cost of the procedure can vary from $50 to $500 or more per treatment. As we all know, “cheap” is not always the best way to go. How does the patient sort through what is the best treatment for the best cost?
There is more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak, and this adage applies to laser hair removal. All the methods use either heat to destroy the follicle or a specific wavelength of light that absorbs the pigment in the follicle to destroy it. Recent studies have shown that to have long term effectiveness the method must also destroy the stem cell of the follicle, which is the apparatus that allows the follicle to regenerate the hair shaft. If the stem cell is not destroyed, the result is a Laser Hair WAX effect, in which the hair appears to be gone, only to creep back after several months as the stem cell regenerates the hair.
So a laser or light method that uses pigment absorption rather than heat will be the most effective. However, in skin types that have more natural pigment as in Hispanics and African-Americans, the natural pigment can absorb the light and caution must be taken to avoid burns.
YAG laser uses only heat to remove hair, and since it takes a lot of heat, is very painful. The stem cell is not destroyed with this method, so the long term effect is poor. The benefit is that since it is color blind it can be used in all skin types.
The diode laser can also be used for most skin types, but long term effectiveness is poor, and can even sometimes result in INCREASED hair growth in the surrounding tissue.
The alexandrite and ruby lasers are effective and absorb pigment to destroy the hair shaft, but this method can be dangerous for darker skin types, and rarely destroys the stem cell, resulting in poor long term results.
The IPL “Intense Pulsed Light” is clearly the best method for hair removal for several reasons. Where “laser” uses only one wavelength of light, IPL combines several wavelengths of light to increase efficacy. It is less painful because it uses less heat. It can be adjusted for varying skin types to reduce complications. And the variation in wavelengths of light results in better absorption of different types and colors of the hair shafts.
However, not all IPL’s are created equal. The older IPL technology did not penetrate deep enough in the skin to destroy the stem cell.
At Essence Laser & Wellness, we have chosen the Palomar IPL technology for Hair Removal, since it is the only IPL on the market that we know of, that has a longer wavelength of light to reach the stem cell of the follicle and give better long term
results. We can also use several different handpieces to highlight various wavelengths such as the R (red wavelength) or the Y (yellow wavelength) to give the best results and least complications for each skin type.
More effective treatments mean less treatments are necessary, and even though the cost per treatment may be more, the end result will cost less.
Whew. More information than you need? Not really. Do your homework. Ask questions. What type of laser is being used for your treatments? This is useful information when you, as a consumer and a patient, are shopping around for what is the best result, for the best cost, the least risk, and the least pain.