What is Unwanted Hair?
Let's face it, excess body hair can be unsightly and embarrassing. Shaving, plucking, waxing and depilatory creams provide temporary fixes that are inconvenient, irritating, messy and only temporary. Electrolysis is time consuming, sometimes painful, and is useful only in removing hair from small areas.
Excess and unwanted hair is a common problem. Women frequently experience this condition on the face, especially the upper lip or eyebrow area, in the bikini area, under the arms or on the legs. Men often wish to rid themselves of hair on their back or chest. They too may have unwanted hair between their eyebrows or on other parts of their face.
Advanced technology lasers and light sources are rapidly changing hair removal treatment, providing gentle, non-invasive and long-lasting solutions to unwanted hair. Among laser and light-based devices, the LightSheer™ Diode Laser System and the IPL™ provide safety, superior results and patient satisfaction.
What is Unwanted Hair?
Unwanted hair is a problem shared by both men and women. In many cases the condition runs in families. Race can also be a factor - whites are more prone to having excess facial hair than are Asians and blacks. Some people experience unwanted or excess hair from the time they reach puberty; others find it to be a condition that gets worse with age. Some women experience additional hair growth during pregnancy or menopause. Women who experience sudden hair growth should consult with their physicians, as this may be a sign of other medical conditions.
Hair does not come in any one size or type. Follicles in different parts of the body produce differing types of hair. Hair can grow in thick, bushy patches or in long thin strands. In addition, hair is produced in follicles that can be found at different depths and densities - as close to the skin's surface as a millimeter or as deep as five millimeters or more. Until recently, this great variety in hair types and body locations made long-lasting hair removal a significant challenge.
Tweezing and Shaving
The most basic approach to removing unwanted hair has been the trusty tweezers - their use goes back to ancient Rome. The drawbacks of this approach are pretty obvious; in addition to being painful and time-consuming, plucking is only a short-term solution as the hair invariably grows back. Shaving unwanted hair is another quick, yet ultimately ineffective way to permanently rid oneself of excess hair.
Millions of dollars have been spent on messy chemical depilatory creams, which can cause redness and irritation, while having no permanent effect on unwanted hair. Consumers have found newer, "organic" hair removal creams to be less offensive to the skin, but they have not proved any more effective at getting rid of hair. Prescription creams often provide good results, but they must be used at least twice per day, and never provide a permanent solution.
Waxing is quite popular, especially among women. This method only provides hair-free results for two to four weeks. Many people find the process painful, and waxing can cause skin irritation and ingrown hairs.
Electrolysis is generally an effective means of hair removal, but this technique can be painful, time-consuming and expensive. During electrolysis, an electric current passes through a needle to destroy each individual hair root. It typically takes months and numerous visits to clear even small areas, such as the upper lip.
New Treatment Options: Lightsheer™ and IPL™
Innovative, light-based devices have revolutionized the treatment of unwanted hair, offering gentle, effective and convenient solutions for both men and women. Both the LightSheer Diode Laser System and Intense Pulsed Light System (IPL) use targeted flashes of light to block the regrowth potential of the hair follicle. These treatments do not damage surrounding tissue and each device targets numerous hair follicles simultaneously, allowing for the treatment of large areas quickly and effectively.
What to Expect
The length of an individual treatment may last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more, depending on the size of the area being treated. The number of treatments required depends on several factors related to specific kinds of hair and skin. It is important to understand that hairs in an active growth phase (anagen) are most affected by treatments. Since all hairs are not in this phase at the same time, several treatments are necessary to achieve the best results. Practitioners design customized treatment programs, and give patients an estimate of how many sessions may be needed in order to meet expectations.
The treatment may cause some minor discomfort - patients often describe it as a slight tingling or compare it to a pinch or the sting of a snapped rubber band. Most patients tolerate the procedure well; topical anesthesia is rarely required, but may be an option when treating more sensitive areas.
The appearance of the treated area immediately following a session will vary from patient to patient, though side effects are rare. Any swelling or redness at the treatment site typically goes away within a couple hours, and most people are able to return to normal activity immediately. The best news is that many of the unwanted hairs are gone at the end of the treatment.
What causes unwanted hair?
Excess and unwanted hair is a common problem. Women frequently experience this condition on the face, especially the upper lip or eyebrow area, at the bikini line, under their arms or on their legs. Men often have unwanted hair on their back or chest, between their eyebrows or on other parts of their face. In many cases excessive hair growth runs in families. Race can also be a factor - whites are more prone to having excess facial hair than are Asians and blacks. White women of Mediterranean descent are more likely to have unwanted hair than women who have a Scandinavian background. Hormones also play a role. Some people experience unwanted or excess hair from the time they reach puberty; others find it to be a condition that gets worse with age. Some women experience additional hair growth during pregnancy or menopause.
How is unwanted hair treated?
Conventional treatments include shaving, plucking, waxing and depilatory creams. These methods provide temporary fixes that are often inconvenient, messy and irritating for the skin. Electrolysis can have good results, but is time-consuming, sometimes painful and is useful only in removing hair in small areas. The LightSheer™ and IPL™ light sources are rapidly changing hair removal treatment, providing gentle, non-invasive, long-lasting solutions to unwanted hair on any body area.
What happens during a LightSheer or IPL treatment?
Before each session begins, system settings are computer-customized according to skin color and type and the area of the body being treated. Treatment begins by trimming away any hair above the surface of the skin and then conducting test spots to determine the patient's skin response to different device settings. Next, a cold gel (similar to ultrasound gel) is sometimes spread over the treatment area. This helps keep the skin cool and focus the light treatment. Patients wear special eyewear to protect the eyes from the bright light. The device handpiece is moved over the treatment area, while light-based energy is emitted in highly controlled flashes or pulses. This heats up the hair, significantly damaging the regrowth potential of the follicle. When the gel is removed, much of the hair is wiped off with it. Additional hair may fall out over the next week or two.
How long do treatments last? How many will I need?
Sessions can last from a few minutes to more than an hour, depending on the size of the area being treated. The number of treatments required depends on several factors related to specific skin types and color, thickness and density of hair. Several treatments are necessary to achieve the best results. Consult your practitioner for an estimate of the necessary number of treatments.
How much time is there between sessions?
Subsequent sessions are scheduled when the hair begins to regrow. The timing for this can range from four to eight weeks, depending on hair type and the part of the body being treated. On average, appointments are scheduled four to six weeks apart.
Are light treatments safe for all skin types?
Yes, this technology can be used to treat unwanted hair on all skin types, including dark-skinned individuals such as those of African, Hispanic or Asian descent, as well as those patients with tanned skin.
Can all hair be treated?
Yes, treatments are customized according to hair color, texture and location. Any hair with at least some pigment can be treated.
What does the treatment feel like?
Most people tolerate the treatments very well. Discomfort is often described as a slight tingling or a pinch similar to the snap of a rubber band. Topical anesthesia can be used when treating particularly sensitive areas of the body.
Are there any possible side effects?
The appearance of the treated area immediately following treatment will vary from patient to patient depending on the extent of the procedure and skin type. Side effects, if any, are usually minor. There may be some redness and swelling around the treated hair follicles; this is a desired clinical result indicating that the follicle has responded to treatment. This reaction typically disappears within hours. Most people return to normal activity right away. On rare occasions, some blistering may occur, but this typically resolves quickly. The skin can become darker or lighter following treatment, but will generally return to normal within a few weeks. Limiting sun exposure before and after each treatment will minimize the risk of complications.
What kind of results should I expect? Does this technology really remove hair long-term?
Yes. Scientific studies show that the use of targeted, light-based energy actually damages or destroys hair follicles at the cellular level. A permanent reduction in the number of regrowing hairs is usually achieved following each treatment.
Are these treatments FDA-cleared? Are they safe?
Yes, both the LightSheer Laser System and the IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) System are FDA-cleared for the treatment of unwanted hair. The procedures have unparalleled safety records. Side effects are rare and generally well-tolerated.
Are these procedures covered by insurance?
Insurance reimbursement varies from state to state and carrier to carrier. While most insurance companies do not offer reimbursement for cosmetic conditions, it is best to consult with individual carriers for more information.
How do these technologies differ?
The LightSheer Diode Laser System and the IPL (intense pulsed light) System are two of the most efficient options available for light-based treatment of unwanted hair. Many physicians have both systems. One may be more suitable than the other, based on patient skin-type. Those considering treatment should discuss options with their doctors. A background for each system is discussed below:
LightSheer Diode Laser System
Using the latest generation diode laser, this state-of-the-art technology operates at the optimal wavelength of light that is best absorbed by both the hair shaft and follicle while protecting the surface skin from heat damage. The LightSheer has been shown to be a successful method for permanent reduction of unwanted, unsightly hair. Numerous published studies in professional medical journals attest to the LightSheer system's safety and long-term effectiveness.
LightSheer systems treat the hair by directing precise laser energy into the base of the follicle. A thin layer of cool, transparent gel may be applied to the treatment area to better focus the energy. The energy heats the hair and damages the hair follicle, causing the hair to fall out and to not grow back for some length of time, sometimes forever!
Unlike other hair removal tools, the LightSheer system incorporates the ChillTip™ technology , which continuously cools the skin. This proprietary feature helps to:
- maximize the effectiveness of the treatment
- decrease skin damage
- minimize any discomfort
- allow for treatment of all skin types
In addition, the LightSheer system technology has proven effective on a wide range of hair colors, from blonde through auburn to brown and dark black hair. Most important, LightSheer systems successfully remove hair from all skin types - from porcelain white through olive to dark brown complexions, including tanned skin. Hair can be treated on any part of the body, no matter how deep the follicles may reside. Treatment of sensitive areas like the lips, ears, nose, underarms and bikini line can usually be tolerated easily.
Another key advantage is the LightSheer system's large treatment area, enabling the device to cover more area in substantially less time. In fact, approximately 100 - 200 hairs can be treated with each zap of the laser, so that large swaths of hair on the legs, back and chest can be treated quickly in a single session. At the same time, LightSheer can be very precisely focused, so that hair is eliminated from delicate places.
Multiple treatment sessions are typically required for permanent hair reduction. The success of LightSheer has been studied in numerous clinical trials. Hundreds of patients with a wide range of skin types and hair color have been treated and followed (in some cases) for several years. In a key Harvard study, all 92 patients treated had complete or near complete temporary hair loss. Almost 90% of patients experienced significant, long-lasting hair removal, or permanent hair reduction, with no serious side effects observed.
IPL Systems for Hair Removal
This breakthrough technology uses broadband, IPL (intense pulsed light) technology to damage hair follicles for long-term hair removal. IPL systems for hair removal go by many names including the Lumenis One system, EpiLight system, the VascuLight system and IPL Quantum system. Each system has shown to be a successful method for reducing unwanted, unsightly hairs.
Unlike conventional laser systems, IPL systems utilize a broad light spectrum with wavelengths ranging from 590 to 1200 nm (green, yellow, orange, red and infrared). They also emit light energy in very carefully timed bursts to:
- maximize the effectiveness of the treatment
- decrease in potential for injury to the surrounding skin
- minimize patient discomfort
IPL systems treat the hair by directing light energy through a light guide placed on the patient's skin. A thin layer of transparent gel covers the treatment area to focus the light energy and cool the top skin layer. The light energy heats and damages the hair follicle, typically causing the hair itself to fall out from the follicle. IPL system technology provides a procedure that is gentle and non-invasive, with nominal side effects.
With its powerful, innovative software, IPL system treatment parameters can be selected by the physician according to an individual's specific skin color, hair color and hair density. This major advantage allows the physician to customize each individual treatment based on personal experience, as well as the unique attributes of the hair follicles.
As a result of this computer-generated precision, the IPL system has proven effective on a wide range of hair colors, from blonde through auburn to brown and dark black hair. Most important of all, the IPL system successfully removes hair from all skin types - from porcelain white through olive to dark brown complexions.
In addition, IPL system technology enables the physician to efficiently remove hair from any part of the body, no matter how deep the follicles may reside. Treatment of sensitive areas like the lips, ears, nose, underarms and bikini line can usually be tolerated with minimal discomfort.
Another IPL system advantage is its wide treatment area, enabling the device to treat patients rapidly. In fact, approximately 100 - 200 hairs can be treated with each flash of the light, so that large swaths of hair on the legs, back and chest can be treated quickly in a single session.
Multiple treatment sessions are typically required for long-lasting hair removal. In a recent clinical study, researchers from Cornell and Duke Medical Centers reported an average hair loss of 64% at six months or more of follow-up after multiple treatments. Study results also confirmed that the IPL hair removal system uniquely achieves significant, long-lasting hair removal through selective cell destruction to hair follicles.
Powered by the revolutionary elos Technology, Syneron Hair Removal systems are setting new standards of speed, safety, and efficacy, in the removal of even minimally-pigmented hair colors, and all skin tones, including tanned skin.
elos is the first and only technology that simultaneously harnesses the power of bi-polar radio frequency (RF) and optical energy (either laser or light). Developed by IPL inventor/patent-holder Dr. Shimon Eckhouse and master physicist, Dr. Michael Kreindel. This revolutionary technology platform effectively overcomes the safety and procedural limitations of intense pulse light (IPL) and conventional lasers.
Using revolutionary elos Technology, our systems first preheat the target using optical energy, which creates a thermal path on which the radio frequency (RF) travels. RF is delivered directly to the hair follicle, which can not conduct RF. The build up of current density results in 4x heat coefficient thermal transfer. Under 80X magnification, distinct peri-follicular coagulation or bleaching is evident. The hair follicle is terminally disabled and denatured.
Most people experience no side effects, though a few may exhibit some short-term local reddening.
Disclaimer: References or links to other sites from Wellness.com does not constitute recommendation or endorsement by Wellness.com. We
bear no responsibility for the content of websites other than Wellness.com.