How does laser hair removal work?

Laser hair removal is the process of removing unwanted hair by means of exposure to pulses of laser light that destroy the hair follicle. Rather than actually removing the whole hair in the same way as waxing, this treatment works by damaging the structures that produce hair, rendering them unable to grow further hair. As such it is a long term solution for unwanted hair.

The primary principle behind laser hair removal is selective photothermolysis (SPTL). Essentially, laser light is absorbed by the melanin within the hair and heat is generated. The heat then conducts out towards the hair bulb and vascular supply. As long as a sufficient temperature is maintained for the required time then these structures will be successfully damaged to the extent that the follicle stops producing new hair.

Several wavelengths of laser energy have been used for hair removal, these are characterized by their wavelength, measured in nanometers (nm):

Alexandrite: 755nm wavelength offers more powerful energy absorption making it ideal for the widest range of hair types and colours, especially lighter coloured and finer hair.

Diode: 810nm is the classic wavelength to offer deeper penetration of the hair follicle and high average power.

YAG: 1064nm wavelength offers the deepest penetration of the hair follicle making it an optimal solution for darker skin types and thicker, darker hair.

Different laser systems may produce 1 or more of these wavelengths with systems offering more than 1 wavelength being more effective in reducing hair growth.

The laser selectively targets the melanin in the hair as laser light is attracted to darker objects, while leaving the surrounding tissue unharmed. Melanin occurs naturally and gives skin and hair their colour. There are two types of melanin in hair. Eumelanin gives hair brown or black colour, while pheomelanin gives hair blonde or red colour. Because of the selective absorption of photons of laser light, only hair containing eumelanin can be targeted by laser hair removal. Blonde and darker red or auburn hair may have some proportion of eumelanin along with pheomelanin, which could mean that laser hair removal will have some effect. Hair lacking eumalanin such as white, grey, pale blonde or ginger hair will show little or no effect from laser hair removal.

The more melanin in the hair, the more effective the treatment tends to be. Very fine hair (vellus hair) may also not be the best candidate for laser hair removal as the hair lacks density, there may not be enough melanin present for an effective result. Laser works best with dark coarse hair. Light skin and dark hair are an ideal combination, being most effective and producing the best results, but a new generation lasers, such as the pain free Soprano Ice Platinum system, is able to target the widest range of hair colours and is safe for use on all skin types. This is the only laser system on the market the emits all 3 laser wavelengths for the most comprehensive laser hair removal available in the UK.

To book a complimentary patch test and consultation using the new Soprano Ice Platinum system at Mayfair Aesthetics, please click here or call 0207 354 4000.

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