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Removal of Unwanted Hair by Laser Treatment

Chris Hart,

Cristianos Laser Clinic.

 
GENDYS JOURNAL

Issue 3
August 1998

 

Introduction

Unwanted hair, be it on the face or body can be a source of untold misery. It is estimated that 75% of 40 year old women and 95% by the age of 55 consider that they have a problem with facial hair. For the transgendered community the problem is obviously compounded with often tough beard growth to contend with.

The established methods of hair removal all have distinct disadvantages. Waxing and sugaring do hurt, there is no denying it, and they do not offer a permanent solution. Electrolysis does but it takes a very long time to achieve the desired result and many people find it just too painful, particularly on the upper lip, to have more than a small area treated at a time.

Now there is a viable alterative treatment utilising advanced laser technology. It might sound alarming but the results make it worthy of further consideration. Clinical studies have been carried out and thousands of successful treatments completed and while you might expect there to be no gain without pain, most patients report none at all and few describe the treatment as "slightly uncomfortable."

Interested???? Then read on ................

Before we can fully understand how laser hair removal works, we need to look at the process of hair growth. On the surface of the skin, all hair looks the same, but the condition of the hair follicle is vitally important to the success of laser hair removal. The growth and shedding cycle of the hair follicle is divided into three phases.

In the growing stage (anagen) the cells at the base of the hair follicle divide and form the new hair which is pushed upward and appears on the skin surface. Once the formation of the hair is complete the cells at the base of the follicle stop dividing and the follicle then moves into the next stage (catogen). The follicle continues to nourish the hair which is still firmly attached. The final stage (telogen) occurs where the follicle no longer nourishes the hair which in turn is shed. After a dormant period the hair follicle will spring back to life and the process is then renewed. The length of each of these stages varies in different body sites. For instance, the follicles of the scalp remain in the anagen stage much longer than any other body site, which is why our head hair grows long.

It is only in the anagen stage that enough thermal damage can be done to the hair follicle, thus destroying its capacity for regrowth. This, coupled with fact that all of our hair follicles are not active at the same time, explains why laser hair removal requires more than one treatment.

Selective Photothermolysis

Laser hair removal is based upon the technique known as "selective photothermolysis."

This is the principle of using laser energy to selectively destroy a target beneath the surface of the skin while leaving the surrounding healthy tissue intact. Ruby laser seeks to use the concentration of pigment (melanin) in the hair shaft to absorb the laser light, thereby heating the hair and causing thermal damage to the follicle whilst passing harmlessly through the other tissue components.

Facts that can affect treatment

The colour of the hair

There must be a concentration of colour in the hair to absorb the laser light. The treatment does not work on grey or blond hair.

The skin colour

There needs to be a minimum of colour in the skin. Coloured skin contains so much pigment that the laser light is absorbed in the skin and not the hair.

The hair.

The hair needs to be just visible on the surface of the skin in order to indicate the position of the follicle. The shorter and more coarse the hair the better the treatment results.

Medication.

Some medications can cause photosensitivity of the skin. These include some antibiotics, blood pressure/heart tablets and Premarin. These medications do not exclude patients from treatments but a full list of medication should be asked for and disclosed by the patient to the treating clinician. Test shots are always advisable in order to gauge individual skin reaction.

All Ruby Lasers are not the same

The Ruby Laser which was first researched and developed by Professor Marc Clement Dean of Faculty at Swansea University and first came to the public's attention in the "Tomorrow's World " programme is called the Chromos 694 Ruby Laser.

There are only eleven sites in the UK which boasts this innovative technology. Like any scientific breakthrough people try to emulate the theory, so as a result of this there are many other devices on the market which have not undergone such clinical trials as the Chromos 694 Ruby Laser The choice of Ruby Laser is a vital parameter affecting success or failure of treatment.

What to expect

Treatment should only take place after full consultation and after the clinic doctor has authorised that test shots be carried out. The skin should be cooled with ice packs or gel before and after treatment, this reduces the chance of skin reaction. As this treatment treats more than one follicle at any one time it is easy to treat large areas quickly and efficiently. A full beard growth would take approx. 30-45 minutes per session.

The treatment is not without sensation, but as the pulse length of the laser light is only one millisecond duration most people tend to describe it as slightly uncomfortable rather than painful, and those patients that have endured electrolysis are always pleasantly surprised. For those who do find the process uncomfortable the clinic doctor can authorise the use of a topical anaesthetic cream.

Skin reaction varies greatly between individuals and ranges from slightly pink and red reactions lasting anything from minutes to a couple of hours. Very occasionally the skin may blister but never leaves a scar. There have been no reported cases of scarring with the Chromos 694 Ruby Laser. When treating more olive skin tones, temporary skin pigmentation change can occur ,which is normally due to patients not adhering to aftercare advice regarding sun exposure. But once again the skin colour always returns to normal after a short period. Make-up can be applied immediately after treatment.

Is the treatment permanent?

It appears that many clinics are somewhat evasive when asked the question "Is laser hair removal permanent?" Patients who took part in the clinical trials for the Chromos 694 Ruby Laser have remained hair free for at least 4 years. Most physicians consider that the chances of regrowth after this period are negligible, however for legal reasons the manufactures are unable to class the process as permanent at this moment in time, but refer to the process as long-term. With all of the facts taken into consideration most people would agree that with the improved quality of life this treatment can offer it is well worth the investment.

Cost of treatment

Costs of treatment vary from clinic to clinic and area to area. It should never be the main deciding factor and the most expensive need not always indicate the best. It is possible to find clinics that do not charge consultation fees and who will include free test shots in order to gauge skin reaction. Clinics should also break down treatments into facial areas at no extra charge in order to spread costs, for instance having your upper lip and chin treated first and then as finances allow, moving onto other facial areas.

How to find a good clinic

Ruby Lasers fall into the category of Class 4 laser products and as such their use has to be regulated by the Local Health Authority under the Registered Homes Act 1984 for the use of specially controlled techniques. It is the responsibility of the local Nursing Homes Registration Officer who will be only too pleased to supply details of the registered clinics and the lasers that they use. This registration covers the safety aspect of the use of lasers but does not have any bearing on the effectiveness of the treatment. As a condition of this registration, treatment may only be carried out with the authorisation of the clinic doctor, and by a trained laser clinician. The certificate of registration and the clinicians training certificate must by law be displayed in the clinic. Never go to an unregistered clinic. After reading this article you should now be armed with the information to decide if someone isn't being 100% truthful.

What to do next

The next step is to telephone the clinic concerned and ask as many questions as you feel relevant.

  • Is the clinic health authority registered ?
  • Which laser is in use?
  • Are consultations free?
  • Who will carry out the treatment?
  • Does the clinic set aside special times to treat TG/TV clients?
  • Can you bring a friend?
  • Will you be made welcome?

Ask for a brochure and if you are happy with all of the facts make an appointment for a consultation. You are bound to feel vulnerable and a little self-conscious as this is a very personal issue. It is important that you have the trust and confidence in the clinic and the clinician who will carry out your treatment. Never be afraid to ask the clinicians background, experience and commitment.

Cristianos laser clinic has been established for over 10 years with clinics in Manchester, London, Leeds and Lancashire specialising in all types of laser hair removal inc dark skin and light hair along with skin treatments for the trans community inc active acne, thread veins and Rosacea. Free consultations and test patches. For more information see www.cristianos.co.uk or contact info@cristianos.co.uk

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