To be successful the laser operator must accomplish 3 things.
- Destroy the hair follicles at the base of the hair shafts
- Destroy the stem cells that surround the hair shaft that can grow new follicles.
- Protect the skin from being injured.
If you have dark hair, light skin and no recent sun exposure, step 1 is not difficult. But that alone will only give you a temporary result. You have to destroy the stem cells. Stem cells are clear and colorless. There is no way for any laser to heat them directly. To destroy stem cells, the laser must be powerful enough to heat the hair shaft just under the skin. It is this heated hair shaft that destroys the stem cells that surround the hair shaft. That is why you must not wax or pluck for 2 weeks before your treatment. Older lasers need you to have some stubble to transfer enough heat to the follicle and to heat the stem cells. Newer more powerful lasers are so strong that hair on the surface just gets in the way and causes discomfort.
Recently tanned skin is much more susceptible to burning. NEVER get a tan 2 weeks before your laser treatment!
Your skin needs to be protected during the treatment. Cooling the skin is critical. Older lasers have no cooling, the operator has to apply cold air to the skin. Better lasers have devices built-in that spray cold liquid on the skin before each pulse of the laser. The newest lasers 613 blonde wig use continuous contact cooling, the laser itself is very cold and lays on your bare skin. This provides maximum protection and comfort.
Some hair follicles are very deep. If the laser can’t penetrate deep enough, only the hair shaft gets heated. The follicle survives and grows new hair. The secret is a combination of the laser’s power and the laser’s spot size. Older lasers have very small spot sizes, about the size of a dime. The light at the center of the spot goes the deepest. At the edges of the spot, the light penetrates superficially. Adding more power to a small spot can be counter productive. The light in the center can go so deep it heats tissue below the follicle which just causes pain. With a small spot size you tend to see “striping” or long lines of hair that were missed.
Ask for a free consultation with the person that will actually be doing your treatment and ask the following:
- Do I need to have some stubble before you do the treatment? (Best answer: shave right before the treatment.)
- Can I get a tan or wax before the laser treatment? (Best answer: NO! But it is OK to get a tan and wax after the treatment.)
- How big is your spot size? (Best answer: The bigger the better.)
- How do you protect my skin during the treatment? (Best answer: The laser is very cold and is constantly touching your skin.)