September 10, 2014

Despite many women (and men) trying to get rid of their body and facial hair, it protects the skin against ultraviolet light, insulates the skin against temperature changes and is a barrier to foreign objects and insects.

Hence, removing hair is almost always done for perceived cosmetic or social reasons. It is important to understand in this context that certain hair-removal techniques can damage the skin and produce dark spots, in particular on Asian skin, that may last a long time.

Depilation is hair removal above the level of the pore (follicular opening) and epilation is the damaging of both the hair and the hair bulb below the level of the skin surface.

What are the different types of hair?

All hair is dead protein. Hair’s superficial appearance depends upon its anatomical location. Fine poorly pigmented hair tends to grow on certain parts of the face like the upper cheeks and forehead.

Thick darker hairs grow on the edges of the eyelids and brows, the male jaw-line, the scalp, nostrils, and pubic areas.

These characteristics often change as one ages. The palms, soles, and the vermilion of the lips do not have hair or hair follicles.

What are the pros and cons of laser hair removal?

Laser light is absorbed by pigment in the hair causing the production of heat that can be used to destroy both the hair and adjacent tissues.

When done correctly in the appropriate patient, only the follicular tissues are damaged resulting in hairlessness for an extended period of time.

The process may have to be repeated several times before there is any permanent result. This is because the light can only target hair that is in the growing – Anagen – stage of the hair growth cycle.

Patients with contrasting light skin color and dark hair are the easiest to treat where as patients with skin types IV, V and VI (i.e. those in whom there is little color difference between skin and hair) the treatment can be challenging.

Higher skin types i.e. darker skin require lasers that generate longer wavelength light such as the 1064nm available at Cutis Medical Laser Clinics which can be considered a ‘color blind’ laser.

The 1064nm is not concerned with the pigments in the skin and only targets the pigments in the hair follicle which is located at at different depth.

Laser hair removal should only be performed by an experienced medical practitioner such as Dr. Sylvia Ramirez of Cutis Medical Laser Clinics who has been trained by the manufacturer of operating the 1064nm as well as other IPL based hair removal equipment such as the Limelight and LHE Radiancy.

Results from a poor choice of treatment and/or operator are frequently darkening of the treated skin and actual thermal burns.