How it Works The Science Behind Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal is usually the first thing that comes to mind when looking for an effective and more permanent solution in getting rid of unwanted hair. Apart from it being able to give you silky, smooth skin without the hassle of waxing or shaving, you also don’t have to worry about making mistakes, missing spots, or ingrown hairs.

What laser hair removal does is use a laser light source to target the pigment in the hair and destroy the follicles with heat. It uses a machine with a handheld device that directs the concentrated light into the hair follicle without damaging or disrupting the skin’s surface. This then inhibits the hair’s ability to grow, resulting in permanent hair reduction.

What is needed for long-term hair removal?

One important key to disrupting new hair growth is damaging the follicles. Not all hair removal methods can do this, as most only target the hairs above the surface. Shaving, for instance, only cuts the hair and leaves the follicle intact. Waxing, on the other hand, may pull the hair from the root, but the follicle remains intact in the dermis.

Laser hair removal goes beyond by actually targeting the hair follicle. As previously mentioned, it damages the follicles, so they are not able to continue growing hairs. But how does a laser achieve this? What are the factors that affect the laser’s ability to permanently remove or reduce unwanted hair? 

How does the treatment work?

The laser emits a specific wavelength of light, which indicates what the laser targets and how far it will penetrate the skin. There is also the pulse duration, which refers to the amount of time the hair strand is exposed to the light, and fluence or the amount of energy delivered per the skin’s unit area.

The laser’s intensity, as well as the amount of laser’s exposure to the skin and the total amount of energy delivered allow the hair shaft or strand to heat itself. The heat will then scatter or spread into the hair shaft’s surrounding cells (stem cells) to damage or disintegrate them. The skin remains undamaged, but the root of the hair follicles is destroyed.

It is important to keep in mind that for laser hair removal to work, the targeted hairs need to be in a specific growth phase. The Anagen or the active growth stage is the ideal phase for laser and similar methods. This is because the hairs in this stage are rich in keratin and melanin, making them receptive to the laser light.

Here are the three growth phases:

  • Phase 1/Anagen – active growth phase where the hair is attached to the papilla of the follicle and where melanin is most present. 
  • Phase 2 /Catagen – transition phase where the hair stops growing and detaches from the base, as well as starts to shed.  
  • Phase 3/Telogen –  the resting stage where the follicle is inactive and all activity stops. The hair follicle will then go back to the anagen cycle again. 

Only about 20% of the hair is in the anagen or active growth phase. This is why several sessions of laser hair removal are needed. Do take note that the duration of the anagen stage depends on several factors, such as your age, genetics, and general health.

What laser hair removal device do we use?

At Cutis Medical Laser Clinics, we have the Cutera CoolGlide laser (Nd: YAG 1064 nm), which is a US FDA-cleared laser technology for permanent hair reduction. This method delivers concentrated pulses of light, targeting the follicles. Then, the hair’s pigment absorbs the light and converts it to heat, which in turn damages the follicle and stunts hair growth.

It is also good to know that Cutera CoolGlide has a built-in cooling design that cools the area as it glides along. Also, it has the ability to create longer wavelengths and emit light energy to heat hundreds of follicles at a time. It is also safe for all skin types and tones, including those with darker and tanned skin. It is effective on coarse hairs, but can also treat fine hairs. 

This method can treat almost any area of the body, such as the:

  • Face
  • Arms and underarms
  • Chest
  • Back
  • Legs
  • Bikini area

Laser hair removal can treat or target about 80 to 90% of excess or unwanted hair. Any hair left behind should be fine and light. Do take note that there are instances where the damaged follicles heal, resulting in regrowth. The hairs, however, are finer because the pigment is treated and removed during the procedure. This is why multiple sessions are required in getting silky, smooth skin (free of hair). 

Read our previous post and learn what you can expect with laser hair removal. 

Are you looking for a more permanent way to tackle unwanted hair? Contact Cutis Medical Laser Clinics in Singapore today to learn more about laser hair removal and other permanent hair reduction methods. Book a consultation with our aesthetic doctor to find out if you’re a good candidate for one of our hair removal treatments.

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