Many plastic surgery offices are proud to offer the Galaxy Laser System. This laser combines the power of IPL (intense pulsed light) and RF (radiofrequency ablation), as well as a Diode Laser. This allows safe laser hair removal of all colors (including white, grey, red and blonde) - from all skin types, including tanned skin. Elos technology (the combination of IPL and RF) requires less overall energy for superior results and maximum safety. Most patients experience no side effects at all, though a few exhibit some short-term local reddening of the surrounding skin. Laser hair reduction treatments in a plastic surgery office requires no patient downtime. The number of necessary treatments depends on hair color and skin type, and the part of the face or body that the hair is to be removed from. Typically, four to six treatments are required for substantial hair reduction. Light hair will require a higher number of treatments.
Around 22% of women in North America have unwanted facial hair. Other commonly treated areas include armpits, arms, and legs, as well chest and back areas in men. The market for hair reduction in this country exceeds 2 billion dollars, annually. Laser hair removal came onto the hair reduction scene in mid 1990's, pushing aside older techniques including shaving, waxing, depilatory creams, and electrolysis. The older techniques are fraught with numerous downsides, such as pain, dermatitis, hyper and hypopigmentation, and inefficiency. Of note, ornithine (Vaniqa) became approved in 2000 as the first topical cream for hair removal. Results with this cream are variable.
Laser hair removal's goal is permanent hair reduction. According to the FDA, permanent hair reduction is defined as reduction of hair density for a period of time equal to one full growth cycle of hair. Of note, there is no treatment available that provides permanent complete hair removal.
In order to understand how laser hair reduction works, it is important to understand the anatomy and growth cycle of your hair follicles. The hair is composed of a bulb, a stem, an isthmus, and an infundibulum, the infundibulum being the portion of the hair past the skin which we can see. The hair has three growth phases: anagen, catagen, and telogen. During anagen, melanin is produced by the bulb, a dark pigment that is transported up the follicle. This is known as the "growth phase" of the hair. During catagen phase, the bulb degenerates and stops producing melanin. Telogen is the phase of resting for the follicle: the bulb is no longer present. At the end of telogen the follicle comes off and then a new anagen phase starts.