The FDA does not allow the words “permanent hair removal” to be associated with laser hair removal reduction as it is a completely different process from electrolysis in that it does not remove the follicle but instead, disables it (see link below). Lasers do have their place in hair removal for specific candidates and areas as listed below.

The best candidates for laser hair removal reduction are Fitzpatrick’s Skin Type I. Very large areas of white skin (non-exposed to the sun), with dense, dark coarse hair, such as legs, backs, bikini-line or underarms are also areas that respond well.

Lasers use light energy (heat) to target pigment (melanin) in hair follicles to disable them. They are ineffective on blonde, gray, white, some types of red hair, and finer pigmented hair since there is little or no melanin in the hair follicle to absorb the heat. The darker the hair and the whiter the skin the better, as higher joules/fluences can be adjusted without worry of pigmentary changes in the skin.

In the past, Melodyne or Meladine, an enzyme spray has been used with little success (about 20% rate has been reported) for laser hair removal reduction on non-pigmented hairs (blonde, gray, white and some red hairs). The spray is used to coat the outside of the hair, used 6-8 times a day, and costs between $50-80 per 8 oz. bottle. Topical anesthetics can make treatments more tolerable with laser hair removal reduction described as feeling like a hard, rubber band-like snapping sensation.

In previous studies following laser treatments, 3 distinct responses have been observed clinically and on post-treatment biopsy specimens:

  • Non-lethal injury to the bulb induces catagen and/or telogen cycles, causing a prolonged or delayed dormancy cycle.
  • Some degree of injury to the bulge induces a long-term or permanent conversion to a vellus hair (miniaturization).
  • Sufficient energy delivered can completely and selectively destroy the follicle through a process called selective photothermolysis.

In practice, what is generally seen is a reduction in the amount of hair, because some of the follicles are destroyed, some are miniaturized into vellus hairs and some are shocked or traumatized into a prolonged dormancy (resting or telogen)cycle.

About “Laser Gadgets”

The “laser gadgets” sold to consumers online for hair removal may work to a lesser degree perhaps for safety reasons, for without the protection of eye shields, laser emitting light would cause eye damage. Since the lasers used for hair removal act to target melanin in the hair, our eyes, which also contain melanin would be also be damaged, as some technicians and researchers have found. It is highly unlikely that consumer protection agencies would put these medical devices into the hands of the general population when there is a potential risk of blindness from their use and misuse.

More information/articles on laser is available here.
For more information on efficacy and/or advertising of laser hair removal (reduction) visit the FDA website for consumers.


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