Laser hair removal is an incredibly popular and effective aesthetic procedure, with hundreds of thousands of patients treated each year. Due to its popularity, there has been a rapid expansion of medical practices and competing businesses offering this procedure. Given the number of different providers offering laser hair removal and the number of competing devices used to perform the procedure, it can be incredibly difficult for consumers considering it to weigh the effectiveness, safety, and value. Let’s look at a few simple questions that can help you navigate the confusion.
1) Who is performing the procedure?
The Ohio State Medical Board has traditionally been conservative with their laser usage regulations, typically only allowing physicians to operate Class 1 laser devices. Several years ago, a carve-out was made, allowing physician extenders and licensed cosmetic therapists to operate hair removal devices under physician supervision. As of July 2021, the laws have been further modified, allowing therapists to operate laser hair removal devices, even if the supervising physician is off site, as long as they have completed fifty hours of training.
That means your procedure could be performed by anyone from a board-certified physician all the way to a cosmetic therapist with no medical training other than on-the-job experience.
Does it matter if your laser hair removal isn’t performed by a board-certified physician?
It might, especially if you experience a side effect of treatment. Do you trust the person performing the procedure to take care of you if something goes wrong? Hair removal lasers are ablative devices, which means they destroy their targets, and their power needs to be understood and respected.
Using the wrong settings or not considering the skin’s unique color, thickness, and location on the body could lead to ineffective treatments, pigmentation changes, and even scarring.
2) What is the wavelength of the laser?
The answer to this is simple, and while it may seem like an overly technical question to ask, the answer will tell you an incredible amount about both the device and the person performing your procedure. If the device operator cannot tell you the wavelength of the laser, then they do not understand the fundamental physics and physiology behind laser hair removal.
Lasers work by targeting a specific pigment within the skin – in this case, brown-colored melanin pigment within the hair follicle – by rapidly heating it with a wavelength of light that is only absorbed by that specific pigment and doesn’t affect the surrounding skin structures. Laser wavelength determines how deep a laser penetrates into the skin, and what skin colors can safely be treated by the device.
3) What laser is being used for your hair-removal treatment?
Lasers commonly used for hair removal and their associated wavelengths include:
The Alexandrite laser (755nm)
Diode laser (800nm)
Nd:Yag laser (1064nm)
Another type of device, the IPL (intense pulsed light) or BBL (broad band light), is a light-based device that uses light filters, rather than actual laser light, to destroy hair follicles. These treatments tend to be less effective than laser-based devices and require many more treatments.
A clear understanding of the mechanism by which laser treatments work will allow the provider to optimize the effectiveness of the therapy and minimize the potential for side effects.
4) Will laser hair removal hurt?
Traditional laser hair removal could be quite uncomfortable, most often described as feeling like being snapped by a hot rubber band. New technology that fine tunes the time over which the energy of the laser is delivered to the skin, and improvements in skin cooling techniques have made modern hair removal devices both safer and more comfortable. Laser hair removal doesn’t have to hurt!
5) How long will a treatment take?
Again, technological advances have significantly improved the power and speed at which laser hair removal can be performed. A slow device is typically an obsolete device.
6) How many treatments will I need?
This is also variable depending on laser type, power, body location, skin color, hair color and hair diameter. A reasonable expectation would be at least a 90+% improvement with 4-6 treatments.
Laser Hair Removal at Northeast Dermatology
Northeast Dermatology currently offers laser hair removal with the Motus AX device. Its most impressive feature is that it offers a nearly painless experience for patients receiving the treatment. It offers impressive power, speed, and safety.
The Motus AX is an Alexandrite laser, and we have found its 755nm wavelength to be the gold standard for removing hair in as few treatments as possible. As an example, its speed allows us to treat an entire adult back in under twenty minutes.
Advanced energy delivery technology makes the Motus AX safe for all skin colors, opening treatment options for darker-skinned patients who traditionally were not candidates for laser hair removal.
In our office, you will have a licensed medical provider performing the procedure and also get highly competitive pricing.
If you want to know more about painless laser hair removal, get in touch today!