Monday, May 12, 2008

The 6 major benefits of Laser Hair Removal

In a previous article we discussed how removing unwanted hair has been practiced throughout the ages. Clearly, getting rid of unwanted hair has been on men and women’s minds for centuries. It is however only in the last decade or so that advances in laser technology, and our understanding of the technology, has opened new and promising avenues to this age old concern.

In 1997, laser hair removal wasn't popular enough to even rank a mention in national plastic surgery statistics. Today, it's the second most popular non-surgical cosmetic procedure in America - and its popularity is still increasing. In 2005 laser hair removal was second only to BOTOX ® as the non-surgical procedure in highest demand. More than 1.5 million treatments were performed in this period. The reason for its popularity is twofold – the changing norms of society with respect to body and facial hair, and the numerous benefits of having hair removed with a laser.

The following are the major benefits:

Larger areas of the body can be treated with laser hair removal than with waxing, electrolysis, plucking or tweezing.

The results are long lasting. No more waxing or shaving… Imagine that…!

Laser hair removal does not cause the irritation that other hair removal methods do, leaving you with nicks, cuts and bumps (which you usually get when you can least afford it!). It saves you time and money. Consider this: for way less than the cost of a Starbucks ® Latte per day you can have unwanted facial hair removed, never to be concerned or self conscious again.

As far as discomfort goes during the treatment, it is way down on the scale compared to waxing and electrolysis. No one that has had laser hair removal will suggest that you are likely to fall asleep during the treatment – it’s after all not a massage! Although individual levels of discomfort very, most people handle laser hair removal without even a topical anesthetic.

Laser hair removal does not require hospitalization, needles, medications, or follow-up medical care. With the technology available today, it has become a lunch-time procedure.

The benefits of laser hair removal, compared to the alternatives, are significant and compelling. In a later article we will explore the risks of laser hair removal, and the questions you should ask when looking for a provider of these services.

Noel Halgreen
S├Ána MedSpa

BOTOX® is a registered trademark owned by Allergan, Inc.
Starbucks® is a registered trademark owned by Starbucks U.S. Brands Corporation

The History of Hair Removal

If you thought that the wish to get rid of unwanted hair is a 20th century phenomenon... you’re wrong! Evidence points back as far as the caveman attempting to get rid of facial hair with sharp stones. The Sumerians removed hair with tweezers. Ancient Arabians used string... doesn’t sound real practical today, but was probably leading edge technology in the day! Egyptians, including Cleopatra, also did it -- some with bronze razors they took to their tombs, others with sugar and others – probably in anticipation of what was to come many centuries down the line - with beeswax. And so we move through the ages...merrily plucking, shaving and tweezing!

As an alternative, there were lotions and creams – called depilatories (from the Latin, meaning completely + deprive of hair), which dissolved hair above the surface of the skin....much the same way it is still used today. In discussing hair removal options – past and present - it is important to remember that waxing, sugaring, tweezing and electrolysis methods all remove hair from the roots. Ouch! Waxing uproots the hair from its follicles (shiver!!) for the smoothest results of all temporary hair removal methods. Depilatories chemically destroy the hair. The one we all know – shaving - merely slices it off at skin level, just to restart the cycle of hair growth again.

A study conducted by Gillette in 1990 puts the wish to get rid of unwanted hair into perspective. The survey found that 92 percent of women 13 or older in the United States shave their legs, though not necessarily exclusively.

Laser technology was popularized in the 60’s, but was not yet sufficiently developed to be able to eliminate the hair without collateral skin damage.

In 1995 – a century after the discovery of X-rays – the FDA approved the first laser for laser hair removal in the US. Results of this laser turned out to not live up to the promises. In 1997 the FDA approved several lasers that target the melanin in hair for laser hair removal. Hair removal by Laser is not to be confused with electrolysis. Electrolysis is a method of removing individual hairs one-at-a-time by directing an electric current into each hair follicle. This is rather time consuming, as you can imagine – but it does work. Removing hair with a laser is currently the most effective way to get rid of large amounts of unwanted hair.