Laser Treatment - history and more general information

A 'Snap' shot of Laser Hair Removal >>
Lasers used for hair removal >>
Skin tightening procedures >>
Skin tightening technology >>

A 'Snap' shot of Laser Hair Removal  

Excess or unwanted hair has been traditionally treated with a multitude of techniques that were slow, tedious, and of limited efficacy. 

The introductions of lasers over 10 years ago and more recently light based techniques have revolutionized the approach to the removal of hair and has become the fastest growing procedure in modern cosmetic dermatology. The wider clientele includes men wanting excessive hair reduced, and clients with darker skins that can be safely and efficiently treated these days with the Nd YAG laser.

Permanent hair reduction is achievable, and is defined by the FDA (Food Drug Administration) as a long term stable reduction in the number of hairs re-growing after a regime which includes a series of treatments.

There are a number of lasers and Intensive Pulse Light (IPLs) on the market; the most used and efficient for white skin type 1 to 3 remain the Alexandrite and Ruby lasers, for darker skins NdYAG is the safe choice, and IPLs are efficient in treating all skin types and larger areas. [See types of lasers below]

The number of treatments depend on the individual’s characteristics; skin type, hair colour and coarseness, area to be treated, hormones, and medical conditions such as polycystic ovaries all play a role in the number of treatments and outcome. 

An experienced laser technician can successfully tailor the choice of lasers and its parameters to the client’s individual characteristics, thus optimising the outcome and limiting the adverse reactions. 

The rate of hair reduction cannot be predicted but areas such as bikini, underarms, chin, upper lip with coarse black hair on white skin get best results quicker.  

A cooling device such as a cryogen/cool glide/ice needs to be used to reduce the absorption of light by the surrounding skin and allow the heat to be absorbed by the target which is the Melanin in the hair; the darker the hair the more the absorption. Red and blonde hair with little melanin respond poorly to treatment and the white ones do not respond at all. 

Safe preparation means no tan, or self tan, at the time of treatment, and avoidance of sun exposure post treatment; SPF 15+ cream is recommended to be used on areas exposed to sun.  
Post treatments normal reaction such as redness and swelling should resolve in a few hours . 

Unwanted side effects: burns, hyper-hypo pigmentation take months to resolve.  
Lasers and light- assisted hair removal still have limits but when properly used offer clear advantages over older technologies and are efficient ways of permanently reducing excessive hair growth and improve the quality of life of millions of men and women.

Lasers used for hair removal   

There are several methods of laser hair treatment and for each method there are various laser products.  

The Ruby Laser is the oldest type of hair removal laser and works best for fine and light hair. Ruby lasers for hair removal were cleared by the FDA to market in the U.S. in 1997. The Ruby Laser cannot be used on patients with darker skin, including people with tanned skin. This and other factors, such as the relatively small area that they cover, have made Ruby lasers increasingly less popular for laser hair removal in recent years. 

Studies with short-term follow-up have observed 20% to 60% reduction at 3 months. Another found a fluence-dependent relationship at a range of 38% to 49% reduction at 3 months, which compared favourably to electrolysis and waxing. A large short-term study observed that about two-thirds of subjects had over 50% reduction at 3 month. 

The Alexandrite Laser is one of the most widely used lasers for hair removal. Ideal for patients with light-to-olive complexion. Alexandrite lasers for hair removal were cleared by the FDA to market in the U.S. in 1997. 

A short-term study of 130 female subjects was carried out, having an average of 8 facial treatments over 18 months. Researchers observed an average 75% reduction for dark hair at 3 months, and 10% for light hair. A similar study noted 81% to 95% reduction at 3 months after 3 to 5 treatments. One study of treatments at the bikini found an average of 43% reduction at 6 months plus “one growth cycle” after a single treatment, with 60% of sites having greater than 30%. Another study with five bikini treatments observed 78% reduction at 12 months after final treatment.

The Diode Laser is most effective for darker skin types and is less effective on lighter, finer hair. It covers large areas and has fast repetition rates, allowing brisk treatment of large body areas. The first published study observed less than 5% to 13% reduction at 8 months. 

A short-term study study observed 34% reduction at 3 months. A longer study observed between 53% and 34% reduction at 6 months and about 20 months.

The long pulse Nd:Yag laser can be safely used in all skin types. This laser has limitations in treating successfully fine and lighter hairs. The one published study found 15 subjects had 59% reduction at 3 months. Sites receiving one or two treatments were observed to have 39% and 50% reduction at 12 months, respectively.

Intense Pulsed Light Devices are not lasers, but are “laser equivalents” in the sense that they use the same concept of selective photothermolysis to accomplish hair removal. IPL devices are more difficult to use than lasers and require a very skilled and experiences technician to operate. They are quicker and are useful for treating larger areas.

Skin tightening procedures   

Laser skin tightening is a safe, effective way to lessen the effects of time. Using advanced laser technology, the collagen beneath the surface of the skin is heated, causing it to constrict, thus tightening loose facial skin and giving the appearance of firm, youthful skin with less fine lines and wrinkles. 

Laser skin tightening is a popular minimally-invasive alternative to surgical procedures. It does not require incisions, so patients do not suffer from bruising, bleeding, or lengthy recovery periods. The laser heats the Collagen under the surface of the skin, causing the Collagen to contract, thus tightening facial skin and loose skin on the neck, arms, and body.

Best results are for the lower part of the face, jowls and neck area where the skin is relaxed and moves easily over the underlying tissues. There are lasers that use infrared light source (a laser) to heat and tighten the skin or a system that uses radio frequency energy instead. 

Both methods reportedly cause little patient discomfort, and results can be sometimes be seen immediately after the treatment, but results improve with time as new Collagen is produced.

Laser skin tightening is an effective, minimally invasive option for people of all skin types and skin tones.

With all these technologies you need to be realistic about your expectations because there is no non-surgical treatment alternative that will result in a surgical outcome.

Skin tightening technology 

There are a number of technologies for “tightening”the skin and these are based on the principle of heating the upper layer of the dermis and stimulating Collagen growth. With all these technologies you need to be realistic about your expectations and feel completely comfortable with what you're signing up for, because there is no non-surgical treatment alternative that will result in a surgical outcome. Here are the latest systems and what the companies say about their product.


Cutera, Inc. makes the Titan ("tighten") skin tightening laser, which is a safe, non-surgical process that uses an infrared light source to tighten skin and reverse the signs of aging. The Titan heats the dermis to cause Collagen contraction while preserving the epidermis through continuous cooling.

In addition, Titan can stimulate long-term Collagen rebuilding that leaves patients with younger looking skin. This device has also been used successfully in other body areas such as the abdomen, arms, upper chest, and thighs. Most patients notice immediate changes which gradually improve over several weeks. There is hardly any pain, to the point of needing no anesthesia. There is no down time and no incisions or scars either. 
Many patients look much better and younger after the procedure, because the results are a remarkable natural look which plastic surgery can rarely match.

In spring of 2006, Cutera introduced 3D Rejuvenation, a highly effective trio of laser treatments designed to target uneven pigment, pore size, wrinkles, and elicit Collagen contraction over time. 3D treatment includes three of Cutera's best technologies: Photo Genesis, Laser Genesis, and Titan.

Thermage targets the Collagen incorporated in the under layers with Capacitive Radio frequency (CRF) technology that tightens and contours the skin to create a smoother tone and more youthful appearance. A treatment will last from 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on the areas of skin the patient wishes to treat. 

One of the most compelling reasons for the Thermage popularity is its instant-gratification factor. Results begin immediately as soon as treatment takes place and improvements to the skin's texture and appearance will continue as new Collagen grows, often for months.

Like any medical technology, over time the providers develop techniques and strategies to maximize the potential of the treatment.

Several other technologies have entered the marketplace and are gaining in popularity as the public becomes aware of the existence of skin tightening procedures. 

Refirme offers a non-surgical and much less painful alternative for patients wanting to achieve skin tightening and improvement in skin laxity through wrinkle reduction on the neck, face, and other areas of the body. Another advantage of ReFirme is that with a pulse repetition rate of one pulse per second, and using Syneron's unique elos technology, the ReFirme treatment is one of the fastest and most effective on the market for the purpose of skin tightening and wrinkle reduction.

Aluma by

Aluma skin renewal treatments turn back the clock and gently reverse the aging process. This revolutionary technique delivers energy safely and comfortably to the underlying layers of the skin, gently stimulating the production of new Collagen, while protecting the outer layer of the skin. The new collagen that is formed plumps and smoothes the skin, making it appear more youthful.

The Aluma system with FACES technology works by creating a controlled volume of heated tissue in the dermis (deeper skin layers). Improving on earlier technology such as Thermage, Aluma's technology is truly a breakthrough approach to treatment. 

The vacuum-assisted and bipolar radio-frequency (RF) hand piece conforms to the skin to allow the energy to safely bypass the epidermis (top layers of the skin) and places the dermis (deeper skin layers) directly in line with the beam of energy.

The RF energy is restricted only to the intended target, thus limiting any pain previously associated with skin tightening methods. Energy is deposited deep within the dermis, creating a uniform and contained zone of heating, which results in Collagen contraction and renewal with little or no discomfort. In the months following treatment, the body's natural processes result in the generation of new Collagen and dermal remodelling. 

As new, "younger" structured Collagen is laid down, the skin looks tighter, firmer and more youthful. A treatment typically takes only 15 minutes and patients can immediately return to work and their normal daily activities.


The GentleYag laser treatment tightens the skin by transferring heat to the deepest layers of the skin. The non-ablative laser creates thermal injury below the epidermis resulting in a healing response to the upper dermis. This process then causes the dwelling fibroblasts to stimulate the precursors of Collagen, Elastin, and other proteins. By activating enough of your own Collagen source, wrinkles and sagging skin can diminish within weeks after the treatment.

Some patients have reported that they can see results in just a few days after treatment; however, the optimum results occur anywhere from 4-6 weeks after the treatment. As gravity and the aging process naturally takes place, the skin loses its youthful appearance, but this treatment is a great alternative to a surgical facelift.

Polaris by SyneronPolaris WR is FDA approved and is the latest in the Syneron family of cosmetic non-ablative technologies used for turning back the clock on age and treating skin problems. The Polaris WR is a non-ablative, skin rejuvenation device that uses dual technology - radio frequency and a diode laser. This particular combination of energies is what sets Polaris WR apart from the rest. The scientific principle behind the effectiveness of Polaris is the ability to allow deep dermal thermal (heat) penetration without damaging healthy tissues and with no deleterious effects on the skin surface. Like other non-ablative technologies, it creates just enough thermal stimuli to initiate Collagen growth.


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