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Laser Hair Removal - history
The advent of laser machines in the 1960ís excited both scientists and the public. The first laser machines used for dermatology emerged in the mid-sixties. A scientist --- Max Goldman --- first described ruby-laser injury to pigmented hair follicles in 1963, which led to further research in how this new technology could be used.
This first type of laser machine sent out a continuous wave which proved impractical for removing hair from skin, since the laser beam could not be controlled enough to avoid damage to the surrounding skin.
The development of the Q switch, which could be compared to the shutter on a camera, allowed the laser light to be emitted in controlled pulses. This development reduced damage to skin further.
The next phase of more advanced laser machine was introduced in approximately 1969. These machines worked by targeting the individual hair follicle and delivering the energy through a fiber optic probe. The general consensus of opinion seems that this device was rushed onto the market, and proved to be both ineffective and painful.
From 1979 research led to a commercial attempt to remove hair with a laser with an argon beam. It turned out to be both tedious and ineffective for body hair removal. Despite this, there was some limited success in treating vascular lesions such as thread veins, and tattoo removal.
Eventually, the use of a skin cream containing carbon particles, followed by treatment with a Q-switched Nd:YAG laser was the first treatment for laser hair removal approved by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This initial method reportedly delayed re-growth by 3 months, but it did not provide permanent hair reduction.
Laser hair removal systems are still evolving. The laser hair removal systems currently used are relatively new and long-term results have not been reported or fully assessed, so you would be wise to exercise caution.
In 1983, researchers Oshiro and Maruyama reported hair loss after treatment with a ruby laser. However, at strengths affecting hair follicles, the skin was severely damaged. Since then, the market has been flooded with numerous hair-removing lasers and light sources, some of which are mentioned here.
An optically filtered xenon laser (Epi Light, ESC Luxar; Energy Systems Corp, Needham, MA) uses filters to select operating wavelengths of light with a certain cut off point. This allows light above this wavelength to pass through.
The long-pulse ruby laser (EpiLaser 694 nm, Palomar Technologies, Lexington, MA; EpiTouch, Sharplan Laser, Allendale, NJ) uses the principle of selective thermolysis and melanin (the pigment or color in your skin and hair) acts as the target.
The long-pulse alexandrite laser (PhotoGenica LPIR 755 nm; Cynosure Inc, Chelmsford, MA) is based on the principle of thermokinetic selectivity and targets melanin in the hair follicle. In this way, the epidermis is allowed to cool efficiently while the melanin in the hair follicle is heated.
There are lists of laser machines which are currently used cosmetically, and those machines which are discontinued, on the internet. You may wish to consult these lists before agreeing to any treatment.
As a consumer, and as the guardian of your own body, you should ensure that you check out any clinic or practitioner offering laser hair removal in detail, until you are sure that you will not be harmed, and secondly, you get what you pay for.
About the Author: Independent Author in Thailand