Laser Hair Removal Treatments in Santa Barbara
Comprehending the basics of hair growth is helpful in understanding how to stop it from growing. Hair follicles lie approximately 1 – 5 millimeters under the skin surface, depending on the location of the hair on the body. At the bottom of the hair follicle lies the bulge. Just above the bulge is the bulb. These are the areas of the follicle that control hair growth (and they are the areas that need to be effectively and selectively damaged to stop future growth).
Vellus Hair – the short, fine hair that grows in most places on the body (in both sexes). It is usually light in color and is sometimes called “peach fuzz.”
Terminal Hair – the fully developed hair, which is generally longer, coarser, thicker, and darker than vellus hair. Terminal hair can be black, brown, blond, red, gray, or white.
The color of hair is determined by its melanin content (type and amount). Brown and black hairs contain a type of melanin called eumelanin. The darker a hair is, the more eumelanin it contains. Blonde and red hair contains pheomelanin. Pheomelanin doesn’t absorb laser energy as well as eumelanin, so blonde and red hairs are more difficult to treat than brown or black hairs.
There’s only one FDA-approved Laser Hair Removal. Be sure to ask your specialist to see the packaging of your product to make sure it’s authentic.
- Your hair grows in cycles. The hair that you see on your body is in the active growth (or anagen) phase. However, at any given time, some of your hair is also in a regressing (catagen) or resting (telogen) phase. Hairs in the catagen or telogen phases do not respond to any type of permanent hair removal/reduction treatments. Consequently, treatments need to be performed every 4 – 8 weeks (depending on the area) in order to catch all of the hairs when they are in the anagen stage. Each individual is different, but depending on the technology used and a few other factors, most people require a series of 4-8 procedures to achieve desired results from laser hair removal.
All of us have hair (either vellus or terminal) growing on the vast majority of our bodies. Individuals who are considered “hairy” simply have more terminal hairs than the average person and/or a higher degree of large, dark hairs. Neither vellus nor terminal hair serves any medical purpose (with the exception of the nose and inner ear hair). Furthermore, outside of hair on the head, hair on the body is frequently unwanted due to cosmetic and/or personal hygiene reasons. Thus, there is a large demand for hair removal, both temporary and permanent.
Non-Permanent Hair Removal
Shaving, Tweezing, Waxing, Sugaring, Threading, Depilatory Creams
Non-permanent hair removal either cuts the hair off after it begins to extrude from the skin (shaving), forcibly pulls the hair out by the follicle (tweezing, waxing, sugaring, and threading), or chemically dissolves the hair (depilatories). Though these methods are cheap, they may be uncomfortable. They also do not result in any permanent hair removal or reduction, so they need to be repeated often.
Permanent Hair Removal/Reduction
Electrolysis, Laser Hair Removal, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Hair Removal
In electrolysis, a clinician inserts a small metal probe into the hair shaft and down to the follicle. An electrical current is then discharged to “zap” the follicle. Electrolysis is very effective, but it is time-consuming (the process needs to be repeated on every hair follicle to be treated) and can be painful and expensive. Also, due to the growth cycle of hair, it is still necessary to perform multiple procedures in each treatment area to achieve complete clearance.
Laser and IPL hair removal have become the most popular methods of permanent hair reduction due to their speed, ease, efficacy, and relative cost-effectiveness.
The intention of all permanent hair reduction is to damage hair follicles enough so that they will not continue to grow hair. Laser and IPL technology both target the melanin in the hair follicle. Melanin is the substance that gives skin and hair its color. In laser and IPL hair removal treatments, the melanin in the hair follicle absorbs the light energy, heats, and is damaged – hopefully permanently.
Yes. You have many hair follicles, and all are not damaged sufficiently in one treatment. Also, as discussed in the growth cycle of the hair section, hair must be in a growth phase in order to be effectively targeted by treatment. Typically it takes at 5 – 6 treatments to achieve desired results.
Because hair grows in cycles, it is necessary to do treatments at specific intervals in order to maximize the efficacy. Hair in different areas of the body grows in varying cycles, but the following table is a good approximation of how far apart treatments should be conducted.
|4 – 6 weeks
|6 – 8 weeks
After the first three treatments, it is okay to lengthen the intervals between procedures until you experience hair re-growth. This will usually be 2 months for facial hair and 3 months for body hair.
The treatment time is highly variable depending on the area(s) treated. Small areas such as the upper lip or the chin only take a few minutes. Larger areas such as the legs or back may take an hour or more.
Overall visit time is also increased by the numbing period. In order to apply topical numbing gel, it is necessary to come 45 minutes prior to your procedure time. This helps to maximize the comfort of your treatment.
No. On the contrary, hair should be shaved prior to coming in for your treatment. Laser hair removal targets the hair follicle, which lies underneath the skin’s surface. You should not pluck or wax in the area for at least two weeks prior to your treatment, as these temporary hair removal methods pull the hair out by the follicle, effectively removing the target of the laser.
When you come in for your initial consultation, it is necessary to have 1-2 days of growth so the clinician can see the density, color, and thickness of the hair in the area(s) you are interested in treating.
Fair-skinned individuals have very little melanin in the skin. The darker a person’s skin is, the more melanin it contains. Hair also contains melanin. Most people have more melanin content in their hair than in the surrounding skin. This is why hair is usually darker than the skin. Lasers work by targeting the melanin in the hair follicle. Consequently, dark and coarse hairs absorb the most energy and are the easiest hairs to treat. Blond, gray, red, and white hairs have little to no melanin content. These hairs are not able to be treated by light energy (lasers or intense pulsed light), only electrical energy (either electrolysis or radio frequency).
Melanin in the skin can also be affected by light energy (by absorbing the heat), which is not the intention of the treatment. Thus, the ideal candidate for laser hair removal is light-skinned with dark hair. Depending on how much melanin is in the skin, darker-skinned individuals may still be treated, but for safety reasons, it is necessary to use lower energy levels during treatments. This means that it may take more treatments than usual to achieve the intended results.
When you tan, the amount of melanin in your skin increases. This elevated level of melanin in the skin will absorb some of the laser energy that is targeting the melanin in your hair follicles, decreasing the treatments effectiveness. Furthermore, tanning increases the chances of unintended side effects such as minor burns or skin discoloration. Tanned skin can still be safely treated with lower energy levels, but this will further decrease the effectiveness of the treatment. Consequently, it is not recommended to undergo laser hair removal treatments with tanned skin.
Virtually anywhere on the body can be treated. The only exceptions are inside the nose and ears and immediately around the eyes.
With the technology available at Evolutions, a wide variety of people are good candidates for laser hair removal. However, the following are some examples of when someone may not be a good candidate for laser hair removal:
- – Blond, gray, red, and white hairs have little to no melanin content. These hairs are not able to be treated by light energy (lasers or intense pulsed light), only electrical energy such as electrolysis.
- – Melanin in the skin can be affected by light energy (by absorbing the heat), which is not the intention of the treatment. Thus, the ideal candidate for laser hair removal is light-skinned with dark hair, so the laser targets the pigment in the hair and not the pigment in the skin. Depending on how much melanin is in the skin, darker-skinned individuals may still be treated, but for safety reasons, it is necessary to use lower energy levels during treatments. This means that it may take more treatments than usual to achieve the intended results. Electrolysis may be a good alternative option in certain cases.
- – There are some medical conditions that are contraindications to treatment. These include pregnancy, people who have used Accutane within 6 months, and people who are on photosensitizing medication.
A comprehensive consultation with one of our well-qualified clinicians is the best way to determine if laser hair removal is a good choice for you.
Absolutely. We have many male hair removal clients at Evolutions. The most popular areas to treat are the back, shoulders, neck, and chest.
For the most part, yes. However, due to a number of underlying factors, including hormonal influences on new hair growth (particularly prominent during teen years and menopause), varying individual response to treatment, and the fact that a small percentage of hair follicles are only shocked into long-term dormancy by the burst(s) of energy (rather than being disabled like the majority of the follicles), after completing the initial series it is often times necessary to come in for a single maintenance treatment every 6 – 9 months. For that reason, the FDA requires that laser hair removal treatments be referred to as “permanent hair reduction” rather than “permanent hair removal.” That said, most people are very happy with the permanent clearance they are able to achieve from an initial series.
No. Though all light-based hair removal devices work by attempting to damage the hair follicles’ ability to grow hair, the methods used to accomplish this are variable.
Lasers are a highly focused single wavelength of light. The wavelength is measured in nanometers, with a higher number corresponding to deeper penetration into the skin. The following is a list of common lasers with their associated wavelengths:
• Alexandrite: 755 nm
• Diode: 800 – 810 nm
• Nd:YAG: 1064 nm
The Alexandrite laser is typically the best wavelength for lighter skin types. Nd:YAG lasers are preferable for darker skin types. Diode lasers are versatile and can be used on both light and dark skin types, though most people receive the best results with either Alexandrite or Nd:Yag lasers.
The other form of light-based permanent hair reduction is broadband, or intense pulsed light (IPL). IPLs fire a wide spectrum of light (as opposed to the targeted, single wavelength light of a laser) with the intention of heating the hair follicle enough to permanently damage its ability to grow hair. In general IPLs have not been as successful a method of hair removal as have lasers (IPLs are highly effective when used for skin rejuvenation and to treat pigmentation problems and rosacea, however).
At Evolutions we have had several different permanent hair reduction devices over the years, including Alexandrite, Diode, and Nd:Yag lasers, as well as multiple IPL devices that were optimized for permanent hair removal. Over the tens of thousands of hair removal treatments we have performed since 2005, we have found that the best hair removal technologies for the vast majority of people are the Alexandrite laser (for lighter skin types) and the Nd:Yag laser (for darker skin types). Consequently, we have purchased multiple Candela GentleMax Pro devices for our laser hair removal treatments. The GentleMax Pro device contains both Alexandrite and Nd:Yag lasers and is the gold standard for laser hair removal in the industry today, providing both a high level of efficacy and comfort (due to the cryogen cooling spray fired before each laser pulse).
The technology being used to remove your hair can be very different depending on where you go. The technology (much like the skill of the clinician treating you) is of critical importance to your end result. The bottom line is that all hair removal systems are not created equal, and it is in your best interest to know what devices are available to you and how effective they are. Ask questions and inform yourself.
The feeling is frequently compared to a light rubber band snap. However, Evolutions works hard to make sure that any discomfort associated with the treatment is minimized. We provide each client with complimentary topical numbing cream that is applied 30 – 45 minutes prior to the treatment. The laser technology we currently utilize for hair removal treatments, the GentleMax Pro, also provides a cryogen cooling spray fired before each pulse, which further increases the comfort of the treatment. The combination of these two actions makes the procedure very tolerable for most clients.
It depends on a number of different factors, including what areas you are interested in treating and whether you buy standalone treatments or a package (packages are significantly cheaper than buying the necessary number of treatments individually). We encourage you to call us at 805-284-0052 to schedule a complimentary consultation to review the areas you would like to treat with the clinician. In addition to answering any questions you have and reviewing your medical history, they can give you a specific quote at that time.