There is no such thing as a single “best” laser for hair removal on all patients. The best laser for laser hair removal for each person really depends on his or her skin colour. Thus, multiple lasers exist for hair removal. Diﬀerent laser types, which emit distinct wavelengths of light, are better for treating diﬀerent skin types. There are a number of manufacturers that make these laser types:
- Alexandrite lasers. These emit laser light at 755 nm. These lasers work best on lighter skin. In my opinion, it has been the most impressive laser for hair removal for light to olive skin types.
- Diode Lasers. These emit light at a wavelength of 810 nm. Lighter skin types do well with this type of laser, as do some darker skin types.
- Nd: YAG lasers. These emit a 1064 nm wavelength. This laser is best for darker skin types, as the higher wavelength reaches deeper into the skin. This helps to avoid superﬁcial skin melanin, which pigments our skin.
- IPL or Intense Pulsed Light. It has been used for hair removal. Lasers emit light at one wavelength (like laser pointers in PowerPoint presentations). IPL machines produce a range of wavelengths (like the cone of light from a torch one sees in cartoons) and are not lasers. So, there is no such thing as an “IPL laser” or “IPL laser hair removal”- it’s a marketing ploy for businesses that have IPL machines and not hair removal lasers (the only exception to the rule are the few machines out there that have both lasers and IPL machines in them). Several studies have shown that IPL is not as eﬀective as dedicated hair removal lasers, and carry a higher risk of burns, blisters, and changes in pigment.
In my experience, the Alexandrite laser is the most eﬀective laser for removing hair on the lighter skin, whereas the Nd: YAG is the safest and best laser for more darkly pigmented skin. Remember, every laser has a “target.” For hair removal lasers, the goal is to selectively target the pigment (in other words colour) which in this case is called melanin found in hair follicles. Melanin is the reason why we have black or brown hair or shades in between. The hair follicles are living cells which make hair below the surface of the skin. When the melanin is selectively heated, this destroys the hair follicle cells. The lighter the hair, the less melanin the hair follicles will have in them. As a result, hair that is blonde, white or grey does not improve with laser hair removal. In my practice, I have actually seen some patients notice a decrease in lighter hairs, but it ’s the exception and not the rule.
Melanin is also present in skin and is the cause for dark skin and suntans. It is the same target that the hair removal laser is trying to reach in hair follicles. Hair removal lasers may target the melanin in the skin as well as in the hair follicles which sometimes results in burns, blisters, and change in skin pigmentation. As a result, lower settings and longer laser pulse times must be used for darker skin to avoid damage. As a consequence, more overall treatment sessions will usually be necessary.
Remember, laser hair removal is a medical procedure and you should always consult with a doctor who has extensive experience in lasers and laser hair removal. This will maximize your chances of a great result.
Thanks for reading!
Dr. Tim – Sydney Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon
Although the hands of time cannot be completely turned back, facial rejuvenation can slow down or even reverse some of the natural aging processes which produce lines and wrinkles, age spots, broken capillaries, dull skin, and uneven tone and texture. Other ﬂaws include loss of collagen and elastin, resulting in sagging skin, gaunt faces, dark circles and puﬃness under the eyes. Open pores and acne scars also appear more visible.
There are 4 things that happen to our face as we age:
- Volume loss (mainly fat)
- Sagging tissues because of gravity
- Facial bones thin out and become lighter
- Skin thins, develops ﬁne lines and wrinkles, as well as, brown patches
I think of skin and facial rejuvenation in terms of the 5 Rs:
- Relax: refers to using anti-wrinkle injections which so often wrinkles caused by muscle movement. The facial muscles of expression, if used too much, can result in “frown lines” between the eyes, “worry lines” of the brow or “crow’s feet” beside the eyes. By relaxing the muscles responsible for these expressions, we are able to interfere with the development or progression of such lines.
- Reﬁll: various products, from ﬁllers to one’s own fat, can be used to address facial volume loss. Such techniques are used in the treatment of deeper wrinkles, folds and expression lines that are too deep to be adequately aﬀected by resurfacing.
- Resurface: refers to methods that remove the outer layers of the skin to yield a smoother, more even-coloured texture. These techniques are used to treat sun-damaged, weathered, or aged skin. These are useful for dealing with wrinkling of the skin, blotchiness, roughness and loss of lustre e.g. facials, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and lasers.
- Redrape: refers to traditional surgical interventions that improve areas of redundant skin. Overtime and with accumulated sun damage, the skin loses its elasticity and may begin to sag. This is especially true in the lower face and neck although laxity of the brow skin and eyelids is also common. Most treatments for signiﬁcant sagging of the face require surgical interventions e.g. facelifts, brow lifts, eyelid lift surgery.
- Removal: It is not uncommon to develop unwanted bumps, broken blood vessels, brown spots or tags on the skin, especially on the face and neck. All of these can be treated by simple removal techniques. In many cases, liposuction (removal of fat) can tighten the neck adequately without actually removing skin surgically.
Today, in the ﬁeld of cosmetics, reﬁll is much more appreciated in our approach to facial rejuvenation. Temporary ﬁllers like hyaluronic acid (HAs) are considered the gold standard. Fillers are often combined in diﬀerent areas of the face to recreate youthful contours, sometimes referred to as a “liquid facelift.” My go-to ﬁllers for correcting hollows under the eyes, cheekbones or lips are HAs or fat. Vertical lip lines are treated with a combination of HAs and anti-wrinkle injections or laser resurfacing.
Fat transfer can be used to replace volume in most areas of the face including the temples (a much-neglected area until recently), cheeks, jawline, nasolabial folds, and marionette lines. It gives reliable, natural-looking results, and even improves the texture of the skin. Fat transfer is an easy, economical, safe, and comfortable means of volume replacement for the face. Fat is harvested from an area of excess fat such as the hip, thigh, or abdomen.
The fat is then processed and placed in small amounts to resculpt the facial contours of the face. Fat transfer is usually done under general anaesthesia. Fat is also an excellent choice for rejuvenating the hands, as it camouﬂages the appearance of visible tendons and dilated veins.
There are so many choices available for skin and facial rejuvenation. One can create a natural and gradual volume replacement. The “cookie cutter” approach to ﬁllers is out. Discussing the 5 Rs and how the various techniques are used in combination for skin and facial rejuvenation can aide in maximising outcomes.
Question: What signs of facial aging trouble women the most? You can leave a comment below.