So you’ve got some hair somewhere that you are just dying to get rid of. Maybe you’re sick of shaving it, or maybe you can’t even reach to shave it. Waxing doesn’t last very long, and most of the other products on the market are either are ineffective or outright scams.
Then there is the laser. Laser hair removal has been available now for over ten years. Significant technological advances have been made since the fist lasers hit the market. Today’s lasers are more effective and longer lasting, with several receiving clearance to be marketed for “permanent hair reduction”. With all the lasers to choose from, is one laser better than the others, or does your choice of laser even matter?
Hair Removal Lasers: Choosing the Right Equipment
Does your choice of laser affect the ultimate outcome of your treatment? The short answers to these two questions are no and yes. Despite what anyone might tell you, no single laser has been clinically proven to be the best – there simply have not been sufficient comparative trials to establish this. As a result, doctors and clinics tend to promote the virtues of whatever laser they purchased or leased. At $70,000 to $125,000 per machine, you can see why they have a vested interest in promoting their chosen equipment.
Yet while there is not yet a clear-cut winner of the “best laser” designation, certain lasers do work better for people with certain skin types and hair colors. There are several guidelines that are important in helping you choose which laser is right for you.
Laser Safety and Dark Skin: Avoiding Side Effects
The first guideline is this: the longer the laser’s wavelength, the safer it is on darker skin and the fewer side effects. The reason for this is that longer wavelength laser energy tends to penetrate deeper into the skin. This is especially important in people with dark or tanned skin. Nd:YAG lasers have the longest wavelength of current hair removal lasers at 1064nm. Nd:YAG lasers include the CoolGlide, the Lyra, and the Athos. Diode Lasers, with the second longest wavelength of 皮秒激光 current hair removal lasers at 810nm, are also used to treat people with olive to dark complexions. Thus diode lasers are a viable alternative if you cannot find a doctor with an Nd:YAG laser in your area. Popular diode lasers include the LightSheer, LaserLight, and Apex 800.
Laser Speed and Hair Removal Cost: Cutting the Price of Treatment
The second guideline to keep in mind is this: the faster the laser’s repetition rate (the speed at which it “fires”) and the larger its spot size (the size of skin treated with each laser shot) the faster the treatment. For areas such as the legs or back, it is wise to choose a laser that can cover a large area in short time. Alexandrite lasers like the GentleLase have the largest spots sizes available on the market at up to 18mm. The GentleLase is perhaps the fastest on the market at covering large areas. The Lightsheer diode is also quite fast and represents a good alternative if you have olive or brown skin. Generally, the faster the laser, the less your treatment will cost, so it pays to seek out a speedy laser when treating large areas.
Laser Hair Removal: Treatment of Fine Hairs
Finally, if the hair you want removed is fine or light in texture (as opposed to light in color), you might find that it is less responsive to laser treatment than is thicker or coarser hair. In this instance, Alexandrite lasers such as the GentleLase might be your best choice (unless you have dark skin). The GentleLase has been reported to be particularly effective on fine hairs. Nd:YAG lasers are the least effective on fine hairs, and diode lasers fall somewhere in-between.
Ultimately, you must decide upon a laser in consultation with an experienced doctor, for they are best able to determine your precise skin type. Since many laser hair removal offices and clinics offer free consultations and spot checks, it is usually wise to get the opinions of two or more doctors before choosing a laser and a treatment plan.
By doing your research and finding the right laser for you, you will help ensure that your laser hair removal experience will be a successful one (and you might even cut your costs at the same time).