Unwanted hair is a problem shared by both women and men. In many cases the condition runs in families. Race can also be a factor — Whites are more prone to having excess facial hair than are Asians and Blacks. Some people experience unwanted or excess hair from the time they reach puberty; others find it to be a condition that gets worse with age. Some women experience additional hair growth during pregnancy or menopause.
Unwanted hair in women is broadly considered to be growth of hair in a pattern resembling that of men – thick hair on the face, arms, chest, back, stomach, and/or thighs. This condition is medically known as hirsutism.
Hirsutism almost always first appears after puberty and often results from diseases that cause increased levels of the hormone androgen. Sometimes no increased level of the hormone is found, and it is assumed that the person's hair follicles make increased amounts of hair in response to normal levels of androgen. Hirsutism can also occur after menopause.
Hair does not come in any one size or type. Follicles in different parts of the body produce differing types of hair. Hair can grow in thick, bushy patches or in long thin strands. In addition, hair is produced in follicles that can be found at different depths and densities — as close to the skin's surface as a millimeter or as deep as five millimeters or more. Until recently, this great variety in hair types and body locations made long-lasting hair removal a significant challenge.
Women prefer ridding themselves of their unwanted hair on the face, especially the upper lip or eyebrow area, in the bikini area, under the arms or on the legs. Men too may have unwanted hair between their eyebrows or on other parts of their face, on their back or chest. They often wish to rid themselves of these unwanted hair.
Shaving, plucking, waxing and depilatory creams provide temporary fixes that are inconvenient, irritating, messy and only temporary. Electrolysis is time consuming, sometimes painful, and is useful only in removing hair from small areas.
Intense Pulse Light (IPL) Systems for Hair Removal
IPL (intense pulsed light) is an innovative breakthrough procedure that is effectively used now to damage hair follicles for long-term hair removal. Unlike conventional laser systems, it uses a broad light spectrum with wavelengths ranging from 590 to 1200 nm (green, yellow, orange, red and infrared). The light energy is used in very carefully timed bursts (pulses) to:
-Maximize the effectiveness of the treatment
-Minimize injury to the surrounding skin tissue
IPL procedure treats the hair by directing light energy through a light guide placed on the client's skin. A thin layer of transparent gel covers the treatment area to focus the light energy and cool the top skin layer. The light energy heats and damages the hair follicle, typically causing the hair itself to fall out from the follicle. IPL procedure is gentle and non-invasive, with nominal side effects.
IPL procedure has proven to be effective on a wide range of hair colors, from blonde through auburn to brown and dark black hair. This is possible by adjusting treatment parameters according to an individual's specific skin color, hair color and hair density and unique attributes of the hair follicle. The IPL procedure, therefore, successfully removes hair from all skin types — from porcelain white through olive to dark brown complexions.
In addition, IPL procedure enables us to efficiently remove hair from any part of the body, no matter how deep the follicles may reside. Treatment of sensitive areas like the lips, ears, nose, underarms and bikini line can usually be tolerated with minimal discomfort.
The IPL procedure enables approximately 100 - 200 hairs to be treated with each flash of the light, so that large swaths of hair on the legs, back and chest can be treated quickly in a single session. Therefore it makes the procedure rapid.
Multiple treatment sessions are typically required for long-lasting hair removal. In a recent clinical study, researchers from Cornell and Duke Medical Centers reported an average hair loss of 64% at six months or more of follow-up after multiple treatments. Study results also confirmed that the IPL hair removal system uniquely achieves significant, long-lasting hair removal through selective cell destruction to hair follicles.
What to Expect
The length of an individual treatment may last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more, depending on the size of the area being treated. The number of treatments required depends on several factors related to specific kinds of hair and skin. It is important to understand that hairs in an active growth phase (anagen) are most affected by treatments. Since all hairs are not in this phase at the same time, several treatments are necessary to achieve the best results. We offer a customized treatment program, and during consultation session give the client an estimate of how many sessions may be needed in order to meet expectations.
The treatment may cause some minor discomfort — clients often describe it as a slight tingling or compare it to a pinch or the sting of a snapped rubber band. Most clients tolerate the procedure well.
The appearance of the treated area immediately following a session will vary from patient to patient, though side effects are rare. Any swelling or redness at the treatment site typically goes away within a couple hours, and most people are able to return to normal activity immediately. The best news is that many of the unwanted hairs are gone at the end of the treatment.
What happens during an IPL treatment?
Before each session begins, system settings are computer-customized according to skin color and type and the area of the body being treated. Treatment begins by trimming away any hair above the surface of the skin and then conducting test spots to determine the patient's skin response to different device settings. Next, a cold gel (similar to ultrasound gel) is spread over the treatment area. This helps keep the skin cool and focus the light treatment. You wear a special eyewear to protect the eyes from the bright light. The device handpiece is moved over the treatment area, while light-based energy is emitted in highly controlled flashes or pulses. This heats up the hair, significantly damaging the regrowth potential of the follicle. Much of the hair is wiped off along with the gel after the treatment. Additional hair may fall out over the next week or two.
How long do treatments last? How many will I need?
Sessions can last from a few minutes to more than an hour, depending on the size of the area being treated. The number of treatments required depends on several factors related to specific skin types and color, thickness and density of hair. Several treatments are necessary to achieve the best results. During the consultation session we will be able to give you an estimate of the necessary number of treatments.
How much time is there between sessions?
Subsequent sessions are scheduled when the hair begins to regrow. The timing for this can range from four to eight weeks, depending on hair type and the part of the body being treated. On average, appointments are scheduled four to six weeks apart.
Are light treatments safe for all skin types?
Yes, this technology can be used to treat unwanted hair on all skin types, including dark-skinned individuals such as those of African, Hispanic or Asian descent, as well as those patients with tanned skin.
Can all hair be treated?
Yes, treatments are customized according to hair color, texture and location. Any hair with at least some pigment can be treated.
What does the treatment feel like?
Most people tolerate the treatments very well. Discomfort is often described as a slight tingling or a pinch similar to the snap of a rubber band. Topical anesthesia can be used when treating particularly sensitive areas of the body.
Are there any possible side effects?
The appearance of the treated area immediately following treatment will vary from patient to patient depending on the extent of the procedure and skin type. Side effects, if any, are usually minor. There may be some redness and swelling around the treated hair follicles; this is a desired clinical result indicating that the follicle has responded to treatment. This reaction typically disappears within hours. Most people return to normal activity right away. On rare occasions, some blistering may occur, but this typically resolves quickly. The skin can become darker or lighter following treatment, but will generally return to normal within a few weeks. Limiting sun exposure before and after each treatment will minimize the risk of complications.
What kind of results should I expect? Does this technology really remove hair long-term?
Yes. Scientific studies show that the use of targeted, light-based energy actually damages or destroys hair follicles at the cellular level. A permanent reduction in the number of regrowing hairs is usually achieved following each treatment.
Are these treatments Safe?
Yes, IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) System is cleared both by Food and Drug Administration in the USA and Health Canada for the treatment of unwanted hair. The procedures have unparalleled safety records. Side effects are rare and generally well tolerated.