The primary principle behind laser hair removal is selective photo thermolysis (SPTL). Lasers can cause localized damage by selectively heating dark target matter, (melanin), in the area that causes hair growth, (the follicle), while not heating the rest of the skin. Light is absorbed by dark objects, so laser energy can be absorbed by dark material in the skin (but with much more speed and intensity). This dark target matter, or chromophore, can be naturally-occurring or artificially introduced.
Hair removal lasers selectively target melanin:
Melanin is considered the primary chromophore for all hair removal lasers currently on the market. Melanin occurs naturally in the skin (it gives skin and hair its color). There are two types of melanin in hair: eumelanin (which gives hair brown or black color) and pheomelanin (which gives hair blonde or red color). Because of the selective absorption of photons of laser light, only black or brown hair can be removed.
Both men and women seek laser hair removal services to have superfluous or unwanted hair removed. Hair removal is commonly done on the lip, chin, ear lobe, shoulders, back, underarm, abdomen, buttocks, pubic area, bikini lines, thighs, face, neck, cleavage, chest, arms, legs, hands, and toes.
The laser works best with dark coarse hair. Light skin and dark hair are an ideal combination, but new lasers are now able to target dark black hair even in patients with dark skin.
Hair removal lasers have been in use since 1997 and the Food and Drug Administration approved it for “permanent hair reduction.” Laser hair removal has become extremely popular because of its speed and efficacy, although some of the efficacy is dependent upon the skill and experience of the laser operator, and the choice and availability of different laser technology at the clinic which is performing the procedure. Some will need touch-up treatments, especially on large areas, after the initial set of 4-6 treatments. It has also been observed that some people seem to be non-responders – this is not confirmed and reasons are not known, and may, in fact, be due to lack of skill on the part of many laser operators and/or the type of machine and settings they are using.