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The Evolution of Hair Removal

By: Terri Wojak
Posted: January 5, 2011, from the January 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Although there have been many effective hair removal devices, traditionally there have been drawbacks to all of them. Some lasers have very small spot sizes, resulting in laser hair removal sessions that can take up to four hours, depending on the size of the area being treated. Comfort has also been a big issue—with the older laser devices, patients would often need a topical numbing agent to ease the pain of the treatment. Although there are cooling tips on many of the devices now, it can still be painful to some, especially those with dark, coarse hair. Now, there are hair removal lasers that have larger spot sizes, so treatments can be done in minutes as opposed to hours, and there are new ways to reduce the amount of pain as well. One such device utilizes suction to effectively eliminate blood, allowing the energy to focus on the melanin in the follicle. It also distracts the nerve so the patient doesn’t feel the sharp heat normally associated with these treatments. (Editor’s note: In most states, physicians are required to perform laser hair removal services, or be on site when laser hair removal services are taking place. Before offering these treatments in your spa, be sure to check your state’s requirements. Click here for each state board’s direct contact information.)

At-home hair removal systems

There are now even at-home hair removal systems using laser light. One option uses a diode laser, but there are other devices available including one that uses pulsed light enhanced by an acoustic effect. These systems must be sold by a physician with strict instructions for the patient. One drawback is that the amount of energy used in these devices does not compare to what can be administered in a medical office, so there is some controversy about whether or not they are effective. If there is not enough energy deposited into the follicle, the hair will not be destroyed. There are also risks associated with patients having these devices at home. Some may overdo it and others may use it when inappropriate, such as after tanning.

Continued growth

The future of hair removal is unknown, but it is continually evolving. There will always be a place for hair removal in society, including the methods that have been around since the Stone Age. It is a billion-dollar industry that is expected to enjoy continued growth. Even in the down economy of 2009, nearly 1.3 million laser hair removal treatments were performed, at an average national cost of $331 per treatment. What this means is that hair removal technology can be a strong investment to bring into your spa or medical spa. Consider making one or many of today’s hair removal options available to your clients.

GENERAL REFERENCES

KC Gillette, The People’s Corporation, Boni and Liveright, New York (1924)

www.harpersbazaar.com/magazine/140-years/bazaar-140-0307