Indexed on: 26 Aug '11Published on: 26 Aug '11Published in: Current problems in dermatology
Hair removal with optical devices has become a popular mainstream treatment that today is considered the most efficient method for the reduction of unwanted hair. Photothermal destruction of hair follicles constitutes the fundamental concept of hair removal with red and near-infrared wavelengths suitable for targeting follicular and hair shaft melanin: normal mode ruby laser (694 nm), normal mode alexandrite laser (755 nm), pulsed diode lasers (800, 810 nm), long-pulse Nd:YAG laser (1,064 nm), and intense pulsed light (IPL) sources (590-1,200 nm). The ideal patient has thick dark terminal hair, white skin, and a normal hormonal status. Currently, no method of lifelong permanent hair eradication is available, and it is important that patients have realistic expectations. Substantial evidence has been found for short-term hair removal efficacy of up to 6 months after treatment with the available systems. Evidence has been found for long-term hair removal efficacy beyond 6 months after repetitive treatments with alexandrite, diode, and long-pulse Nd:YAG lasers, whereas the current long-term evidence is sparse for IPL devices. Treatment parameters must be adjusted to patient skin type and chromophore. Longer wavelengths and cooling are safer for patients with darker skin types. Hair removal with lasers and IPL sources are generally safe treatment procedures when performed by properly educated operators. However, safety issues must be addressed since burns and adverse events do occur. New treatment procedures are evolving. Consumer-based treatments with portable home devices are rapidly evolving, and presently include low-level diode lasers and IPL devices.