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Photoepilation. Laser Hair Removal

por Dra. Ángeles Herráiz
Publicado: 12/01/2005  

Dra. Ángeles Herráiz es Licenciada en Medicina y Cirugía por la Universidad Complutense de Madrid en su especialidad de medicina estética.

Photoepilation destroys the hair follicle (hair) using controlled flashes of light. The light used is very powerful. How does it work in order to burn hair? It is very easy: when we expose an object to the sun, it gets warm; and if that object is black, it gets even warmer, because it absorbs more solar energy. The same happens to hair: it absorbs the light projected by the device and the intense heat destroys it. This heating is painless. In order to obtain the best results with photoepilation, we need all the light energy sent by the machine to be absorbed by the hair and not by the nearby tissues.

We have to take into account that it is the pheomelanin –pigment that accounts for the colour of hair- that absorbs the energy; but that also the skin has melanin –pigment that accounts for the colour of skin- so the energy produced by the device can be shared between skin and hair, or even remain mostly in the skin. This is what happens with light hair in dark skin.


Type I Always burns, never tans
Type II Always burns, sometimes tans
Type III Sometimes burns, always tans
Type IV Never burns, always tans
Type V Moderately pigmented
Type VI Black

In order to prevent the skin from absorbing the energy from the machine’s light, we should use a device which produces light of the same colour (wavelenght) of the hair, in order to destroy the bud (root) of the hair. Each laser has a different wavelength (colour) depending on the lasing medium used. For example, Ruby Laser is red (695 nanometers), Alexandrite Laser is infrared (755 nm), etc.

For example, if we use a Ruby Laser we can treat exclusively black hairs in light skin individuals and preferably in facial areas where the skin is lighter. If we use it in darker skin, the energy will be absorbed by the skin and the hair will not be destroyed. Likewise, if the hair is white, it will not absorb enough energy to be destroyed.

IPL technology (Intense Pulsed Light) in photoepilation offers a non-invasive treatment to remove unwanted hair in any body location. Results are long lasting. In February 2000, the American FDA approved IPL as a valid technology for permanent hair reduction and for treatment in black individuals. As opposed to the constant wavelength lasers, IPL technology allows a selection from a full spectrum so as to:

  • Adapt the wavelength to the skin colour, hair colour and hair depth of each patient.
  • Treat efficiently most hair colours and hair textures, from fine to thick hair.
  • Remove hair in all skin phototypes, even in type VI.
  • Remove hair from any body location: face, armpits, groins, etc.

Photoepilation with IPL technology: how it works

Before threatmentBEFORE TREATMENT, wavelength is adapted to the melanin content of the target hair and nearby tissue. The intense pulsed light is selectively delivered to the hair follicle without harming the epidermis.

During the threatmentDURING THE TREATMENT, by increasing the temperature and inducing heat into the follicle, part of the energy of the intense pulsed light is absorbed by the pigment of the hair but another part of the energy penetrates the dermis and is directly absorbed by the bud. This synergy, specific and exclusive of IPL, helps to irreversibly disable most of the cells responsible for hair growing.

After the threatmentAFTER THE TREATMENT, destroyed hair and follicle are eliminated through a natural physiological process, with the result of a long term depilation.

The number of treatments depends on the body location and the type of hair and skin treated. But we could say that for a definitive result an average of six treatments is needed. In this easy and quick way we can get rid of those unsightly hairs of any body area.

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