The Hair Cycle and Laser Removal

Laser hair removal may be the most popular procedure at your clinic – but do most of your technicians actually understand how the hair cycle works? If they don’t then the following article is required reading for each of your treatment specialists.

Hair has two distinct structures – the follicle and the shaft. The follicle is located beneath the scalp in the skin and the shaft is visible above the scalp. The hair follicle contains several layers including the papilla, containing tiny capillaries to nourish the cells, and the bulb, where hair cells are growing and dividing. An inner and outer sheath surround the follicle and protect the growing hair shaft up to the sebaceous gland. The hair shaft is made out of a hard protein called keratin that is made up of three distinct layers. Hair on the scalp grows approximately .3 to .4mm per day or about 6 inches per year. At any given time hairs will be in one of three growth stages: anagen, catagen and telogen.

The anagen cycle is the active growth phase of hair. Hair in the stage will grow approximately 1cm every 28 days and stays active for two to six years. This can vary by person which is why some people have difficulty growing their hair longer.

The catagen phase is transitional and an estimated 3% of hairs are in this phase at any time. Lasting two to three weeks, hair growth stops and begins to detach and shrink from the sheath forming what is known as a club hair.

The telogen or “resting” phase accounts for 6% to 8% of all hairs. This phase lasts up to 100 days. Pulling on these hairs reveals a solid and white material at the root. On average it is normal for patients to shed anywhere between 25 to 100 hairs daily while in the telogen phase.

Familiarizing oneself with the life cycle of the hair follicle is important to understanding how laser hair removal works. It is only during the anagen growth stage that hair follicles are able to be targeted by lasers because of the abundance of melanin. At any given time at least 15% to 20% of hair is in the anagen phase. This is why laser hair removal is most effective after at least 6 to 8 treatments. The Candela GentleLASE is one of the most effective lasers offered on the market at targeting hair during this period.

laser treatment for sun damaged skin

Laser Treatment for Sun Damaged Skin

The majority of sun damage, around 80 percent, occurs before an individual is 18 years old. Often termed “photaging” by physicians, sun damage can cause multiple dermatologic conditions from chronic exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Sun damage can alter the DNA of skin cells, causing freckles, wrinkles, age spots and even cancers. While it’s never too late to begin protecting skin by using sunscreen and sun hats, for most individuals, treatment of sun damaged skin will require more proactive steps.

For patients who do not want to opt for laser surfacing treatments, microdermabrasion and chemical exfoliants with a 5 to 8 percent concentration of glycolic acid can be effective removing dead and damaged skin cells. The active chemical ingredient in these products is vital to remove the layers of dead cells that have clumped and accumulated over years of exposure.

For stubborn or persistent brown spots and discolorations, alexandrite lasers such as the Candela GentleLASE can be used as a powerful tool to restore the skin. These lasers have a high-melanin absorption rate and can treat a variety of pigmented and damaged skin. A typical course of treatment is 3 to 4 sessions at six-week intervals. Most epidermal damage will respond well to GentleLASE treatment and there is minimal recovery from the procedure. Technicians should explain to patients that the side effects are slightly stronger than general laser hair removal and the skin may redden and scab at the treatment area. One bonus side effect is the potential additional benefit of improving the skin’s texture and elasticity due to the collagen reformation capabilities of the Candela GentleLASE.

After Care Tips for Patients Post Laser Hair Removal

First time laser hair removal patients need to be guided through the appropriate post-care procedures following laser hair removal treatment. Therapists should explain to patients how the body generally reacts to treatment and the appropriate tips for managing discomfort and protecting newly lasered skin.

Therapists should remind patients that the skin will feel slightly warm and may appear red following treatment. This discomfort should generally disappear within a few hours. Additionally, there are a number of tips that staff can recommend to patients to maximise their treatment.

1. Use a soothing gel. Soothing and calming balms such as Aloe Vera instantly cool hot or reactive skin and can be used on all parts of the body, even the face.

2. Do not take a hot bath or shower. The steam and heat of the shower can cause skin irritation, especially if the patient has sensitive skin.

3. No waxing, plucking, shaving or threading for at least 24 to 48 hours to avoid skin irritation.

4. Avoid sun exposure. Lasered skin should not be exposed to sun for at least four weeks post treatment. Skin that becomes “tan” is at greater risk for hyperpigmentation, burning, and scarring. All patients should be encouraged to protect their skin from the sun and apply high-SPF (30 or above) creams to exposed areas.

5. Avoid harsh chemicals. It is generally recommended that patients should avoid bleach, perfumed or chlorinated water and beauty products for 48 to 72 hours.

6. Avoid make up. For patients that have had laser treatments on the face it is best to avoid makeup for at least 24 hours post-procedure. If makeup must be worn it should be kept to a minimum – mascara, lipstick and mineral-based, preservative free makeup should be used.

Cosmetic Laser Leasing and Buying Options

A laser equipment shopping guide

As technology is becoming more advanced and prices are coming down, lasers are fast becoming the simplest and most efficient way to remove unwanted hair. Laser technology falls in an interesting space between medical and aesthetic – a relatively simple yet high-tech procedure that must be operated by a trained technician to achieve maximum results. As more devices flood the market every year, shopping for these devices is becoming increasingly tricky. This article will help you navigate important points when shopping for laser hair removal technology.

The first step to choosing a laser device is determining your budget and client demographic. Be realistic about your budget- there are a range of buy or lease options and payment plans to suit every clinic.

Purchasing a laser has a number of key pros and cons. There are the advantages of having an in-house device as well as the potential financial returns and profits on the investment. Disadvantages include a large initial investment coupled with loans or financing fees, higher usage costs, and the potential that the equipment may become obsolete. If choosing to rent, there are significant advantages as well, including little initial investment and maintenance fees, as well as access to the most recent equipment. On the flip side, a rented machine is not a fixed business asset and has no property value.

Understanding the warranty and servicing options are important next steps. The more you understand about your device, the better. The high cost of laser ownership, either rented or purchased, make it an important asset to the business and one that must be very well maintained. With comprehensive training included in the rental and purchase of all Laseraid equipment you are ensured to have a very good understanding of the correct maintenance procedures.

If you have already gone through this entire process, then the last step should be easy: demo the machine. By using the machine yourself you are able to understand how user-friendly it is and how easy it will be to manipulate. This is also important because you can discuss any necessary training processes and guidebooks or manuals necessary to operate the machine.

Laser Therapy and Facial Treatments

Many men and women do not realise that laser treatment is good for a lot more than just hair removal. In fact, laser treatment technology such as the Gentle Lase Pro series can be used to treat pigmentation, sun-damaged skin, spider veins, freckles and fine lines. Many patients are confused by all of the treatments available and it is important that technicians clearly explain how each procedure works.

Lasers work by focusing energy on a certain colour of the energy spectrum. The colours vary from clear to blue (CO2 lasers) to brown (Nd-YAG) to red (Pulse Dye) and others. When the laser beam encounters the skin, heat is created. This heat is used to dissolve hair follicles, burn the upper layers of skin and destroy blemishes. By lasering the upper layers of skin, the laser is able to exfoliate and effectively remove the skin layers associated with blemishes and fine wrinkles. Eventually, the upper layers of the skin will grow back smoother and clearer than they were previously.

Lasers are also able to reach deeper into the skin and break down collagen. As the collagen reforms it becomes tighter and more compact reducing the level of “looseness.” There are four general types of lasers that are used today: ablative, nonablative, fractionated and other skin treatments. Ablative laser procedures are the oldest form of laser treatment procedures widely used in the late 90’s. This invasive procedure burns the facial and can produce good results for facial rejuvenation. However, the long and painful recovery times led to the development of nonablative lasers. These lasers heat up the deeper layers of the skin while leaving the surface untouched. While they are able to stimulate collagen the surface skin remained largely the same. Fractionated lasers are the perfect go-between ablative and non-ablative treatments. These lasers burn a “fraction” of the surface skin resulting in exfoliation and skin tightening.

It is also important to remember that there are other alternatives to laser treatment for facial rejuvenation. Microdermabrasion is a common and popular procedure that is able to produce instant results and reduce the appearance of blemishes and fine lines. Machines such as the Viora Pristine Diamond Tip are among the world’s leading machines and widely available in Australia through Laseraid. Microdermabrasion is also a great additional product to include in ongoing facial rejuvenation treatment.