How The Technology Behind Laser Hair Removal Has Evolved
Over 1.5 million people request a laser treatment to remove hair from the body every year. It is the second most requested nonsurgical cosmetic procedure. The number of procedures performed each year is increasing by 11 percent annually. The entire treatment is focused around the use of a laser. This device emits focused energy that removes hair and destroys the follicle so that the hair does not grow back quickly. Laser hair removal has evolved dramatically over the last half century.
The First Lasers
The very first lasers were built in the 1960s. These lasers used argon to produce a beam. Although the technology was very new, the value of lasers as a way to remove hair from the body was immediately recognized. One of the main problems with the earliest attempts at removing hair with a laser is that the beam was hard to control. Early lasers generated a single consistent and strong beam of light. This meant that it was very likely that the skin and surrounding tissue would be damaged before the hair and the underlying follicle was removed. Argon lasers were quickly abandoned as a method to remove hair.
Laser technology within the medial industry was refined dramatically from the end of the 1960s to the 1980s. One of the first developments was the Q switch. This allowed lasers to pulse on and off rapidly instead of maintaining a single beam. The switch made it possible to control a laser so that minimum damage was done to the surrounding skin. A later refinement saw the introduction of a fiber optic probe. This permitted accurate targeting of small areas such as the upper lip. Unfortunately, these advances were not enough to guarantee success for laser hair removal. Trained professionals had to work for hours in order to remove a small amount of hair. Additionally, the lasers caused stinging and pain that made patients uncomfortable.
The 1980s saw the introduction of the first widely available commercial laser systems. These were much easier to use and must safer than the lasers from the 1970s. The advances in technology made it possible for doctors and other professionals to remove hair with a minimal risk of other complications. These lasers also used lower amounts of energy. This eliminated the stinging pain caused by previous designs. The lasers spread throughout the world and became a common tool for hair removal. Some consumer models even appeared at this point that could be used in the home.
Soft light lasers and ruby lasers marked the start of the modern age of the technology in the late 1990s. These lasers provided a high level of control and very little chance for damage. Soft light lasers use a special gel to create bursts of energy that remove follicles. Ruby lasers use shorter wavelengths of light in order to target hair and follicles without affecting the surrounding skin. Laser hair removal has become one of the standard cosmetic procedures performed in clinics and offices. It is currently painless, very safe and can be completed quickly. The results of the procedure have improved as well. Patients now have smoother skin for a longer period of time than was previously possible.