Chicago, IL | Laser Hair Removal - Everything you wanted to know | Aesthetic Scalp
Dr. Shah: So we're going to be talking about laser hair removal. Sitting next to me is Ranen and Sara and we're going to be talking about this today before we get started. We'll talk about the science of laser hair removal. Laser hair removal is the removal of hair by life that specifically targets the hair follicle. This local damage targets the dark matter of the hair, which is melanin. Now for some of us, this melanin is going to be lighter in nature and that's called Eumelanin, that's those of us with blond hair and red hair. Those with darker hair, have melanin which is called Pheomelanin. The laser is much more effective and we'll target that specifically.
Dr. Shah: So with that little background on laser, any thoughts on laser hair removal while we get started?
Ranen: I think laser hair removal is an excellent way to help reduce hair on the body, anywhere on your body. The best hair to target would be the darker, coarser hair, usually middle Eastern Mediterranean hair.
Dr. Shah: And there's sort of a misconception about, you know, laser hair removal. And all that. Any skin colorations that you have difficulty with? Is there anyone who can't do laser hair removal, someone who has darker skin, someone who has lighter skin, what are your thoughts?
Sara: So the toughest people to treat I guess, well we can't treat, would be your Fitzpatrick's one and two, like if you think about Nicole Kidman, so Nicole Kidman, she's very, very light-skin. She's got green eyes kind of reddish blondish hair. So her hair is not a target. We cannot target that type of hair. So like our melanin, the dark pigment, which is what the laser is going to specifically target, right? So like a really good candidate. If somebody who has lighter skin with darker hair, that's like our perfect candidate, when I see them I'm like yes we can reduce your hair. With laser technology we can also treat Fitzpatrick's five and six.
Dr. Shah: Fitzpatrick's five and six. Again, for those who are at home, those are going to be patients with darker skin. And all of us here would probably be a four. So five and six would be a little bit darker pigmentation than everyone here.
Sara: Right. So with laser technology, we have a YAG and a diode laser here in Dr. Shah's office. I use a diode laser very safely on patients with really dark skin. I have a method that I use and it's proven to be really, really helpful for my patients. It does take longer because I have to lower the energy and I only do one pass on darker skin types. So I will tell you it does take longer than say my skin to get that hair reduced. But it does work. Patients, I have patients that I'm treating for both acne and hair. That laser like really helps with patients who have folliculitis on their face. They have a lot of women that come to see me with dark skin who have folliculitis on their skin, which is ingrown hair. So what is happening with that is their, their hair follicle is getting infected with bacteria. It turns into acne and they have a full face of this. So what I always have them do first is see me for laser hair removal, we will take care of that first and then treat the acne. So theory is getting that hair reduced so that hair follicle is not there to get infected by the bacteria. After that we work on getting the skin more of an even skin tone. So that's what I really love to use.
Dr. Shah: I think when people talk about laser hair removal, it's not one type of laser. There's really only like four basic types of laser that do laser hair removal in one thing we're going to call a laser isn't technically a laser. That's IPL. IPL I think is not quite as effective for laser hair removal. Some of the studies showed near equivalent. I'm not as big a fan of IPL in laser hair removal setting. The other types of laser, there is an Alexandrite type of laser, dialing laser and an MDN and ND YAG is probably best for only it's suited for like dark hair and based with darker pigmentation. So I like the dial laser is kind of the best overall laser.
Dr. Shah: If someone comes to you and says, I want to get treated, I want one session to treat me all with laser hair, turn the system up. Will that work, Ranen?
Ranen: I mean, if there was something out there like that, I mean I would love that. But unfortunately there is, a minimum of at least six treatments is what I tell my patients, especially with the darker, coarser hair. Only because the way our hair grows in those three phases, it doesn't, it's impossible to get all of your hair in one second.
Dr. Shah: And kind of talking about the three phases of hair growth. So, what Ranen is talking about is our hair grows in three different phases. And those phases are the anagen, catagen and telogen. Laser hair removal only works on the early phase of anagen. So if your hair is in a different cycle during that time, what's gonna happen is it will not be targeted by the laser. So you're getting your hair different cycles at different times. So you think a minimum of six sessions would you say?
Ranen: on of course the hair amount of hair growth, but the majority of my patients, I've done a minimum of six treatments. Once you hit, I think probably around two to three treatments are my patients. Their feedback is usually, Oh my God, my hair is growing back last. And it's like in spots, you know, some spots, you know it's growing in some spots it's not. So it's almost like a blotchy growth, which is excellent because we're getting there. So, but it does, it does definitely from my experience take at least six treatments.
Dr. Shah: Now sometimes you hear if marketing terms of painless care, like a pain-free hair, laser hair removal, are there any ways you can make laser hair removal? Less painful? They're still effective?
Sara: Yeah. There are tricks that I do here in the office. Number one is I always tell them, I'm going to press kind of hard into your skin with this tip because it kinda like numbs the patient. I also have a roller that I use that I keep in the freezer. I have the patient role with that first and then I go over the area and we'll go about doing that and different parts of the body, if they requested, I will have that available to them. So it is makes it more comfortable for the patient.
Ranen: Yeah, I agree, we do have a roller that we use. It's nice and cold so the patient can actually roll that if she'd like or he or she would like. But unfortunately I believe that the more coarser the hair in certain areas I feel like are going to be a little bit more uncomfortable. But we do try and make it as comfortable as possible by using the roller. And we do put, I like to put extra gel, like cooling gel and that kinda helps also. It's, it makes it a little bit more comfortable.
Dr. Shah: What do you think about numbing gels, do they help?
Ranen: I personally use numbing gel on a patient of mine. When we were doing his beard.
Dr. Shah: And for those that get out there, this is a topical anesthesia and which numbing gel we using the LMX or using the, the laser gel compound we use for that.
Ranen: I was using the compound laser gel.
Dr. Shah: And we have a specially formulated compound that we use for our patients, which is fairly strong. I learned about it at a conference and we have it specially formulated in a pharmacy. It takes about 30 minutes to work. And then what would the patients experience using the topical gel versus those that don't?
Ranen: So he had a lot of the ingrowns, especially on his neck area and that was the main reason that he came to see me. But we did do the gel and I would leave it on for at least 30 minutes, wipe that off and then right after go ahead and laser him. First time I treated him, I didn't use the laser gel on the second and afterwards use the laser gel and the numbing gel and huge difference. It was a little bit more tolerable. He was able to like sit through it. But it's a little uncomfortable either way you look at it. I mean the gel definitely did help I wouldn't say.
Dr. Shah: And I think in general, I think when they talk about, I've heard of certain ways as being marketed as you know, painless, or pain free. You know, my back is sort of a pincushion of sorts cause like everyone always wants to test different lasers on it and my back's been on laser, you know, multiple times when I have an opportunity. I think the racers that work, the most effective way for me are the diode lasers and it seems to be more effective when it's a diode laser that things in another laser. I think what does an IPL, it doesn't seem to, maybe, I'm not sure the pain goes down anything, but I don't think it's as quite as effective. The ND, YAG, I think it's similar thing with, I think they're all about the same with pain when it targets the hair and if it hits the hair, there's a little bit of discomfort that you're going to feel, but it's, it's well worth it. You know, when you're comparing this to even things like waxing and other things, hair removal in general has a little bit of discomfort.
Ranen: Yeah, I would say I agree.
Dr. Shah: Any things you can't do after laser hair. So someone comes in and says I want to go to my trip to Mexico and I am going in a week. What's your thoughts on that?
Sara: Wear SPF and have a good time. Yeah. Cause you know what? Our laser that we have here does not cause injury to the skin if you're using it right. So if you have the settings correct, which we are trained to do this, we have the correct settings, it does not cause trauma to the surface of the skin. So that same day that they get treated, I just tell them not to add extra heat to the skin. Like don't go to the gym. No, don't add extra heat cause I already added heat with the laser. Just take it easy. But if they're leaving for vacation in a week, they're totally fine. Just SPF.
Ranen: I wanted to jump as far as doing any kind of laser before is fine. I think afterwards is where you kind of want to be careful when you're on vacation and you come back and you have nice color and you're tan, we're not going to get the accurate skin tone. So you definitely want to, I think not be tanned when you come in.
Dr. Shah: And again that's handled with the science of laser, which you want the difference between your dark hair and your skin. So you can target the hair, believe it or not, and not the skin. So if you're darker, it's going to be harder for the laser to pick up that difference between the two. So that's kind of the science behind it. So you're much more likely to have an adverse effect from the laser. Can anyone do laser hair? What are some of the issues that minimum qualifications do you want to see in someone doing laser hair?
Sara: I want at least 16 and over and just some of the contraindications would be obviously somebody who's pregnant, somebody who's susceptible to seizures and cause that you know the laser light, any kind of skin disorders like eczema or like any where, where there's a rash, that would be like a contraindication. Those are patients I wouldn't typically treat. Just have to wait until those things go away and then come see me. But definitely if you are susceptible to seizures and sensitivity to light, I would say you are not a good candidate.
Dr. Shah: There's a lot of places doing laser hair removal. So why would one person go to one provider versus another? Do you pick it based on the laser? Do you pick it based on the provider is the combination of the two? How much experience does someone need to do laser hair removal and what about money?
Ranen: I personally think you definitely want to go by somebody who you feel comfortable with who's qualified and certified and also has experience with laser and properly trained only because you know you can really hurt somebody with a laser if you don't know what you're doing. Also, I believe that the laser is important obviously an important factor here. I believe in the diode lasers and excellent laser for majority of our skin types here. So I've seen excellent reviews with it. So I just look at all of the above.
Sara: For me, like my advice, I've seen patients come here from like coming from med spas where perhaps the esthetician was not properly trained. Cause I've had patients who are coming to me and they've been like, you know, they were getting plucked or getting wax between their laser treatments. So that person that was treating them was not telling them the right information. What they should have told them was that you can only shave, so if there's no fucking no waxing while you're being treated during laser hair removal, cause we're trying to target that hair follicle. And so what this patient was doing between her laser treatments was getting waxed and plucking so her treatment was not effective at all. So she came to see me and she was like, wow, nobody ever told me that. So you definitely want to know, go see somebody who is trained and has been working with the laser for at least two years and most importantly under a reputable doctor just for safety reasons. There's like Ranen was saying, there's so much things that can go wrong. You want to have somebody that you know is following all the rules, like wearing glasses, have proper signage on the doors and those are really good indications that the person that you are going to be treated with is professionally trained.
Dr. Shah: Any areas that it's more becoming more popular in men is and becoming other areas of the body that are getting laser. They're like, wow, they weren't lasering this, you know, two or three years ago. Any, do you see any trends happening?
Ranen: With men?
Dr. Shah: Men, women? Are any, any trends in the laser hair removal?
Ranen: Well, women, I think we just, I'm, a lot of women are doing more of like full body, so they're hair-free like a hundred percent and men, you know, men as well. But I think men are more with their contouring of like their beard, you know, their neck, you know, the back of the neck. And I don't think they knew that this was an option for them or this was even out there for them. So knowing that they don't have to worry about ingrowns and stuff like that.
Dr. Shah: And what does it feel like if someone says, well, why don't I just wax? What does it feel like for a laser hair removal patient? You know, when they've had laser hair removal, let's say they've had 10 sessions versus someone who waxs, what does it feel like to the skin? What does it feel like? What does it look like? Is there any differences when you see someone, can you tell someone who's had laser hair removal versus someone who has not? And any differences in how it looks?
Sara: Yeah, so somebody who has had laser hair removal, you can see that the skin is smoother. What happens is in certain areas of the body, and depending on your ethnicity, and you will see folliculitis, which is the ingrown hair. So just depending like I will see somebody who has like a ton of ingrown hairs and they've been being waxed. So that's basically when the hair grows back into the follicles. So with laser hair removal, we're weakening their follicle that after like one to two treatments automatically stops. So that's really nice. And that's a big thing that I see with laser hair removal is the smoother skin like that bumpiness goes away.
Dr. Shah: So you're avoiding the razor bump. So should be smoother. Anything you know Ranen? Is someone with lasered skin versus there's someone who's just a habitual wax or shaver.
Ranen: So before I was waxer, before I started doing laser hair removal, folliculitis was a huge issue. It's just constant, you know ingrowns being there. Yeah it's painful. It's not that great and you'd have to do it like once a month or whatever it was. I'd rather get the laser hair removal done.
Sara: I have patients that actually like how that feels, that laser sensation, you can feel it destroying the follicle and they feel after they leave they're always like, I feel so clean. Like it's like a renewal for them. Like they love to come to their sessions, they're excited, they know it's going to be a tad uncomfortable. But the overall like to see that hair growing like Oh my God, it's been two and I haven't had to shave this area is huge improvement and the patient is always very happy.
Ranen: And also, I mean going back to like acne that you were speaking of earlier, it definitely, I feel like it helps with acne. So like doing laser hair removal on a patient with acne on their back or whatever it is, you see them and you'll see the difference the next time you come in and they'll even tell you like, wow, my acne has definitely gotten under control.
Dr. Shah: All right. Any other thoughts then on lasers?
Sara: I just think it's a great invention. I'm so like I'm thankful for it. I'm thankful to work in this industry that I, I can treat myself, I can treat my patients and really they are so happy when they come in for treatments. It just like a really good feeling to offer that service, especially with the laser that works. Earlier, I was talking to IPL versus laser, so IPL is intense pulse light. It's a sporadic light. It's spread out on, that's what you'll see in a lot of med spas because they're less expensive and they're just easier to carry. So that's why a lot of med spas will carry them, but when our laser, it's a direct beam killing that follicle and that hair disappears faster. So I'm really thankful that I get to work with that temple laser because the results.
Ranen: I used to have to shave every day, literally, and now it's like I can go, I'm hairless. So it's like I can go on vacation and not have to worry about it and spending a lot longer in the shower.
Sara: I think it's like one less headache. I feel like less hair is more fun. That's the way with the future. That's a wrap on laser hair removal. Thank you.