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Types of Lasers Used in Laser Hair Removal

types of laser in laser hair removal

Understanding the Different Types of Lasers for Hair Removal

We all know the advantages of laser hair removal over traditional techniques. It works by using concentrated light energy to target and damage hair follicles, inhibiting future hair growth. Several different types of lasers are used for this procedure, each with unique characteristics and benefits. It can be confusing. If you are comparing laser clinics for your hair reduction, it’s good to know a bit about the different types of laser on the market and what might know what would work best for your particular skin and hair type. We explore the most common laser types used for hair removal. It should be said that the effectiveness of each depends on hair colour, thickness, and skin tone.

Melanin Explained

Melanin is a pigment that gives colour to hair, skin, and eyes. It is produced by cells called melanocytes, which are found in the basal layer of the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin). There are two types of melanin: eumelanin, which is responsible for brown and black colours, and pheomelanin, which produces red and yellow colours.

In laser hair removal, melanin is the important substance because it is the primary target of the laser’s energy. The laser emits a specific wavelength of light that is absorbed by the melanin in the hair follicle. The absorbed light energy is converted into heat, which damages the follicle and inhibits future hair growth.

The amount and type of melanin in the hair and skin affect the success of laser hair removal treatments. Darker hair contains more melanin, making it easier for the laser to target and destroy the follicle. In contrast, lighter hair colours, such as blonde, red, or grey, contain less melanin and may require more treatment sessions or may not respond as well to laser hair removal.

Skin colour also influences the laser hair removal process. Individuals with lighter skin tones have a higher contrast between their skin and hair colour, making it easier for the laser to target the hair follicle without damaging the surrounding skin. On the other side of the coin, those with darker skin tones have a higher risk of skin damage or discolouration because their skin contains more melanin, which can absorb the laser energy intended for the hair follicle.

 

lasers used for laser hair removal

Alexandrite Lasers

Alexandrite lasers emit light at a wavelength of 755 nanometers, making them highly effective for targeting melanin (pigment) in hair follicles. They operate in both continuous and pulsed modes, providing flexibility in treatment approaches. Alexandrite lasers are renowned for their efficiency in covering large areas quickly due to their larger spot sizes and higher repetition rates.

Advantages

  • Fast treatment times due to large spot sizes and high repetition rates: Alexandrite lasers can cover more surface area in less time, making them ideal for treating larger body areas like the back or legs.
  • Best suited for light to olive skin tones with dark hair: The laser’s specific wavelength is highly absorbed by melanin, making it particularly effective for individuals with lighter skin tones and dark hair.

Disadvantages

  • May cause skin discolouration in darker skin types: There is a higher risk of hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation in individuals with darker skin tones.
  • Can be more painful than other laser types: The high absorption rate of melanin can lead to increased discomfort during the procedure.

Diode Lasers

Diode lasers use semiconductor diodes to produce light energy at wavelengths around 800-810 nanometers. Their longer wavelength allows deeper penetration into the skin to effectively target hair follicles. Diode lasers are known for their versatility and are a popular choice for a wide range of skin types and hair colours.

Advantages

  • Safe for a wide range of skin types, including darker skin: The adjustable wavelength settings make diode lasers suitable for treating various skin tones with minimal risk.
  • Effective for treating thick, coarse hair: Diode lasers can penetrate deeper into the skin, making them effective for targeting thicker hair follicles.
  • Less painful than some other laser types: The cooling systems integrated into diode lasers enhance patient comfort during treatment.

Disadvantages

  • Due to limited energy settings, may be less effective for very dark skin: Although safer for darker skin, the efficacy may be reduced if the energy settings are too conservative to avoid skin damage.

Nd:YAG Lasers

Neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet (Nd:YAG) lasers emit light at a wavelength of 1064 nanometers, the longest of all hair removal lasers. This allows the laser energy to safely penetrate deep into the skin, making it the safest option for darker skin tones. Nd:YAG lasers are versatile and can be used for a variety of dermatological applications beyond hair removal.

Advantages

  • Treats all skin types, including tanned skin: The longer wavelength minimises melanin absorption in the epidermis, reducing the risk of skin damage in darker or tanned skin.
  • Larger spot sizes and fast repetition rates enable quick treatment of large areas, making Nd:YAG lasers efficient for treating large body areas in less time.
  • Versatile laser with applications beyond hair removal (e.g., tattoo removal, skin rejuvenation): The Nd:YAG laser’s versatility extends its use to other cosmetic procedures, adding value to its utility.

Disadvantages

  • May require more treatment sessions compared to other laser types: Due to the lower melanin absorption, more sessions might be needed to achieve optimal hair reduction.

Ruby Lasers

Ruby lasers were the first type developed for hair removal. They emit a deep red light at a wavelength of 694 nanometers, which is well-absorbed by melanin in hair. Despite their early popularity, ruby lasers have become less common due to advancements in laser technology and the development of more versatile lasers.

Advantages

  • Excellent for treating fine, light hair on fair skin: Ruby lasers’ high melanin absorption rate makes them particularly effective for individuals with fair skin and light hair.
  • More comfortable than some other laser types: The specific wavelength can result in a less intense treatment experience.

Disadvantages

  • Not suitable for darker skin tones: There is a higher risk of pigmentation issues in darker skin types.
  • Limited effectiveness on thick or coarse hair: Ruby lasers may not penetrate deeply enough to effectively treat thicker hair.
  • Slower treatment times: The smaller spot sizes can result in longer treatment durations, making them less efficient for large areas.

Each laser type has its unique advantages and disadvantages. Your choice should be based on your hair and skin type, along with professional advice.

 

soprano titanium picture

Our Laser

We have the brilliantly advanced Soprano Titanium laser system at The Doctors Laser Clinic. Why? Because it combines multiple laser technologies to provide maximum laser hair removal performance. The Soprano Titanium integrates the benefits of Alexandrite, Diode, and Nd:YAG lasers, giving it versatility and suitability for a wider range of skin and hair types. The Alexandrite component effectively targets the melanin in lighter skin tones. The Diode laser penetrates deeper for thicker hair and darker skin tones, and the Nd:YAG laser is perfect for safely treating darker skin tones and tanned skin. With its innovative cooling technology, the Soprano Titanium minimises discomfort, making the hair removal process virtually painless and quick. Whether you have fine, light hair or thick, coarse hair, our Soprano Titanium laser system offers a superior, customisable hair removal experience.

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