We now have three laser systems, but one laser remains the most effective for long term hair removal. The selective wavelength of this diode laser disables hair growth without damaging skin. The laser targets melanin, a naturally-occurring pigment in the hair shaft. The laser light passes through the skin, and the laser energy is absorbed by the melanin, transferring heat that damages the hair follicle, disabling growth. Whatever light is not absorbed by the melanin simply scatters. The heat generated in the follicle is similar to electrolysis, but is much more efficient, since it can treat large areas in seconds, instead of focusing on one follicle at a time.
Laser hair removal is not for everyone; success depends on both skin and hair colour. The best candidates have fair skin with dark hair. If you have a darker skin tone, laser hair removal is still an option, but we would do laser testing first. If you have very blond, grey or white hair, you will not respond to treatment.
If you have dark skin, your skin pigment will partially block the passage of laser light into the hair follicle, which may mean you won’t respond well to the treatment. Side effects such as hypopigmentation (lighter skin colour) or hyperpigmentation(darker skin colour) can also be more pronounced if you have darker skin.
If you suffer from hormone irregularities, thyroid disease, or are using androgenic steroids, you may not see a satisfactory result without first treating your underlying condition.
Dr. Tony Nield screens every patient to make sure that they are candidates for laser hair removal. If we feel it’s not a procedure that will work for your hair or skin tone, we will tell you during your initial consultation.
Shave the area to be lasered 1 to 2 days earlier. If you don’t shave it, large patches of hair above the surface of the skin will absorb the light energy, which makes the treatment less effective for the hair below the skin. Avoid plucking, waxing or electrolysis 4 to 6 weeks before your laser treatment, and AVOID TANNING completely. Suntanned skin will absorb the light energy and can result in burns or skin discolouration. (These problems are not permanent, but it’s a good idea to avoid them if possible). Do not apply self-tanners, moisturizers or perfumes to the treated areas.
If the area to be treated is prone to cold sores, antiviral medication will be prescribed. Please avoid taking Accutane® at least 6 months prior to laser hair removal.
When you have your initial consultation with Dr. Nield, he will outline these requirements in further detail.
We start by cleansing the area, then use the laser to focus a beam of highly concentrated light on the treatment area. Controlled pulses of light penetrate the skin and are absorbed by the hair follicles, which discourages regrowth without damaging the surrounding tissue. Cool gel and ice packs are applied throughout the treatment to reduce any discomfort.
After the treatment, we cleanse the treated area and apply sunblock. Please note that in order to prevent pigmentary changes, we avoid areas that have been tattooed or have permanent lip liner.
Dr. Tony Nield is a family practitioner who specializes in laser hair removal. He has been performing hair removal procedures at the Woodbridge Dermatology and Laser Centre (the first clinic in to offer laser hair removal) since1998. We also have experienced female technicians performing laser hair removal under the guidance of Dr. Nield.
Lasers can only target hair follicles that are in an active growth phase. During this anagen stage of hair growth, melanin pigment is present in the hair follicles and is susceptible to certain lasers. Dormant hairs (catagen and telogen) will be relatively unaffected by laser light. The number of hairs that are permanently removed after one treatment varies; up to 50% of the hair on any one part of your body can be in a resting phase, and will be unresponsive to the laser. Once the resting hairs cycle into an active growing phase, the laser can successfully target them. After each session, the remaining hair becomes finer and lighter. Laser hair removal will have to be repeated 6 to 10 times at least 1 to 2 months apart to be successful.
As part of your initial consultation, the doctor will advise you about the approximate number of treatments you’ll need.
Laser hair removal can result in permanent hair reduction. Most patients will experience a 50% reduction after 4 to 5 sessions and a 75% to 90% reduction after 8 to 10 sessions, depending on the area being treated. Some hairs cannot be eliminated completely, and laser treatments will not prevent new hair from developing with age. Areas such as the bikini and underarm regions usually respond nicely to a series of treatments, but facial hair in some women (which may be depend on hormones or genetics) may require long-term maintenance sessions.
Repeated sessions can often still be preferable to other temporary hair removal options. Facial skin is not affected by the laser, and it’s one of the only options that doesn’t result in unsightly ingrown hairs and bumps. Men with significant chest and back hair may also find that even after multiple sessions, despite seeing some reduction in hair growth, their hair remains due to the underlying influence of testosterone.
The laser pulse can feel like a light snap of an elastic band on your skin. This sensation only lasts for a second and is usually easy to tolerate. Shaving the area a day in advance decreases the discomfort. We use ice packs and cool gels during each session, which helps make your experience tolerable. Topical anesthetic creams may also be used.
Sensitivity, irritation or redness can sometimes occur at the treatment site, but disappears quickly. We put your safety first, so other reactions are extremely rare. Because the laser beam passes through the skin, there is a very low chance of scarring or infection. However, we strongly urge you to AVOID TANNING before and after your treatments – it’s the best way to minimize the risk of side effects and pigmentation.
Having Laser Hair Removal treatments at a qualified dermatologist’s office guarantees that the laser equipment is sterilized between each patient. Believe it or not, this may not be the case at many inexpensive laser spas throughout the GTA. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t! Safety is taken seriously at the Woodbridge Dermatology and Laser Centre, making us the most trusted clinic in Vaughan.
Dr. Gail Nield has been in practice for over two decades in Vaughan. She has a well-deserved reputation as being an honest and excellent cosmetic dermatologist.