FAQ’s – Hair & PFB Removal with IPL
Patients that should not be treated include:
– those who are pregnant
– those who are sunburned or have irritated skin in the sites to be treated
– those who are exhibiting unidentified skin conditions in the sites to be treated
– those who have healed poorly after other types of laser treatments
– patients prone to skin discoloration
– patients who are taking photosensitizing medication, such as Accutane, should discontinue the medication 6 months before treatment
– patients who are taking topical Retin-A, patients should wait 2 weeks before treatment
– don’t apply laser energy to any raised lesions, aside from purely red ones i.e angiomas; other lesions should first be checked by a dermatologist
Some patients will not respond as well as others, and one factor is hair color. Some hairs don’t contain enough melanin to absorb the necessary energy to destroy or damage a follicle, and this is often the case with a light-colored hair (i.e., blond, gray, red). Another common factor to strong hair regrowth is hormonal imbalance, including PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome).
Patients who are sunburned should wait until the burn subsides. Herpes Simplex Labialis (fever blisters) can be activated by laser treatment, especially on the upper lip, and patients with a tendency for fever blistering can be started on antiviral medication before treatment.
Patients need to be informed that a very good result with LHR is when approx. 15% clearance is achieved in each treatment session, and that an excellent final outcome of clearance of 80% or more after 6 treatments is exceptional. So, they should have realistic expectations of the results from each session and the final outcome, and in the end they should never expect 100% clearance. Also, some patients will respond very little, or not at all, even if all the settings and technique are properly applied; this is most likely due to hormonal conditions or other medical issues. The clinician should consider a checkup after the second treatment to ensure, with photographic verification, that hair clearance is progressing at the same or similar rate as described herein, otherwise the patient might opt out of continued treatments.
Does the patient need to shave before the procedure?
The patient should shave 2 or 3 days before the procedure, leaving small 2 to 3mm stubs of hair. This is critically important for several reasons:
1. visible stubs ensures the hairs haven’t been waxed or plucked, so the shaft and follicle are intact and therefore efficacy is not compromised;
2. seeing the stubs allows you to establish the appropriate fluence for the patient, which should be set at a level that causes most of the stubs to visibly singe;
3. seeing the stubs allows you to target the areas with actual follicles, rather than wasting time delivering pulses on the skin in between follicles; and
4. seeing the hairs that DON’T singe enables the clinician to perform a second pass of 1 or 2 pulses per hair that DID NOT respond, to enhance total clearance per session.
How many treatment sessions are required?
This can vary depending on skin and hair color, but generally 4 to 6 sessions are required for 80% clearance or greater, which is considered very good in aesthetic laser medicine. After that, an annual maintenance treatment is recommended.
How does this treatment work on PFB (ingrown hairs)?
The laser energy is absorbed by pigment in actively growing hair, damaging the hair follicle and thus, hair regrowth is impeded, reducing and eliminating the bumps caused by ingrown hairs.
Do I need to use topical anesthesia? What about gels?
No. Anesthetics and cooling gels are not needed with LightPod Neo, because MicroPulse-1064 makes it uniquely pain-free. However, some buildup of heat will be experienced, and it is helpful if the clinician simply presses upon the treated area occasionally with the surgical glove that he/she is wearing, as this speeds up the dissipation of that heat.
Is it painful?
No, there is just a mild, very tolerable sensation of heat.
Do the hairs fall out? If so, when?
If the laser lens and fluence setting are chosen correctly, many hairs will singe upon contact with the laser beam and will disappear. Some hairs which are in a dormant growth phase will not respond at all, although some of them will be damaged even if they did not singe. Those which are damaged may fall out within a few days after treatment or even immediately if the treatment site is rubbed.
Is it permanent, or do the hairs grow back?
The FDA requires that laser manufacturers describe the process as “permanent hair reduction”, not “permanent hair removal”, because, in their words, “although laser treatments with these devices will permanently reduce the total number of body hairs, they will not result in a permanent removal of all hair.” Patients can generally expect more than 75% to 80% clearance after 6 sessions and should plan on 1 or 2 annual follow up sessions for ideal maintenance.
Is it ok to do multiple passes or pulse over the same follicles?
While it is not necessary to do multiple passes for hair removal, there is no contraindication to doing so. If there are hairs that did not singe or are still present, they should be removed during one of the following treatments and extra time does not need to be invested towards going over areas twice. As a general rule to appease patients, a clean-up pass to singe any remaining hairs may be done.
Can it be used on blond or gray hair?
There is no light based hair removal technology which is efficient on blond or gray hair because Melanin is the primary target or chromophore in LHR, so treatment efficacy is typically much lower if the hair is low in melanin (like gray or blond hair).