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The History of Laser Hair Removal

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The History of Laser Hair Removal

Did you know that hair removal has been around since the cavemen and the ancient Egyptians? The methods they used were a bit rough compared to methods of modern times, but they got the job done. Nowadays much less painful techniques of hair removal exist, with laser hair removal being one of the most popular.

Origins of Laser Hair Removal

In 1960, a gentleman named Theodore Maiman invented the first working laser, a ruby laser. This was an incredible breakthrough in the world of physics, but his invention wouldn’t be used for hair removal just yet. Compared to today’s lasers, the ruby laser was slow and resulted in some nasty side effects like blistering and pigment changes in the skin. The invention of the laser, though, was the first step toward the easy process that is laser hair removal of today.

Some Failed Attempts

Many different lasers and laser-like devices were brought to the table through the 70s and 80s, but none were successful. Some researchers began using lasers for tattoo removal, and they noted that there would be hair loss in the treated area. This lead to more in depth experiments for using lasers only for hair removal. One of the most prominent researchers on the scene was Richard Rox Anderson, MD. The issue was finding a way to target only the hair follicle and not damage the skin in the surrounding area. A theory developed in 1983 called “selective photothermolysis” finally allowed lasers to destroy only the hair and not the skin. Dr. Anderson took these developments and discovered they could be used for hair removal. This lead to some great advancement for laser hair removal in the 1990s.

Illegal Marketing and FDA Approval

Many lasers were being introduced to the hair removal scene, claiming to permanently remove hair. These claims were of course false, as all of these lasers and procedures were new and not fully tested. Finally, in 1995, the FDA approved the first laser for hair removal, a YAG laser. Soon after, the market flooded with different types of lasers, the YAG laser and the Alexandrite laser being some of the most popular. Lasers quickly became a standard for removing hair, right alongside other methods like shaving and waxing. Developers continued to search for ways to improve the efficiency of these lasers while reducing the side effects.

Assessing Potential Candidates

Knowing who was a potential candidate for laser hair removal became an important part of the process. Thomas Fitzpatrick, MD, published the Fitzpatrick Skin Type Scale in 1975. The scale assigns numbers to varying shades of skin color based on how they respond to the sun. If you have porcelain white skin that burns easily, you would be skin type I and need the Alexandrite laser. Black skin that never burns would be skin type VI and would most likely need a YAG laser. Assessing skin types on this scale allows laser specialists to use the correct laser on each patient, since every skin tone reacts differently.

Laser Hair Removal Today

Laser hair removal remains one of the most popular forms of removing unwanted hair nowadays. It took around 40 years for researchers to develop the lasers used today, but they are far better than what we started with in the 60s. Instead of targeting every pore where you would like hair removed, modern lasers can target large patches of skin. The melanin in your skin converts the light to heat and disrupts future growth of hairs. This makes the hair removal process swift and effective. And now there are many different and effective types of lasers, allowing people of all skin types and colors to enjoy the results of laser hair removal. It’s comforting to know that the laser hair removal process has had so many intelligent minds contributing to the procedure we know and love today.

 

 

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