Lasers are powerful tools used in the field of non-surgical cosmetic treatments. They are an essential part of my plastic surgery practice in Toronto. Unfortunately the regulations are very lax regarding who can own and perform laser treatments that, in the wrong hands, have the potential to burn and disfigure a patient. There are many unethical and untrained technicians who, at best, fail to provide the promised results, or at worst cause damage to patients wanting laser hair removal treatments.
The most established treatment with lasers is Laser Hair Removal, which we offer in Toronto. The first laser that arrived on the market in 1995 was the ruby laser. The ruby laser could only treat white skinned people with dark black hair. However, many advances have happened since that time. Different wave lengths are available, and we are able to treat most skin types and even the lighter brown hair tones. Studies show that 80% of the population who want to permanently remove and reduce unwanted growth will benefit from laser hair removal treatments. Today the ruby laser is no longer used for hair removal but is used to remove unwanted tattoos.
Lasers are approved by both Health Canada and the FDA for “permanent hair reduction.” The reason being, in controlled medical studies, it has been proven that laser hair removal can permanently disable up to 90% of growing hair follicles in the best case scenario. This means that you can expect most of your hair to be gone; however there will always be that 10% possibility of hair regrowth or new follicle activity. Therefore, most people do require maintenance over the years.
What is the best case scenario? The biggest factor on whether you will have successful hair removal and how many treatments it will take to get the desired look is hormones! Every person has approximately 5 million follicles that have the ability to become active. Your head hair accounts for about 20% of the 5 million. The amount of follicles active and the pattern of growth are stimulated by testosterone. Certain areas of the body, such as the face, are more sensitive to testosterone. If the testosterone in your body is at normal levels and your sensitivity to testosterone is at normal levels, than we have established guidelines for the number of treatments needed. You must remember that lasers are an exact science but people are not. Your sensitivity to testosterone can highly affect the number of treatments needed and laser hair maintenance needed for any new growth. This sensitivity is not a hormonal imbalance!
The patient with a true hormonal imbalance will require medication to reduce the raised levels of hormones and create balance in the body. The areas highly affected by a hormonal imbalance are the face, neck, chest and abdomen. This is known as having a male hair pattern. Proper medication will reduce continual new follicular activity and allow the laser treatments to work. A hormone specialist known as an endocrinologist should be following the patient for proper diagnosis and medications.
The best candidates for laser hair removal have lighter skin and the dark hair. However, the ND:Yag laser enables hair removal for darker skin tones to be done safely and effectively. There are higher risks of complications when treating brown skin tones, therefore it is extremely important that you look at the qualifications and experience of the technician and the clinic performing those treatments. Is there a doctor overseeing the treatments? If a complication does occur, are they equipped to treat the complication effectively? Surely not at your typical medi-spa or hair salon. There are no regulations in Ontario or Canada that governs cosmetic laser treatments! A reputable Toronto plastic surgery or dermatology clinic with an established laser practice is where you will have the most effective treatment and the safest environment.
At Visage Clinic in Toronto, the laser in our practice is the Cynosure Apogee Elite Laser. Recognised as the “Gold Standard” for permanent hair reduction, it is a dual laser that has the 755 nm Alexandrite laser and the 1064 nm Nd: Yag.
The 755 nm Alexandrite has been medical-tested to have the highest efficacy for patients with lighter skin tones. Multiple treatments have proven to reduce hair up to 95%.
The 1064 nm Nd: Yag is safest for darker skin tones. The laser penetrates deeper in the skin than the Alexandrite, Diode or IPL, but with less absorption at the upper skin level. Dark skin patients can have excellent results with an experienced technician and multiple treatments.
If laser hair removal is something you are considering, don’t fall for the gimmicks of “painless laser hair removal”. In order to permanently damage the follicle matrix and stop the hair from returning, the energy or heat from the laser must be high enough to cauterize the capillaries that feed the follicle and destroy the matrix. Painless laser treatments are only a temporary fix and a waste of your hard-earned dollars.
Recovery is short and simple. Cost varies depending on the surface area to be treated and hair density.
Laser hair removal is considered a cosmetic treatment and is not covered under OHIP. Laser hair removal must be ethical and medical protocols must be standard. Promises of pain free or quick results should not be mentioned.
Your choice of laser clinic should be based on best treatment rather than best price. You have the ability to make the choice, but you do have to live by the consequences of your choices.
At Visage Clinic, Toronto Dr. Marc DuPéré specializes in cosmetic plastic surgery procedures of the face and body and cosmetic laser procedures are an established part of the practice.
by Visage Clinic MD Team