Laser Hair Removal
California Laser Hair Removal
Sciton Profile Dual Nd:YAG Laser
In the past, we were able to treat facial blood vessels, freckles and other sun-induced pigmentation, wrinkles, and tattoos using our KTP, Nd:YAG, and UltraPulse CO2 lasers. For hair removal, however, these lasers were less than optimal with regard to both safety and effectiveness.
When the long-wavelength Cutera CoolGlide Excel laser was introduced, I concluded that at last we had a tool available that had the combination of flexibility, safety, and effectiveness to allow us to begin to offer California hair removal treatment to our patients. After over three years of experience with the CoolGlide Laser, we have now replaced this laser with the hand built Sciton Profile Laser, a significant improvement over the CoolGlide. The Sciton has the same safe long wavelength laser that was in the CoolGlide, but the Sciton has numerous advantages. Because it fires through a sapphire cooling plate, it assures that the skin is optimally cooled before, during, and after the laser pulse. This results in a treatment that is both safer and less painful than treatments with the CoolGlide. Furthermore, the laser pulses are delivered via a computer-controlled scanner, rather than by manual movement of the laser head. The computer control assures that there is the exact amount of desired pulse overlap, no more and no less. Also, the computer fires the pulses in a pattern that assures that every part of the skin is covered, and also that each laser pulse is separated in time from the pulses on either side of it. This keeps the heat from one pulse from spreading to the adjacent pulse. This combination assures more uniform coverage with each treatment session, and the more perfect control of energy spread from adjacent areas further enhances comfort and safety. Furthermore, because the Sciton has dual Nd:YAG lasers, one can fire while the second is recharging. This means much shorter treatment sessions. Finally, because of its highly customizable advanced computerized control system, the treatment parameters are much more likely to be error free, as well as more effective, than older laser systems.
The purpose of the information presented here is to help you understand the nature of this major advance in California laser hair removal.
How the Sciton Profile Laser Removes Unwanted Hair
This device provides an effective, fast, gentle, very safe method of hair removal. It generates intense, focused light pulses of a specific wavelength, which is readily absorbed by the pigment (coloring) within the hair follicle. This technology was refined through extensive research and clinical use of lasers with various wavelengths. As problems and shortcomings with other wavelengths became apparent, this particular wavelength stood out as the superior option, able to safely pass through skin of all types and colors, while still achieving optimal effectiveness.
The device utilizes a specialized sapphire cooling plate, which the laser energy must pass through before it contacts your body. This controls the temperature effectively and precisely, optimizing your comfort. A single pulse of laser energy only lasts for thousandths on one second, so it is absorbed by the targeted follicle almost in its entirety. Because the device is computerized, the spacing and timing of pulses is executed with exacting precision, which further reduces the risk of patient discomfort, or the spread of laser energy to surrounding tissues. Simply stated, this innovative design protects your skin, while directing the energy to deep hair roots.
Sciton Profile Laser utilizes a wider beam than many systems, allowing a greater number of follicles to be treated with each pulse. This is advantageous, as it allows the treatment of larger areas, such as the abdomen, back, arms, or legs, in one session. It is safe to use anywhere on the body, with the exception of hairs in close proximity to the eyes. The procedure is gentle enough to be performed with only mild anesthetic or with no anesthetic at all. It can even be used comfortably on sensitive areas, including the bikini line, nipples, and upper lip. The flexibility of this system, and the innovative design of the handpiece, allows us to tailor the treated according to each patient’s skin color, hair color, and hair texture. Permanent improvement can be achieved with just a few treatment sessions.
How Is Sciton Profile Laser Different From Previous Systems?
In the past, lasers typically relied on very short light wavelengths, such as 694 to 810 nanometers. While these devices worked well under specific conditions, a high percentage of the energy is absorbed through the surface of the skin, reducing the amount that reaches the hair follicles beneath the surface. It also increases the risk of damaging the skin, rendering these wavelengths unsafe for most dark skinned individuals (including those whose skin was darkened by tanning).
Sciton Profile Laser utilizes a much longer (1064 nanometers) wavelength, which reaches deep hair roots, with minimal impact on surrounding tissue. This makes laser hair removal safe and effective for all skin types and ethnicities, which is an important improvement over older, limited systems. Additionally, the sophisticated computer controlled pulses are automatically optimized according to each patient’s skin and hair type and color, delivering individualized treatment with precision accuracy. The technician wears clear protective goggles when using this system, which facilitates better visualization compared to antiquated short-wavelength systems.
Am I a Good Candidate for This Treatment?
People with light colored skin and dark, coarse hair typically respond best to laser hair removal. Darker skin contains higher concentrations of melanin (pigment), which competes with the pigment in the follicle for absorption of laser energy. For this reason, you should avoid tanning before and after treatment. Due to the cooling action of the sapphire plate, in combination with the longer light wavelength, this type of laser tends to scatter less and penetrate deeper than alternatives, making it the premier choice for treating dark skin.
Gray or very light blond hairs do not respond well to laser treatment, because there is little to no pigment to absorb the energy. The Sciton laser appears to have the greatest potential for treating light colored hair, due to its safety, enhanced effectiveness, and uniquely flexible design. However, we cannot recommend laser hair removal for blond hairs at this time, because we are still studying and refining the technique.
What Areas Can Be Treated with Laser Hair Removal?
Anywhere that you have unwanted hair, except in the immediate vicinity of the eyes, can be treated using the Sciton Profile laser. The most common treatment areas in women are the underarms, legs, arms, bikini line, lateral cheeks, upper lip, and chin. Another increasingly popular treatment is complete hair removal in the groin area, and the Sciton Profile laser is the best choice for this because of its gentleness. In men, the most common treatment areas include the beard area, back, and shoulders. Sciton Profile laser is the premier choice for treating these areas as well, due to its speed and effectiveness.
What Are the Benefits of Laser Treatment As Compared to Other Hair Removal Techniques?
We use the Sciton Profile laser, which is an advanced instrument that can be adjusted with exacting precision, for accurate treatment. Unlike electrolysis, which treats one hair at a time, this laser emits a broad energy beam, capable of treating many hairs simultaneously. It is a faster, more comfortable option than electrolysis, and it can treat hairs that were previously considered untreatable.
This system provides fast, safe, effective, and permanent reduction of hair. It reduces the number of hairs in the treatment area, as well as lessening the size and color of any hairs that do regrow. This laser has earned FDA certification for hair removal. The results are considered permanent, because although some hairs may remain in the treatment area they are smaller and lighter in color, making them a less significant cosmetic problem. According to FDA guidelines, "permanent" is defined as the continuing absence of hair two years after the area has been treated. Typically, 70 percent of patients treated see an improvement of 70 percent; 20 percent of patients see improvement of between 70 and 90 percent; five percent see improvement greater than 90 percent. The remaining five percent of patients are non-responsive to treatment for unknown reasons. Hairs that do remain after treatment are finer in texture and lighter in color than the hair that grew before treatment.
What Is Electrolysis?
Electrolysis treats one hair at a time by inserting a fine probe into what is hopefully the base of the hair and destroying the hair root with small electric shocks. Electrolysis is useful for treatment of small numbers of hairs, hairs from areas in which it is difficult to use the laser such as around the eyes, in the nose, and in the ears. Electrolysis may also be useful to people who have very fair hair, which does not absorb the energy from the laser. Electrolysis does not produce total clearing of all hairs and can be a very slow and time-consuming procedure.
Are the Results of Treatment Permanent?
The Sciton Profile system of hair removal has been studied extensively, and the result of long-term research indicates that most hairs become too tiny to be visible. However, there may be some hairs that are injured without being destroyed, and therefore rendered inactive temporarily. These hairs may begin to regrow after a period of time. Therefore, six treatment sessions, timed at six-week intervals, are necessary to achieve optimal results. Even after a series of treatments, you may have some persistent hairs that continue to grow. Permanent reduction of 70 to 90 percent is a very realistic goal, although it is important to understand that some patients do not see this amount of improvement. Any remaining hairs are typically smaller in diameter and lighter in color, making them far less noticeable. The Sciton Profile Laser is certified by the Food and Drug Administration to produce permanent hair removal.
How Much Hair Will Grow Back, and How Fast Will It Grow?
Hair growth is cyclical in nature; it goes through active and resting phases. Laser energy acts on pigment found in the follicles of actively growing hairs. The actual hair shafts are shed within a month of treatment. For a person who is a good candidate for laser hair removal, a reduction of 30 percent is typically achieved with a single treatment. Stunned but not destroyed follicles will remain inactive for two to four months. Additionally, since laser energy has no effect on resting follicles, they may become active, beginning to grow new hairs.
The overall success of treatment cannot be determined until at least six months have passed since the series of sessions was completed. In a successful case, the results are very long lasting, although our data and research are limited by the fact that this treatment only became available a decade ago. There is a possibility that, at some point in the future, some regrowth may occur. However, to date, our patients are enjoying excellent, stable results. Hair growth and development continues as we age, which is evidenced by the coarse hairs seen on the faces of some elderly women. Therefore, even people who have achieved exceptional results may eventually wish to seek a touch-up treatment.
How Should I Prepare for Laser Hair Removal Treatment?
Avoid tanning with natural sunlight or indoor lamps. You should also avoid waxing or plucking hairs for at least 14 days prior to treatment. You can bleach the hairs, because the chemicals will not reach the hair root, which is where the laser energy works its magic. Pigment in the visible part of the hair is irrelevant to treatment, because we will shave the area after taking photographs, before beginning treatment. For subsequent appointments, we will ask that you shave the area at home, at least two hours prior to your laser session. Hairs extending above the skin surface are detrimental because they absorb some of the laser energy before it can reach the root. Skin is a bit more sensitive immediately after shaving, which is why we ask that you shave earlier to make your experience more comfortable. It also gives you the opportunity to define the treatment region in areas such as the bikini line.
Please avoid taking anticoagulants (medications that prevent blood clotting) such as aspirin immediately prior to and following laser treatment. This will help minimize post-treatment bruising. In addition, we ask that you do not wear any cosmetic products on the skin that is to be treated. Because some cosmetics absorb laser energy they can cause overheating of the skin surface, as well as decreasing the amount of energy reaching the deep hair roots. If you wish, you can apply cosmetics immediately after your appointment.
It is extremely important that you tell your RN and Dr. Bock if you have any kind of permanent makeup near the treatment site. Permanent eyeliner, lip liner, eyebrows, and similar cosmetic enhancements are actually tattoos, and the pigment can absorb laser energy. This can alter the color of the ink, overheat the skin, or both.
You are welcome to bring a friend or family member with you if you wish. However, that individual will need protective eyewear (goggles) while the laser is being used.
How Long Will My Appointment Take?
The Sciton Profile Laser is much faster than many systems, because a large number of hair follicles can be treated with each pulse. Therefore, facial areas such as cheeks, chin, or lip only take about ten minutes. Smaller body areas such as the bikini line or underarms will take about fifteen minutes, and larger areas such as the entire back, both arms, or legs will take about thirty minutes.
Does Laser Hair Removal Hurt?
You will likely experience some fleeting discomfort during treatment, but most patients do not call it painful. The sensation is often compared to the feeling of a rubber band snapping against the skin. Our patients often comment that they experience much less discomfort during subsequent sessions than they did during the initial treatment. The first session may seem more uncomfortable due to the apprehension associated with an unfamiliar experience. Once people discover how fast and gentle laser hair removal can be, their nervousness fades away!
We highly recommend shaving two hours before the time of your appointment, to make it even more comfortable. Local anesthetic is available, which some patients request when particularly sensitive or large areas are being treated. Additionally, we can prescribe a mild sedative medication, but you will need to arrange transportation if you choose this option, because you will be unable to drive until the medicine has worn off. Patients who have had electrolysis, waxing, or even laser treatments with a different system frequently tell us how much gentler and more comfortable the Sciton Profile Laser is.
If the treatment area is particularly sensitive, or you have low pain tolerance, you can obtain LMX anesthetic cream. A thick layer should be applied to the area to be treated approximately 45 minutes prior to your appointment. Additionally, some patients find that taking an over the counter pain reliever, such as Tylenol or Aleve (not aspirin or any other anticoagulant) a couple of hours before treatment is helpful. We are the only center in the Stockton area that has the Zimmer Cryo 5 cooling system, which blows cool air on the skin, further reducing the discomfort and protecting the skin surface. If you experience undue discomfort during the treatment, please let us know so we can apply additional cooling or change the settings of the laser.
How Will I Look After My Appointment?
Immediately following laser treatment, the skin usually becomes a bit puffy and reddish in color, particularly the area surrounding hairs. This is a normal reaction and is not a cause for alarm. However, we will ask that you pay attention and carefully record how long it takes to fade. This information will help us optimize the comfort and effectiveness of subsequent sessions. You will not need to wear bandages because the skin is not broken or otherwise injured. Most cosmetic products can be applied to the treatment area immediately after your session, if you wish. You can use a gentle moisturizer such as Lipikar Balm to improve persistent redness. A large percentage of the treated hairs will shed within two or three weeks. It may initially appear that these hairs are continuing to grow. If portion of the hairs remain longer than three weeks, these will be treated in subsequent sessions.
How Many Laser Sessions Will I Need?
In most cases, six treatments are needed, and these must be timed exactly six weeks apart. At any given time, approximately 50 to 80 percent of hairs are in the active growth phase; the remainder is resting, and they will not be affected by laser energy. Additionally, some hairs will not have sufficient pigment in the roots for the laser to destroy them. In time, as hairs cycle through various phases, they will reach the optimal conditions for laser treatment. This is why several treatments are necessary.
At times, re-treatment may be needed to eliminate fine hairs that have reemerged. It is important to understand that no single session can eliminate 100 percent of hairs in any area. On average, each session will destroy 25 to 30 percent of pigmented, active hairs. Therefore, everyone will require a minimum of six treatments to achieve optimal results. It may seem as if the first four treatments have removed all hairs, but the final treatments are essential for longevity of results. Certain patients may require more than six treatments, especially those who have been inconstant and not attended earlier appointments on the exact date recommended. Because hairs can become thicker as you age, a touch-up may be needed in the future.
What Risks Are Associated with Laser Hair Removal?
Mild swelling or redness is normal, and it should resolve itself in a matter of hours or days. In rare instances, a blister may develop. Even more rare, but possible, is an infection or scarring. Individuals carrying the herpes virus may experience a flare following any kind of skin injury, but this can usually be avoided with appropriate preventive medicine. Dark skinned individuals are at the greatest risk of experiencing changes in skin color, which may become darker or lighter. However, the Sciton Profile Laser minimizes these risks, due to its longer wavelength and sapphire cooling plate. You should understand that similar risks are associated with alternative treatments such as electrolysis, waxing, or even shaving.
What Kind of Aftercare Is Required?
In most cases, there aren’t any noticeable after effects from Sciton Profile Laser treatment. Avoid irritants such as abrasive cleaners or acne medications in the treated area. Lipikar Balm, or similar topical moisturizers can be beneficial, helping to resolve pinkness or redness. Cold packs can also be helpful in reducing swelling. Sun protection is important. We recommend a combination of protective clothing and a high SPF, broad-spectrum sunscreen. The best products for this use are available for purchase at our office. We have seen a few patients experience problems resulting from exposing the treatment area, so this step is very important.
You will be able to return to work and resume normal activities immediately after your appointment. After three or four days you can shave the treated area if you wish, but do not pluck, wax, or otherwise extract hairs from the treatment area. Also, avoid using depilatory creams. To ensure optimal effectiveness, do not use any hair removal technique other than shaving during the course of treatment.
What People Are Not Good Candidates for Laser Hair Removal?
Thanks to the innovative design of the Sciton Profile Laser, all types and colors of skin can be treated. However, darker skin requires gentler, and therefore slower, treatment. For optimal speed and safety of treatment, the area should not be tanned. Gray or light blond hairs do not respond well to laser energy. In our office, we have had excellent success treating people who are good candidates, including those who have seen little to no results from other laser treatment or alternatives such as electrolysis. Children can be treated with good results, but they must be old enough to understand instructions and willingly cooperate with the doctor.
Am I Able to Call In and Schedule Treatments?
Consultations can be arranged by calling 209-751-4292. Our staff, who have themselves been treated with the Sciton Profile Laser, can answer your questions and discuss your options. No referral is required. Consultations prior to treatment are for your safety, to ensure that you are a good candidate for the procedure and that you are not at risk for potential problems, such as recurrent herpes infections in the treatment area. If you decide to proceed with the treatment, the $90 consultation fee will be deducted from the cost of the initial session.
Why Choose California Skin & Laser Center for Hair Removal Treatment?
Dr. Bock and his exceptional staff are committed to helping you enjoy an excellent outcome from treatment, as well as ensuring that your concerns and needs have been addressed in a compassionate and timely manner. All procedures in our office are performed by a board-certified dermatologist, or by a properly trained nurse under the close supervision of a board-certified dermatologist.
We offer a wide range of products and services, utilizing the latest technologies to bring you the best care available. Our offices, located in Stockton and Lodi, CA, are convenient to communities through the San Joaquin County, the Central Valley, and the San Francisco Bay area. We frequently see patients from Sacramento, Tracy, Manteca, Modesto, Galt, and Valley Springs.