The History of Laser Hair Removal

The History of Laser Hair Removal

by Yenny (SU)

Laser hair removal is one of the most effective and advanced methods of hair removal available today. Many people take advantage of its long-lasting effects that come with little to no discomfort.

But this was not always the case. Some brave pioneers helped pave the way for the safe and pain-free lasers we enjoy today.

Laser was used as an acronym before it became a household word. Lasers – Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation – were invented in the 1960s. But the extremely concentrated light from lasers was initially difficult to harness into a strength that could be safely used on skin. Today, lasers are used for everything from weapons to precision surgical procedures in the operating room. Fortunately for all of us with unwanted body hair, the application of lasers for hair removal was first explored more than 40 years ago. 

Electrolysis has been around since 1948. This involved the use of energy (in this case, electricity) to remove hair by destroying the follicle. However, a needle must be inserted into every single hair to be removed. Compare that to the ease of lasers, which are capable of affecting large swaths of skin in one treatment, heating and destroying the follicles wherever the strongly focused light is applied.

The Alexandrite laser, developed in the 1970s, was the first to be relatively safe for skin, but did not have enough power to effectively heat and destroy the hair follicle or root. In the 1980s, a laser developed to remove birthmarks by targeting melanin in the skin was found to have the side effect of hair removal where it was applied. These early hair-removing lasers could only be used on people without a lot of melanin in their skin. According to the Fitzpatrick scale of skin tone, which is still in use today, only people who have skin types 1-3 were candidates for laser hair removal. The deeper skin tones of 4-6 would experience discoloration where the laser was applied. 

In 1995, the FDA approved the very first laser for hair removal. Within a few years, new types of hair-removal lasers were developed that focused solely on the hair follicles and did not burn the surrounding skin. However, it was not until the 2000s that lasers safe and effective for people with darker skin tones were approved by the FDA. 

Today, laser technicians and aestheticians determine the appropriate laser and settings for each client based on skin type, coloring, and hair color and consistency. At the Atlantic Center, expert laser technicians use the GentleMax Pro dual laser technology to destroy hair follicles safely and painlessly. As the laser includes melanin-targeting wavelengths, this treatment can eliminate vascular lesions and birthmarks as well.

With plastic surgeons and aestheticians at the top of their fields, the Atlantic Center of Aesthetic & Reconstructive Surgery offers the latest in skin and body treatments. Call us today at (954) 983-1899 or request an appointment online. We have locations in Florida serving Ft. Lauderdale, Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, Boynton Beach, and Naples. We also treat patients on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.