Diode Lasers

Diode lasers (800 nm) used for hair removal include:

— LightSheer (Lumenis, Santa Clara, CA)

— SLP 1000 (Palomar Medical Technologies, Lexington, MA)

— MeDioStar (Aesculap-Meditec, Irvine, CA)

Although the myriad diode lasers vary in their delivered energies, spot sizes, pulse duration, and associated cooling devices, they all set a popular standard for efficiency, reliability, and portability.

Because of reduced scattering at the longer 810-nm diode wavelengths, light from the diode laser penetrates more deeply into the skin. At 800 nm, 24% of incident fluence reaches a depth of 3 mm, whereas only 5% reaches the same depth with 700-nm light (Ross et al. 1999). Also, 800-nm energy is 30% less absorbed by melanin than that of the ruby laser, yet the 800-nm wavelength leads to better optical penetration.

In general, the diode laser system has been found to be better tolerated by patients with darker skin types (V-VI) as compared to the ruby laser (Adrian et al. 2000). This is likely due to its longer wavelength, longer pulse width, and associated active cooling.

In a prospective controlled trial, the 810-nm diode laser demonstrated a significant reduction in hair growth (Lou et al. 2000). Overall, clinical studies with the diode laser system have reported variable success rates ranging from 65-75% hair reduction at 3 months after one to two treatments with fluences of 10-40 J/cm2. This was increased to >75% hair reduction in 91% of subjects 8 months after three to four treatments at 40 J/cm2 (Williams et al. 1999). As expected, repeated treatments, generally at 4-week intervals, appears to improve results (Lou et al. 2000).

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