Human hair, its amount and distribution, plays an important role in defining appearance in contemporary society. Hair also functions in many mammals as a sensory organ, reduces friction in certain anatomic sites, protects against the environment by providing thermal insulation and thermoregulation, aids in pheromone dissemination, and plays both social and sexual roles (Wheeland 1997).
Individuals, seeking consultation for the removal of unwanted body hair, generally have increased hair in undesirable locations sec ondary to genetics or medical conditions. These individuals may be classified as having hir-sutism or hypertrichosis. More commonly, those seeking hair removal have hair that would be considered normal in distribution and density. However, these individuals, for emotional, social, cultural, cosmetic, or other reasons, want the hair to be removed.
There has always been the need for an ideal method of hair removal that is both practical and effective. Traditional hair removal techniques have included shaving, waxing, tweez-ing, chemical depilation, and electrolysis.
In the early twentieth century, radiograph machines were widely used for removal of facial hair in women. Unfortunately, these treatments were associated with a high risk of complications and the potential for subsequent treatment-induced carcinogenesis.
Maiman, using a ruby crystal in 1960, developed stimulated laser emission of a 694-nm red light. This was the first working laser, and it is from this prototype that today's lasers are derived. Since 1960, research and technical advances have led to modern day lasers. Leon Goldman, the father of laser surgery, published preliminary results on the effects of a ruby laser for the treatment of skin diseases. Ohshiro et al. noted hair loss from nevi after treatment with a ruby laser (Ohshiro et al. 1983).
Early reports described the use of a CO2 laser to eliminate unwanted hair on flaps used for pharyngoesophageal procedures. A continuous-wave Nd:YAG laser has also been shown to remove hair in urethral grafts All of this early work described lasers using ablative techniques with the effect of nonspecific vaporization of skin cells. These methods are not commonly used for hair removal today because of their limited effectiveness as well as their commonly induced permanent pigmentary changes and scarring.
Was this article helpful?