Laser Hair Removal for Skin of Color
Laser hair removal is one of the most sought after cosmetic laser procedure. As with all laser procedures, there is a chromophore or target structure for the laser wavelength. The laser wavelength is absorbed by the color pigment in the hair or melanin. When the heat extends beyond the hair bulb or follicle, the energy more effectively reduces the potential for regrowth. Since melanin is present in higher concentrations in the epidermis of skin of color, the proper laser wavelength along with other adjustable parameters for laser hair removal must be used and the settings understood by the esthetician.
Strategy in laser hair removal in the patients with skin type IV-VI involves understanding the anatomy of the skin. The epidermis has melanin but the hair follicle resides in the dermal layer. Hypopigmentation occurs when the melanocyte or the cell that produces the melanin, is damaged by the wavelength which is meant for the hair follicle. The result is patches of white on the skin due to the loss of pigment from the improper laser setting or wavelength.
Choosing the correct wavelength can minimize damage to the melanin avoiding hypopigmentation. A longer wavelength like the 1064 Nd:Yag causes less interference with melanin in the epidermis and can target better the follicle. Other adjusting is required. Skin of color can benefit from laser hair removal but in the hands of an astute esthetician who understands the parameters of the laser used for treatment.
Lighter skin types have the benefit of the 755 nm laser or the alexandrite which is more effective on the pigment in the hair follicle than the 1064. The use of the Nd:Yag on the darker skin types takes more patience with care to adjust the many parameters of this laser to achieve a desired hair reduction without causing hyper or hypopigmentation.
Side effects must be discussed with the patient. No two treatment areas respond the same. Areas exposed to sun in the past may have more post laser sensitivity and may be prone to pigment issues. skin texture and thickness also influence any post laser temporary hyperpigmentation or redness.
Learning the various laser hair removal devices is a plus to provide the best possible options for a client.
Skin of color must be evaluated carefully before a treatment plan is put in place. Talking to your client regarding previous laser treatment with any previous side effects, their expectations and their understanding of post laser care will maximize outcomes.