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Does it hurt?

As the light energy is absorbed by the target chromophores, the pain depends upon the concentration of melanin in the epidermis and the hairs combined. Consequently it hurts more in dark skinned patients and those with dense, black hair. Most clients describe the pain as moderate (like snapping a rubber band onto the skin).


Do you need to shave prior to hair removal treatment?

Hairs should be 1-2 mm long when the clients come in for treatment so it is possible to mark the treatment area. It is important to use a RED pen to avoid energy uptake in the dye with consequent burns. Long hairs absorb the energy and prevent all of it reaching the hair follicle. They also curl up during treatment and can become attached to the applicator. The optimal results are obtained with clean-shaven areas.


Why do some clinics say removal and some say reduction?

Removal relates to the follicle itself not the anatomical area. It is perfectly possible to destroy or damage a follicle so that it will never produce a hair but as we continue to develop follicles throughout much of our life it is impossible to state for certain that the area treated will be free of hair forever more. A more accurate description is therefore reduction because the more treatments you have the fewer active follicles will remain. Another factor is the hair itself very often some will remain after treatment. The most common reason for this with laser and IPL treatments is because light hairs are not usually affected by the treatments and so after treatment they remain.


How can you tell if the hair treatment has worked when the hairs are not removed immediately?

After treatment the hairs are often loose in the follicle and can easily be pulled out with tweezers. A red ring around each follicle is sometimes seen a few minutes after treatment. These two indications are good signs that sufficient heating of follicles have taken place. However, they are not always seen. Many clients have successful treatment results without these post treatment signs.


How does the system work when removing hair?

The energy from the light source is absorbed by the target chromophore (melanin) in the hair. Selective filtration makes the energy uptake specific for melanin (600 - 950 nm). Hair removal is accomplished by absorption of the light energy in the melanin in the hair, which is then transferred to the hair follicle. Pulse times have been chosen to destroy the hair follicle by heating it up to 70 C for more than 1 ms.


How does the system work when removing vascular disorders?

The energy from the light source is absorbed by the target chromophore ((oxy)haemoglobin) in the blood. Selective filtration makes the energy uptake specific for (oxy)haemoglobin (550 - 950 nm).

The light energy will be absorbed by the (oxy)haemoglobin in the vessel and conducted to the vessel wall. The vessel wall is heated up to 70 C for at least 1 ms resulting in destruction of the protein in it.


How does the system work?

The energy from the light source is absorbed by the target chromophore (melanin in the hair or (oxy)haemoglobin in the blood). Selective filtration of the light makes the energy uptake specific for the target.

Hair removal is accomplished by absorption of the light energy in the melanin in the hair. When absorbed, the energy is converted into heat that is conducted to the hair follicle leading to destruction when heated to 70 C for just one thousand of a second. The same principle applies for treating a vascular disorders where the light energy is absorbed by the (oxy)haemoglobin in the vessel and conducted to the vessel wall. The vessel wall is heated up to 70 C for at least a thousand of a second resulting in destruction of the protein in it.


Is the treatment quicker than other systems?

The applicator "foot print" is approx. 20 times larger than the area of a traditional Ruby-laser spot and the treatment is, therefore, much faster. A facial treatment usually takes 10 min whereas either legs or an entire back takes approximately 60 min.


How many treatments are necessary for permanent hair removal?

Only hair in the growth phase can be treated. The number of hairs in this phase varies from 10-70% depending on the body site. The lengths of the growth cycles also vary. For most patients 3-6 treatments with 2 months intervals are sufficient to remove the majority of the facial hair. For some patients 5-6 treatments are needed to get optimal results.


Is any post-treatment needed?

Patients with delicate skin may benefit from a single application of glucocorticoid creme immediately after treatment and antiseptic cream (chlorhexidine 1%) for a few days.We give our clients a lotion of Tea Tree to use twice a day for five days to ensure that risk of problems is reducted to a minimum. It is also recommended to limit sun exposure and to use sun screen (SPF 15-20) for a few weeks following treatment.


Is permanent hair removal possible?

Nobody knows for sure. Hair management is an increasingly used terminology. After the first treatment most patients get significant reduction in hair density - also re-grown hairs tend to become finer and slightly less dark. It is important to know - and to inform patients - that the first treatment is believed to synchronise the anagen (growth) phase of the non-anagen hairs. This may cause what seems to be re-growth - but what is happening is that all the remaining "sleeping hairs" start growing at the same time. This in turn makes the next treatment(s) more effective.


What are the side effects?

The skin of some patients become quite red immediately after treatment and occasionally small blister as from excessive sun exposure can occur. However, most clients experience no side effects and the described skin reactions usually disappear within hours to a few days. Most clients experience fewer problems than after laser treatment. In rare cases, transient pigment changes in the skin can occur.


What precautions are needed?

Clients should avoid tanning one month ahead of and during the series of treatments. Immediately after the treatment the skin is particularly sensitive to UV-light. Sun exposure of the treated area should be avoided for a couple of weeks to a month to improve the long-term results. A sunscreen SPF 15 - 20 must be used for a couple of weeks after the treatment.


Which patients can be treated?

Black hairs are most easily treated due to the large concentration of melanin in these hairs, which gives an optimal absorption and conversion of light energy to heat. Fair hair has less melanin and consequently less heat is produced with less certainty of permanent destruction of the hair follicles. Grey (white) hair has no melanin and cannot be efficiently treated.

The upper skin layer, the epidermis, also contains melanin and the concentration increases when the skin is exposed to UV-light. It is therefore necessary to treat dark-skinned and tanned individuals with less energy to avoid generation of heat (pain and/or burns). The ideal patient is fair skinned with dark hairs but the Ellipse system computer has pre-programmed treatment suggestions for different hair and pigment types.


Why do hairs grow?

Contrary to laser treatment, hairs are not evaporated by the Ellipse system treatment. The heat destroys the hair follicles but the hairs remain in the follicles and have often become attached to the epidermis. They will fall out after 1-3 weeks as the epidermis is renewed. During this period it will seem that the hairs are growing as the epidermis pulls them out. This is important information to the clients. Without it the clients may be unsatisfied for several weeks.


Why is gel used?

It is necessary to apply a thin layer of gel to the skin prior to treatment to assure the optimal transmission of light from the applicator to the skin. To remove bubbles in the gel the applicator is moved back and forth a few times in the gel before the treatment is started.



We would like to express our thanks to Thermolase, Ellipse Intense Pulsed Light, DDD (Denmark), Enhance Technology plc, House of Famuir Ltd, Dectro International for their help and assistance in providing the above information.