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The Fascinating Story of Laser Hair Removal

By 11 January 2021October 8th, 2021No Comments

It is a known fact that hair removal by laser is one of the most trusted options for those looking for long term results. In fact, the global laser hair removal industry has an estimated growth annual growth rate of over 15%, and this by no means is a small number. But statistics aside, have you ever wondered how did this industry even come into being? Allow us to be your guide.

Our Early Attempts at Hair Removal

Since ancient times, humans have experimented with different ways of getting rid of unwanted body hair. Right from using tools like pumice stone and sea-shell tweezers to the sugaring technique from ancient Egypt, threading from Persia and walnut oil blends in 16th century Europe, we humans seem to have explored almost everything possible to remove, and keep unwanted hair away!

Some of these methods proved to be more successful than others, and eventually made way for more contemporary methods, such as shaving, waxing and depilatory creams which are popularly used today. However, all of these offer short term results and the quest to find a safe and effective way for long term hair removal was far from over.

The Advent of Technology-Enabled Hair Removal

It wasn’t long before we started turning to technology to help us achieve the desired results, and 1875 was when electrolysis came into the picture. This method involves the use of an electric current to destroy hair follicles, and get permanent freedom from body hair. Yes, it is even more painful than it sounds, and we are not even going to go into more detail. But given the nature of this treatment, while it did have quite a few takers, it didn’t quite gain much popularity because of the prohibitive pain and associated costs.

The First Laser, Ever!

Theodore Maiman is credited with the invention of the laser, as we know it today. This American engineer invented the first shortwave laser in 1960, for a completely different purpose. That’s right, the first laser was never really intended for hair removal! Somehow, this laser happened to be tested on human hair, and it was found to minimize hair growth. However, this also resulted in severe skin burns, which was something that needed more work on.

Subsequent Improvement in Laser Technology

After some more intensive research and testing, the YAG Laser received an FDA approval in 1964. This was relatively safe and efficient as compared to the first laser, but continued to give short term results. Some more research over the next few years led to the development of the Alexandrite Laser in the 70s. This was the safest laser till date, but continued to disappoint when it came to long term results as it didn’t create the required heat to permanently end hair growth. There was almost an impasse of sorts for a long time after this, with many scientists and doctors almost giving up on this prospect.

This was until Dr. Richard Rox Anderson and Dr. Melanie Grossman came into the picture. Grossman, who was hired by Anderson while he was working at the Harvard Medical School, suggested that they relook at laser hair removal. And if it weren’t for this suggestion, the prospect of laser hair removal would have remained just that – a prospect! Thus began new tests with the existing laser technology, initially on hairy street dogs, and then later, on humans! Anderson was among the first human trials in 1994, as per his principal of self-testing before testing on others. It was their work that formed the basis of modern laser hair removal, and Dr. Anderson went on to achieve over 60 patents in laser related treatments for both cosmetic and medical conditions. He also published over 250 scientific papers and books on the subject.

But while we credit Dr. Anderson, we cannot forget the contribution of Dr. Thomas B. Fitzpatrick, a Harvard dermatologist who created the Fitzpatrick scale classification of human skin colour, which is an important tool to identify who would make a good candidate for laser treatments.

Laser Hair Removal today

We’ve come a long way since, and laser technology is now safer than ever before. Not only this, it is also painless and very effective at providing long term results, helping most people achieve an almost 95% reduction in hair growth. Newer lasers have been developed to work on a wider range of skin colours and conditions, and there are even at-home laser devices available today. Laser has become the undisputed treatment of choice for both women and men alike, who are looking for long term freedom from unwanted hair.

Victorian Laser & Skin Clinic is a reputed laser clinic in Melbourne, offering laser hair removal and a variety of laser treatments for different skin conditions. We have experienced technicians at all of our four locations in the city, and offer a no-obligation consultation for those interested to explore this option.

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Collins St CBD
Hawthorn
Mt Waverley
Viewbank