Long-Term Safety Concerns

“HairFacts” site states that one of the disadvantages of the laser is that, “Long-term data on safety and effectiveness have not been accurately established.” Please excuse my ignorance.

  1. Is the laser targeting dark color? If so, is there nothing at the molecular level in skin cells that is also dark?

  2. How deep does the laser penetrate? Past the skin?

Any research articles on this specific topic would be greatly appreciated.

Just a little scared. :frowning:

Hi! Just a little information on lasers…the energy generated by a laser is produced by coherent light, which is a THERMAL energy. Many people confuse laser with x-ray, or ultra-violet light sources, but it is a different part of the light spectrum. Coherent light produces heat, and in the case of laser hair removal (and for vascular application) the particular wavelengths that are used are attracted to 2 different targets - melanin and oxyhemoglobin. Depending upon the wavelength, laser energy has a greater or lesser affinity for these 2 targets. In other words, a ruby laser has the greatest affinity for melanin, and down the line with alexandrite, diode and NdYag, which has the least affinity for melanin. This is why the new NdYag lasers can be used for darker skin types, because the laser needs a higher concentration of melanin for a target, so it does not “see” the color of the skin but only the hair (depending upon the settings used). Laser energy only penetrates the skin to about 7mm, which is approximately deep enough to get to the dermal papilla, which is the ultimate target of the energy. It is not like electricity, x-ray or UV light, all of which penetrate deeper or even systemically. Hope this clears things up. IF you can access ASLMS newsletters (at your University library) there is a wealth of research data on all laser applications. :wink:

Thank you, hairfetish.

Actually, there was another quote from HairFacts that I wanted to include: “Recent data suggest other skin structures are often affected by laser irradiation, and long term effects of this constitute an unknown risk.”

Science is a blessing, but scientists are also human & can sometimes be overly confident with their understanding of a domain.

Your reply was most informative. I will check out my university library. :wink:

PS I hope my anxiety on this does not scare anyone from making this troubling decision for themselves. I’m just trying to understand. :smile:

[ August 15, 2003, 01:25 PM: Message edited by: MonkeysUncle ]

I’ll jump in real quickly. There are two kinds of radation: ionizing and non-ionizing.

Ionizing is the “bad” kind: x-rays, gamma rays, UV rays. They can cause cellular damage and cancer.

Non-ionizing is the “good” kind, which includes lasers, etc. However, even this type may cause problems. The questions about electromagnetic frequency (EMF) radiation and microwaves have not been clearly established.

The FDA considers them generally recongized as safe, but there is limited data on long-term effects. This qualifies them for what they call in medicine an “unknown risk.” Could be safe, or not. There’s not enough info to say.

For a few sessions of hair removal performed by a competent practitioner, I’d say it’s probably safe in all likelihood, but no one knows for sure.

Thanks for that Andrea,

Think I may temporarily postpone this decision - other things to consider, too. However, if I do pursue the journal search, I’ll be sure to post any interesting long-term findings. Cheers

After having laser for almost 2 years on various areas (about 14 treatments total so far) the only long-term side effect was when I was burned during 1 treatment. The scars took over a year to fade, but I’m still going and now minimize the risk using ice packs.