No, they do not work effectively to remove hair because of the low amount of light they are legally allowed to emit. In fact, most of these devices are not lasers at all. Most use intense pulse light (IPL) and legally are not allowed to make the claim of “ hair removal” but “hair reduction”, and the others are powered by a low energy diode laser.
The medical grade lasers used for laser hair removal generate a large amount of heat, which is why most use a special cooling device, (Candela has what is called a DCD cooling device) which is used to cool the skin at the same time the laser is activated to destroy your hair follicle. These home light devices do not incorporate cooling technologies because they are not powerful enough to require it. Additionally, the medical grade laser’s energy is so powerful that both the certified medical practitioner operating the laser and the patient must wear protective eyewear. If the “at home” lasers really worked for hair removal, they would require much more power than they currently are approved to use to be effective. Most review sites patients report between 30% and 50% reduction in hair after a year of constant use (most manufactures of these devices recommend doing multiple pulses in the same area and doing this multiple pass treatment every 2 weeks). The spot size on these devices on average is 1/4 of an inch, so just one session of repeating multiple pulses on a large area such as your legs could take days to complete.
In addition, we have had several cases at Ageless Medical where the patient has used these devices on dark or tanned skin (or used the device improperly). In these cases, we have seen our patients skin scarred and pigmented to a lighter color. So our advice is to be very wary on the effectiveness of these low powered home based light systems, use only on small areas and never use these on ethnic, dark or tanned skin.
by Erin Owoc, Dermatology Nurse Practitioner
Erin Owoc, ARNP-C has been practicing cosmetic dermatology for the last 7 years in Florida. Erin can be reached at (954) 680-8330.