Thursday, February 20, 2014

Laser Hair Removal and Hidradenitis Suppuritiva

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Lasers and Laser Hair Removal

As described in my previous blog Hidradenitis of the Armpits Hidradenitis occurs when a plug of dead skin in the duct of a gland emptying into a hair follicle initiates an infectious process as bacteria multiply within the plugged gland. As the gland swells a boil becomes visible. The obstructed gland or boil ruptures into the deep layers of the skin; adjacent glands become involved; and abscesses form. Subsequently, multiple draining sinuses or holes appear on the skin surface and the whole hair bearing area may become inflamed. Such inflammation may result in star shaped skin scars and tunneling, causing ridging of the skin. The association of Hidradenitis with hair follicles has fed the notion that removal of this hair early in the process can cure or ameliorate Hidradenitis. Since the 1990s laser treatment to remove unwanted hair has become increasingly popular therefore such treatments should to some degree treat Hidradenitis.

A laser is basically a container of some medium (such as a liquid dye, gas, etc) into which an electrical charge  or flash of light is introduced. The charge or flash excites electrons in the material at the molecular level and the material gives off a narrow band width of light as the electrons come out of excitation. The exact wavelength of light created depends on the material itself and the characteristics of the charge or flash. Mirrors inside the container bounce the light around to create a chain reaction of molecular excitation and the emitted light is allowed to escape through a pinhole. This single wavelength coherent light is then focused down into a hand piece so it can be applied to tissue. The effect on the tissues depends on which tissue components absorb the specific wavelength of light, the depth into the the tissue that the laser can penetrate, the duration of exposure to the light (pulse width), the power of the light at the point of tissue contact, etc.

Laser penetration is a factor of light wavelength with usually greater penetration for lasers with higher wavelengths of light. The wavelength also governs which tissue component will absorb a specific wavelength.

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