laser hair removal
BY: LBL Team

The History of Laser Hair Removal

How long has laser hair removal been around?

While laser hair removal is one of the most popular hair removal methods available, laser hair removal technology is relatively new, dating back to 1960.

Interested in learning more about how modern laser hair removal technology has come to be? Here’s a brief history:

When were lasers invented?

Theodore Maiman, a renowned physicist, invented the first laser designed to destroy hair follicles in 1960 and published his success in Nature Magazine. His invention’s technology was based on Albert Einstein’s theories, and a prior device called a maser (Microwave Amplification by Stimulation Emission of Radiation).

Maiman’s first laser was a ruby laser. Unlike the modern ruby laser found today in many laser hair removal devices, this laser was slow and inefficient. A group of researchers tested this laser on hair, and they found that while it did minimize hair growth, it also resulted in severe skin burns. What’s more, the ruby laser could only target a few hair follicles at a time, making hair removal a very tedious process.

In 1964, Joseph E. Geusic and Richard G Smith invented the YAG laser, and the FDA approved it for hair removal. Though it was found to be effective at reducing hair, it didn’t create permanent results. In the 1970s, the alexandrite laser was developed and became widely available on the market. While this laser was safer than the ruby and YAG, it still didn’t result in permanent hair reduction. This is because the alexandrite laser didn’t heat the hair follicles enough to destroy them effectively.

As different types of lasers were being tested for dermatological use throughout the 1970s, many practitioners observed that some laser treatments were more damaging to certain skin tones than others. In response, dermatologist Thomas B Fitzpatrick developed a prototyping scale that classifies skin color, which is still used today to determine suitable laser treatment candidates.

In 1983, scientists were able to develop a laser that used a pulse duration to precisely target the hair follicle, meaning it could target the follicle without damaging the skin.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s and into the early 1980s, the ruby, YAG, and alexandrite lasers were developed. Still, they were not yet refined and sophisticated like modern-day versions — these lasers resulted in severe side effects and only temporary hair removal. However, these lasers paved the way for the development of more advanced laser technology later on.

When was modern laser hair removal technology developed?

Since the early 1980s, laser technology hadn’t evolved, and many scientists had given up on the idea that lasers could be used in permanent hair removal. Then, Dr. Richard Rox Anderson and Dr. Melanie Grossman decided to start researching lasers used in hair removal and conduct experiments while at Harvard Medical School in the early 1990s. They were able to perfect some of the laser technology developed in previous years, namely the ruby laser. More specifically, they had perfected the laser’s duration and intensity when applied to the skin and made it safer. The FDA approved the ruby laser in 1997 for hair removal.

What is laser hair removal technology like today?

Laser hair removal technology has come a long way since the 1960s — it’s more innovative and sophisticated than ever before. Most lasers used in laser hair removal can now permanently reduce hair by up to 80%. Additionally, different lasers, like the ND:YAG, can now treat patients with darker skin tones, unlike previous lasers. Because modern-day lasers have shorter and more controlled pulse rates, there is also less risk of damage to the skin and surrounding hair follicles. While laser hair removal used to be very painful, many patients find that the pain level is now very tolerable.

Only choose the most experienced and skilled laser hair removal provider

When it comes to laser hair removal, you should choose only the most experienced and skilled provider, like LaserAway, that offers you a free detailed consultation where you can discuss your goals. LaserAway only uses the most innovative laser technology, like the Cynosure Apogee Elite, which is safe and effective for all skin types.

  1. “A Brief History of Laser Hair Removal,” Laser Smooth Company, October 18, 2017.
  2. “The History of Laser Hair Removal,” Infinity Laser Spa, July 2, 2020.
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