Skin Pigmentation and Texture Changes after Hair Removal with the Normal-mode Ruby Laser: Evaluations by Skin Reflectance, Profilometry, and Ultrasonography
Merete Haedersdal, Henrik Egekvist, Jan Efsen, Peter Bjerring
Promising clinical results have been obtained with the normal mode ruby laser for removal of unwanted hair. Melanin within the hair follicles is thought to act as target for the ruby laser pulses, whereas epidermal melanin is thought to be a competitive chromophore, responsible for potential side effects. This study aimed (i) to objectify postoperative changes in skin pigmentation and texture and (ii) to evaluate the importance of variations in preoperative skin pigmentation for the development of side effects 12 weeks after 1 treatment with the normal-mode ruby laser. A total of 17 volunteers (skin types I-IV) were laser-treated in the hairy pubic region (n=51 test areas). A shaved test area served as control. Skin reflectance spectroscopical measurements, 3-dimensional surface contour analysis and ultrasonography objectified postoperative changes in skin pigmentation and texture. Blinded clinical assessments revealed postoperative hyperpigmentation (2% of test areas) and hypopigmentation (10%), whereas no textural changes were seen. Reflectance spectroscopically-determined pigmentary changes depended on the degree of preoperative skin pigmentation, fairly pigmented skin types experiencing subclinical hyperpigmentation and darkly pigmented skin types experiencing subclinical hypopigmentation. Three-dimensional surface profilometry documented similar pre- and postoperative surface contour parameters, indicating that the skin surface texture is preserved after laser exposure. Ultrasonography revealed similar skin thicknesses in laser-exposed and untreated control areas. It is concluded that normal-mode ruby laser treatment is safe for hair removal in skin types I-IV.