July 11, 2007

Laser hair removal devices at home  

Laser hair removal devices at home

Professional laser hair removal is a $2.7 billion dollar business, and makers of home laser devices hope to tap into the market. In December, the FDA cleared a home device from Gillette, but the device won't be available this year.

"We are not going to launch something until we are 100% satisfied with everything about the device," says Kelly Vanasse, a spokeswoman for Gillette. "We're still working on it."

The concept behind laser hair removal is that light emitted from the device is absorbed by the dark pigment in the hair follicle. The energy is converted to heat, causing the hair to fall out in a couple of days. Repeated treatments are needed to target the hair follicles in their various stages of growth.

Some data suggest that the hair that grows back is lighter and finer, but it's not clear how often the hand-held device will have to be used.

Professional laser hair removal treatments can cost $300 or more per treatment (several are needed), but can eventually eliminate shaving.

A Pleasanton, Calif., company called SpectraGenics is already selling a home-use laser hair removal device outside the country. The company is seeking FDA clearance to sell the device in the United States, says Robert Grove, president of SpectraGenics.

"Laser hair removal in an office setting is an enormously successful enterprise," he says. "The convenience of doing laser hair removal at home we think will be of great interest."

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