Operators who use refrigerated air or cryogen spray cooling rather than contact cooling during laser hair removal procedures could be breathing in potentially dangerous carcinogens and toxins found in plume released during treatment, according to a recent Cutera-funded study.
The study’s lead author, dermatologist E. Victor Ross, M.D., says the finding, itself, wasn’t that surprising. Rather, it was the significance of the finding that got his attention.
Submicron nanoparticles released during laser hair removal have been shown to contain chemical compounds, including carcinogens and environmental toxins. To protect themselves from burning hair plume, laser operators should use smoke evacuators, respiratory protection and good ventilation, according to the paper.
This study examined the plume effect of using contact cooling, or sapphire skin cooling, during laser hair removal with Cutera’s excel HR device compared to cryogen skin cooling with GentleMax (Candela). The researchers didn’t use a smoke evacuator.
They applied a layer of clear aloe vera gel to the treatment area and set the sapphire window temperature to 4 degrees Celsius before using the laser. The researchers set the cryogen for 40 milliseconds (ms) of application, followed by a 20-ms delay before treating with the Candela laser.
They found post treatment perifollicular edema occurred with both devices. But as long as providers using the contact cooling device maintained contact and used aloe vera gel, no detectable plume escaped during treatment. That was in stark contrast to 72-fold increase in plume levels from baseline with the cryogen cooling device. The odor was also noticeably less with contact cooling, according to the study.