Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Which patients can be treated?
A. Black hairs are most easily treated due to the large concentration of melanin
in these hairs, which gives an optimal absorption and conversion of light
energy to heat. Fair hairs have less melanin and consequently less heat is
produced with less certainty of permanent destruction of the hair follicles.
Grey (white) and red hairs have no or very low content of melanin, and cannot
be efficiently treated.
The upper skin layer, the epidermis, also contains
melanin and the concentration increases when the skin is exposed to UV-light.
It is therefore necessary to treat dark-skinned and tanned individuals with
less energy to avoid generation of heat (pain and/or burns). The ideal patient
is fair skinned with dark hairs, but the Ellipse computer has pre-programmed
treatment suggestions for different hair and pigment types.
Q. Does the patient need to shave prior to treatment?
A It is better if the patient arrives with the areas to be treated
unshaved. The hairs need to be at least 1mm long to be seen clearly. This enables
the area needing treatment to be marked out, using a red pen. The area to be treated
should then be shaved before starting treatment, to ensure best results. Remove the
shaved hairs from the skin to ensure that they do not stick to the applicator.
Q. Why do I need to use a red pen?
A. The dye used in red ink will not absorb the light. For other colours of pens,
there is a risk that light will be absorbed by the dye and cause burns to the skin.
Q. What is the clinical endpoint when doing hair removal treatments?
A. Perifollicular erythema and oedema are generally observed in patients with
fair skin (Fitzpatrick I – III). For darker patients, wait at least 15 minutes to see
how the skin reacts. It may turn darker around the follicles rather than red. If no
skin reaction is observed carefully increase the energy until a skin reaction is seen
or until the patient finds the pain unacceptable. Remember that the pain threshold
varies between patients. However, many patients have successful treatment results without
these post treatment signs.
Q. How many treatments are needed for permanent hair removal?
A. No-one can guarantee permanent removal of all hairs. It is possible to remove
the hairs, but not the reason that hairs grow. It is better to think of hair reduction
(hair management) than hair removal. Only hairs in the growing phase can be treated,
successfully with Ellipse. The length and timing of the growth cycles are affected by
numerous factors such as body site, hair density, thickness, ethnic origin, hormonal
level and age. Usually 3 – 6 treatments are needed and the intervals between treatments
are typically 1 – 3 months.
Q. Is permanent hair removal possible?
A. Nobody knows for sure. Hair management and hair reduction are increasingly
the terms used. After the first treatment most patients get significant reduction in
hair density. Hairs which re-grow tend to become finer and lighter in colour. It is
important to know and to inform patients that the first treatment is believed to
synchronise the growth phase of the non-growing hairs. This causes what seems to be
re-growth – but what happens is that the remaining “resting” hairs start growing
at the same time.
Q. Why do hairs appear to grow after the treatment?
A. Unlike laser treatment, hairs are not evaporated during Ellipse treatments.
The hair follicles are destroyed but the hairs remain in the follicles and are often
attached to the epidermis. They will fall out after 1-3 weeks as the epidermis is
renewed. During this period it will seem that the hairs are growing as the epidermis
pulls them out. It is possible to show that the hair will fall out, by easily lifting
it out with tweezers. This is important information to your patients, and they
should be advised not to expect an instantaneous result.
Q. Is any post treatment care necessary?
A. Generally the answer is "no". Patients with sensitive skin may benefit
from a single application of glucocorticoid cream immediately after treatment
and antiseptic cream (chlorhexidine 1%) for a few days.
Q. Can patients suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome be treated?
A. Yes they can, but they need more treatments – up to 20 due to the hormonal levels.
Q. Can patients suffering from Vitiligo be treated?
A. Yes, they can. However, in some cases the de-pigmentation occurs both in the skin
and in the hairs. If the hairs contain no melanin, they cannot be permanently removed.
Q. Why does Ellipse appears to work slower after long treatments?
A. After 400 – 600 shots the repetition rate is slightly slower as the flash lamp needs
longer time to cool down between each shot.
Q. Is hair removal possible if the client is pregnant?
A. If a client is pregnant, it is suggested that she waits until 2-3 months after she
has given birth to begin treatment. At this time hair growth is synchronised, which means
that she has an increased number of visible hairs, making the treatment much more effective.
Q. Is it possible to remove male back hair?
A. It is possible to remove the hair, but not the reason that future hair will grow.
High testosterone levels mean that many men will continue to form new hair until their
late thirties. This may result in new hair appearing after treatment. Consider hair management
to remove the existing hair on a regular basis.
Q. Why is gel used?
A. A thin layer of gel is applied to the skin prior to treatment to ensure the best
possible transmission of light from the applicator to the skin. To remove bubbles in the gel
the applicator is moved back and forth a few times in the gel before the treatment is started.
Q. Is it necessary to cool the gel?
A. It is recommended to keep the gel at room temperature as cold gel applied to the skin
will result in a contraction of vessels and produce inferior results.
Q. Is it possible to do tattoo removal using Ellipse?
A. No, it is not possible, as the flash-lamp cannot last if it was to produce the very
short pulses that tattoo removal requires.
Q. Why do some patients get a hyper-pigmentation?
A. Hyper-pigmentation is not a common side effect, but has been observed. It can be striped
(if a build-up of gel is allowed) or will follow the shape of the applicator, or that part
of the applicator in touch with the skin (both of these tend to be rectangular).
If too aggressive energy settings are used – especially in the forehead and on the jaw line,
hyper-pigmentation may occur lasting around one month.
Less commonly hyper-pigmentation can occur following treatment with a dirty applicator
that may have hairs, gel and dust stuck on the glass prism.
Hyper-pigmentation can also occur if adequate sun-protection (SPF 60) is not used
30 days after treatment.
Q. Is it possible to treat patients suffering from psoriasis?
A. Ellipse cannot treat psoriasis, but the light has a healing effect on the
plaques, so it is not dangerous to treat over it. Beware of the stronger absorption
by haemoglobin if the plaques are red in colour.
Q. Is it safe to perform Ellipse treatment in patients with thyroid problems?
A. Yes, treatment is safe provided that patients are not on medication where
photosensitivity is contraindicated.
Q. Can Ellipse treat cicatrices and striae?
A. The light has a beneficial effect in all red cicatrices thanks to the increased
absorption by haemoglobin. Same technique applies for striae.
Q. Can patients taking isotretinoin tablets be treated?
A. Isotretinoin (in most countries branded Accutane) is used for treatment of acne.
It can slow down the wound healing process. Experts agree that although there is little
or no risk, treatment should be postponed until minimum three months after discontinuation
Q. Can patients on anti-coagulants be treated?
A. For treatments that have oxy-haemoglobin and haemoglobin as a target chromophores
(vascular lesions and photo rejuvenation) anti-coagulants are contraindicated as the risk
of purpura is increased.
Photo Rejuvenation (treatment of sun-damaged skin)
Q. Which conditions can be treated?
A. The Ellipse photo rejuvenation is indicated for treatment of sun-damaged
skin to reduce pigment and vascular disturbances, and to improve skin texture. The
following conditions are treatable:
Superficial pigmented lesions (ephelides,
solar lentigines, epidermal melasma)
Poikiloderma of Civatte
Facial treatments are most popular, but all parts of the body can be treated.
Q. Are there any particular conditions that I should be aware of?
A. Pigment in the skin (and in Asian skin, the possibility of hidden melasma)
should always be investigated using a Woods Lamp (ultra-violet light source) to
distinguish between epidermal and dermal problems.
Q. Who can be treated?
A. As treatment is based on light absorption in melanin and in haemoglobin,
treatments are most efficient in persons with light skin, who are not sun-tanned at
the time of the treatment. The unique Ellipse software is pre-programmed for different
skin colours and adjusts the energy output to match the requirements of your patients’ skin.
Q. Is any pre-treatment necessary?
A. The patients must refrain from tanning (sun, solarium and self-tanning creams)
for at least four weeks before the treatment. Inform your patients about chronic sun
damage and how to protect themselves in the future with clothes, hats, and the use
of strong sunscreens (SPF 60+) and with filters effective in both the UVA and UVB range.
For Fitzpatrick skin types IV - V, the following may be applied:
One month of pre-treatment with a depigmenting cream should be considered. If used, suggestions
for treatment are:
“Kligman’s Formula” (tretinoin, dexamethasone and hydroquinone)
Alpha hydroxide acid (AHA) and Eldoquin 4% cream
for max. six weeks should be used together with the recommended sunscreen (normally min.
SPF 60+ e.g. photo-protection 100).
This cream should be discontinued one week before treatment to avoid any erythematous
reaction from the creams, which may result in increased light absorption in haemoglobin.
Q. What is the clinical endpoint when performing photo rejuvenation treatments?
A. For rejuvenation:
The sign of a successful treatment is darkening of the solar lentigines after approximately
10 minutes. Normal skin will become erythematic following a treatment.
For facial telangiectasias:
A coagulation of the vessels that will turn bluish a few seconds after the shot.
Q. Is any post-treatment necessary?
A. For patients who have been treated for facial telangiectasias, you may apply a single
application of topical glucocorticosteroid e.g. clobetasol dipropionate ointment or give them an ice
pack for enhanced comfort.
To avoid pigmentation changes after the treatment, the treatment area should not be exposed to
sunlight for 1-2 months and a SPF 60 should be used for a few weeks.
For darker skin types (Fitzpatrick IV to V) you may consider:
From the day after treatment consider prescription of a depigmenting cream (e.g. hydroquinone 4%,
or Kojic acid cream) in order to control melanin formation during the first three months
after the treatment. This treatment might need to be extended further.
If medium potency steroid cream is used for 2-3 days, start the depigmenting cream
immediately after discontinuing the steroid cream.
From the third day after treatment use three weeks of “Kligman’s Formula” or AHA +
Eldoquin 4% cream or Kojic acid depending on the basic problem.
After three weeks continue on AHA + Eldoquin 4% cream or Tretinoin + Eldoquin.
In case additional Ellipse photo rejuvenation treatments have been scheduled,
discontinue the above depigmenting creams seven days before the treatment.
Q. Why does pigment sometimes get worse after a treatment?
A. The light can effectively eliminate epidermal pigment, but it does not
have enough energy to perform treatments of dermal pigment. However, the light is
still stimulating the dermal pigment and therefore the melanocytes can be provoked
and create more pigment. It is therefore essential that the patients have no hidden
pigment in the dermal layer such as melasma which could get worse if treated without
our recommended pre-treatment regimen.
Q. Are there any side effects?
A. Slight erythema is observed and will disappear after a few days without
additional treatment. Cooling the skin with an ice pack may be comforting for the
patient. The pigmented areas will become darker around three days after the treatment.
It gives a “dirty look” which will persist for 7 – 10 days after treatment. It can
be covered with make-up.