Laser hair removal subject of physicist’s television appearance

A University of Windsor scientist will appear on Discovery Canada’s Daily Planet Thursday to explain the physics behind using lasers to remove tattoos and unwanted hair.

Physics professor Steven Rehse will be on the show using balloons and lasers to demonstrate the principles of a process called selective photothermolysis.

Using black balloons inflated inside of clear ones, he uses a laser to selectively explode the interior balloon without harming the one on the outside. The black balloons simulate hair follicles and skin cells embedded with ink, and the clear ones represent the surrounding skin.

“The key to this I that we choose the colour of the laser light to be just right,” said Dr. Rehse. “That’s the selective part of the procedure. If we can select our colour just right, the dark hair follicle, or the dark ink of the tattoo will absorb all that light, but the skin that’s it embedded in will be completely transparent, so all you’re going to do is target that follicle or the ink and there will be no damage to the surrounding tissue.”

“The ability to choose the colour of the laser to preferentially target tissues inside the skin is what makes the laser so useful and one of the most important tools in modern medicine,” he added.

This marks the second time that Rehse has been featured on the show. Earlier this year, he travelled to Toronto for a demonstration of his “fire tornado,” which was a featured attraction at last spring’s Science Rendezvous event.

"I think we've got a really strong relationship with the producers of the show now," Rehse added, "and appearing before a national audience can only help to elevate the reputation of the University and our Physics program - so I hope we get to return often."

Daily Planet appears on Discovery at 7 p.m. on channel 35 on Cogeco cable and channel 520 on Bell TV.

Get a preview of Rehse's presentation here:

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