Hair follicle changes following intense pulsed light axillary hair reduction: histometrical, histological and immunohistochemical evaluation

Arch Dermatol Res. 2017 Apr;309(3):191-202. doi: 10.1007/s00403-017-1714-7. Epub 2017 Feb 22.


Intense pulsed light (IPL) has been used for years in hair reduction; however, no previous studies discussed quantitative histological and immunohistochemical changes of hair follicles after IPL. Accordingly, this study aims to objectively quantify histological and immunohistochemical changes of hair follicles after IPL hair reduction. Right axillae of 21 volunteers were subjected to 6 IPL sessions using Quanta system IPL and evaluated at 1 week and 1 month after last session (i.e., 3 and 4 months from the start of treatment, respectively) in comparison to baseline and left control axillae. Using hair count, histological and immunohistochemical assessment of vertical and serial transverse sections coupled with computerized morphometric analysis, determination of hair reduction percentage, measurement of hair shaft (HS) diameter, calculation of percentage of hair follicle types and quantitative evaluation of PCNA, Ki67 and P53 markers were performed. After IPL, there was significant decrease of hair count, HS diameter, percentage of terminal anagen follicles, terminal/vellus (T/V) ratio, anagen/telogen (A/T) ratio and expression of PCNA and Ki67; however, significant increase of percentage of terminal telogen and total vellus follicles with vellus-like type and P53 expression was identified. So, reduction of hair number and thickness occurred after IPL by induction of telogenesis and miniaturization through decreased hair follicle proliferation and increase in DNA damage that could favor apoptosis.

Keywords: Hair reduction; Intense pulsed light; Ki67; P53; PCNA; Proliferation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Hair Follicle / physiopathology*
  • Hair Removal / methods*
  • Humans
  • Ki-67 Antigen / metabolism*
  • Light
  • Phototherapy / methods*
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen / metabolism*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53