Laser Hair Removal
If we’re not already having it done, most of us have wondered at some stage about laser hair removal. The thought of not having to shave or wax ever again is definitely appealing! We’ve compiled a list of the most common questions asked about Laser Hair Removal.
1. What are the different types of laser hair removal on the market today?
There are several different types of hair removal devices on the market. Some of them are: Nd: YAG, IPL (Intense Pulse Light), Diode, Alexandrite, Ruby Laser Hair Removal. You should note that IPL is generally not considered as effective for laser hair removal as it’s light is not dispersed in a concentrated beam like lasers and instead emit light in a more broad spectrum of wavelengths. However, IPL can be preferred for lighter skinned or lighter haired patients as it minimises their risk of burns and other side effects (see below).
2. Is laser hair removal painful?
It depend on your pain threshold! Laser hair removal is not usually described as painful, but more of a stinging sensation. It feels like a hot rubber band flicking on your skin and is considered completely tolerable by most patients. It’s said to become more comfortable with each treatment due to the hair becoming lighter and thinner. If you’re really worried about it you can ask for a numbing gel to put on your skin beforehand to make the treatment more bearable.
3. How exactly does laser hair removal work?
Laser energy emits a concentrated beam of light that gets absorbed by the melanin in your hairs. The light generates heat that travels down the hair into the hair follicle under the skin and permanently destroys its ability to grow hair. It does this without damaging any surrounding skin or tissue so is considered a safe and effective means of removing excessive or unwanted hair.
4. Are the results of laser hair removal permanent?
It is hard to give a general sweeping answer to this question as everyone is different and will see different results (different hair colour, thickness,etc.). However, it is generally agreed that you will need a course of approximately 3 – 8 treatments every month or two for the best results (your practitioner should discuss this with you at your first consult). Laser hair removal targets and destroys your hair follicles, however new follicles can grow in some patients so they will require maintenance treatments. Also, some follicles have more than one hair, so one of the hairs in that follicle will be removed instantly during a treatment however the other one might take a few days to fall off after the follicle is destroyed.
5. Is laser hair removal suitable for all hair and skin types?
While laser hair removal works on most skin types, lighter hair is generally considered harder to treat than darker hair. Skin is categorised into “types” according to the Fitzpatrick scale. Type 1 is very light-skinned, with Type VI being the darkest and all others between. There are different lasers available to treat different types of skin, so you might want to discuss with your practitioner what laser they are using. Your practitioner should analyse your hair, skin type and sensitivity during your consult – they often do a patch test first to make sure you are suitable and to tailor your treatment specifically to you.
6. Where can I have laser hair removal? Is it suitable for anywhere on the body?
Laser hair removal is suitable for most parts of your body. The one place it is definitely recommended you don’t get done is around your eyes (including your eyebrows) due to the high risk of eye damage from the laser. Laser hair removal is most popular for under your arms, your bikini line and legs.
7. How long does the actual laser hair removal procedure take?
It depends on how big or how many areas you are treating. A smaller area such as your underarms might take around 10 minutes, but a larger area such as your legs might take up to half an hour or more.
8. What are the risks with laser hair removal?
Some of the risks include burns, blistering, scarring, redness and swelling. As mentioned above there is also a risk of eye damage but both you and your practitioner should be wearing goggles designed to protect your eyes against that particular laser. All of these risks can be minimised and even eliminated with a qualified and experienced practitioner. The biggest mistake people make with laser hair removal is going to practitioners who don’t know what they’re doing. It’s important your practitioner uses the right laser and application for your particular skin type.
Your risks might also be increased if you are on particular medications. You should inform your practitioner of anything you might be taking so they can assess if it will affect the laser’s effectiveness (eg. some antibiotics can make your skin more sensitive to laser, etc.).
A good practitioner will prepare your skin before treatment and advise you of what steps to take after the treatment to minimise any adverse effects.