Laser hair removal is a long-term treatment for the management of unwanted hair. It is usually a simple procedure with very few side effects; most patients would feel comfortable having the procedure on their lunch break and then returning to work.
Unlike other hair removal treatments the laser actively targets dark hair and destroys it at the bulb. There is no use of needles or electric currents so discomfort is minimal. The laser will only target dark hair so patients with blond, red or grey follicles cannot be treated successfully with this method.
How does the laser hair removal work?
The laser emits a powerful beam of light that passes harmlessly through the skin, and is absorbed by the hair follicle. By selectively absorbing the laser energy, the hair follicles are disabled, impairing their ability to grow hair. This is a safer, faster and more effective way to eliminate unwanted hair than traditional methods of depilation.
Laser hair reduction is most effective when the hair colour significantly darker then the skin colours.
What are the alternative treatments?
Over the years various methods have been used to remove unwanted hair including: shaving waxing, plucking and depilatory creams. These methods only remove the hair temporarily and some may be painful or cause inflammation of the hair follicle.
Electrolysis offers more long term hair removal, but takes months or years of treatment and innumerable sessions since it requires the placement of needles at each hair follicle. This process is tedious and impractical for large areas.
The advantages of laser hair reduction
Laser treatment provides long term hair management for both large and small areas without the difficulties or commitment involved with other methods. The laser is designed to selectively treat only the hair follicle, leaving the surrounding tissue unaffected. The laser uses pulses of light to remove the hair, so there is little irritation to the skin. Laser hair removal offers the following advantages:
- Fewer treatments required
- Suitable for large areas
- Accuracy (unlike Electrolysis, laser can’t miss the follicle)
- Non–invasive (no risk or needle transmitted disease)
Is laser hair reduction comfortable?
The treatment consists of a number of laser pulses accompanied by tingling or slight burning sensation. Anaesthetic cream may be applied to the area 30 mins prior to the treatment to ensure this sensation is minimal though not all people require it. Within about 30mins of the treatment, the area may become pink or red and feel like mild burning for a day or so.
How long does the treatment take?
The amount of time needed will depend on the number of areas to be treated and the size of the area. Your practitioner will advise you. The upper lip takes less than one minute but larger areas can take significantly longer.
How many treatments are required?
The laser works by affecting the hair follicle which is in the growing phase (anagen). At any time, some hair follicles are in the resting phase (telogen) and so won’t be treated by the laser. Therefore several visits may be necessary for total treatment.
Adverse reactions that may occur
- Changes in the skin colour. A temporary increase or decrease in skin colour may occur; this usually reverts to normal colour over weeks or occasionally months.
- Scaring is highly unusual but is a possibility with any laser system.
- Infections may occur if the skin is broken after treatment; a simple antiseptic cream is useful.
Before the treatment
- Do not wax pluck or bleach the hair to be treated.
- Shave or trim hair to the skin level. Do not shave on the day of treatment; generally 2-3 days prior to treatment is appropriate.
- Do not wear makeup, deodorant, sunscreen or moisturiser with sunscreen on the day of treatment, specifically to the area being treated.
After the treatment
- The area may be red up to 24hrs. Rarely, some people may develop blisters or scabbing. Cool packs may be soothing.
- Redness should settle by the next day. If required makeup may be applied on the same day.
- Do not use any irritating creams such as Glycolic acid or Retin A; also the Rationale Skin Refining serum or the DNA Night Cream as these products have similar ingredients and may irritate immediately after treatment.
- Avoid sun exposure and use 15+ at all times.
- Try to manage hair growth by shaving or trimming. You may notice that the hairs will fall out over the next week.
- If you are too uncomfortable with this regime you may wax the area 1 week after treatment.
- Do not wax or pluck within 5 weeks of each treatment.
The laser treatment is not removing hairs that are currently visible. It is destroying the follicles to prevent further hair growth. Some hairs may fall out after treatment but a number of treatments will be necessary before the full benefit becomes apparent.