About Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal, also known as light based hair removal and laser hair reduction.
Laser hair removal is a popular non-invasive procedure for the permanent removal or reduction of unwanted facial and body hair. The process works by exposing the unwanted areas of hair to highly concentrated pulses of laser light, destroying the root and follicle. After treatment, skin is usually smoother than with other hair-removal methods like waxing, razors or electrolysis. As there is little to no downtime and minimal discomfort during treatment, laser hair removal can be performed on large areas. Laser hair removal is one of the safest and most popular aesthetic procedures performed today.
How is it performed?
Any hair that is to be removed will be trimmed short and your practitioner will apply a special cold gel to your skin to protect it. This will also make the laser hair removal treatment more effective by helping the laser light to penetrate the skin.
Low energy lasers are the most popular choice for hair removal treatments as they can be adjusted to suit the colour, thickness and location of the hair that being removed. Your practitioner should perform a test on a small patch of your skin. This area is observed to ensure the settings are correct and to check for any adverse reactions you might experience.
If the test treatment is successful, your surgeon will then begin to systematically apply the laser beam to the areas you are having treated. This will eradicate any live hair follicles in the area, but any hair that is ‘dormant’ will not be affected. Once your treatment is finished, your practitioner may give you or direct you to apply some anti-inflammatory creams and a cold compress to soothe the treated areas.
It is normal for it to take between three to eight sessions before you attain the optimal results, but you should keep in mind that you may need ‘booster’ sessions in the future to maintain them. This will be particularly true if you have endogenous hormone secreting states or exogenous hormone use. The regularity of treatment you require to maintain results will depend largely upon:
- Your gender, age, hair type and hair growth pattern
- The body area being treated
- The laser device used
What are my options?
There are a large variety of low-energy laser devices available, all with their unique features and properties.
The following variables affect laser or device hair removal:
- Skin colour
- Hair colour and thickness
- Area of the body treated
- Device type
- Wavelength and fluence used
- Spot size and pulse width
- Skin temperature and cooling
- Treatment timing
What result can I expect?
Hair removal is a permanent treatment, although it will often take more than one session to produce these results. You should remember that it does not affect ‘dormant’ hair follicles, which may return later. For your safety, and to ensure you have the most beautiful outcome, you should return to your plastic surgeon’s office for follow up evaluation when required, or if you notice any changes in the treatment areas. Do not hesitate to contact your surgeon when you have any questions or concerns.
- Both large and small areas of the body are effectively treated
- May make skin colour and complexion more uniform
- Most patients have permanent hair loss after an average of 3 to 8 sessions
- Multiple treatments are usually required to produce satisfactory results
- Patients with darker skin may not respond well due to inadequate discrepancy between skin and hair colours
- Blonde or gray/white hair is less responsive due to lack of ample pigment in the hair
Your skin will appear smoother immediately after your first treatment and you should notice that there are visibly less hairs in the treated area. You might notice some minor irritation, redness or dryness in your skin after treatment but this should resolves itself fairly quickly. Your practitioner might advise you to use special skin care products or maintain a skin care routine for a period after the procedure. You should always wear sunscreen on any treated area that will be exposed, but if possible avoid exposure to direct sunlight for several days afterwards. Contact your surgeon if any redness or irritation persists.
Weeks two to eight
You might notice that there is an increase in hair growth after the first session and over the following weeks. This is because any dormant hair follicles that were not removed in the first treatment are ‘woken up’ and begin to grow. This is the primary reason that follow up treatments are advised. Make sure that you follow any instructions your surgeon gives you for taking care and maintaining your results.
You should remember that everyone’s physiology is unique and the amount of time it takes to recover will vary between individuals.
Limits & Risks
Fortunately, significant complications from laser hair removal are infrequent. Your specific risks for laser hair removal will be discussed during your consultation. All surgical procedures have some degree of risk.
Some potential complications of all surgeries are:
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Hematoma or seroma (an accumulation of blood or fluid under the skin that may require removal)
- Infection and bleeding
- Changes in sensation
- Allergic reactions
- Damage to underlying structures
- Unsatisfactory results that may necessitate additional procedures
- Blood clots in your legs or lungs