Tired of acne-like breakouts or razor bumps after removing unwanted hair?
If yes, laser hair removal can be an ideal option for you. Thanks to advancing technology, removing unwanted hair are much easier and safer.
It involves the use of the laser to destroy hair follicles, and you may need up to 6 sessions, or even more, based on your needs.
You may questions such as how it helps, its safety, and precautions to be taken.
This article details everything you need to know about laser hair removal.
So, let’s begin!
What is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal is a procedure that involves the use of laser light to remove unwanted hair. During this procedure, the beam of light is absorbed by the hair.
The light then gets converted to heat and damages your hair follicles. This damage inhibits or delays your hair growth.
So, multiple laser treatments might be needed for initial hair removal. Maintenance treatments are also required.
How does it Work?
Laser hair removal uses a heat laser beam, which is a mild form of radiation. Here the beam of light heats up, damaging your follicle.
Hair follicles are present below your skin and are accountable for producing new hair strands. As laser destroys hair follicles, it temporarily disables hair production.
Other hair removal treatment options, such as waxing and shaving, remove hair above the skin surface. These treatments thus fail to damage hair follicles and thus provide a short-term solution.
The areas that are most suitable for laser treatment are:
- Bikini line
Laser treatment is also seen to target hair melanin and thus works best for lighter skin tones with darker hair color. Even though some hair are not removed, they are lightened, which reduces their appearance on the skin.
You can expect the shedding of your hair during the first few days of the procedure. Smaller areas such as upper lips take only a few minutes, while larger areas such as chest may take a few hours.
All in all, the laser is a long-term and relatively quick process for hair removal.
Why Is It Done?
Basically, laser treatment is done to remove or reduce unwanted hair. This is possible in almost all locations, except for eyelids and skin with tattoos.
For the treatment to work, the pigment of hair should be able to absorb the light. So, the result depends on the color of hair and not of the skin.
However, the laser should damage the hair follicles and not skin, and thus the contrast of color between both has the best result.
Common reasons of laser hair removal are as below:
- Hypertrichosis: It is characterized by excess hair growth in normal female hair-bearing areas. Some causes include hormonal imbalance, malnutrition, medications, and metabolic problems.
- Hirsutism: Here, excess hair growth is present in a male-like pattern, such as the chest, face, and back. Hirsutism can be caused by hormonal disorders, heredity, and tumors.
Some social concerns related to excess hair can also be the reason of hair removal. Some of them are:
- Depression and low self-esteem
- Social embarrassment
- Career limitations
Are the Effects Permanent?
Well, the answer is “No.”
While laser hair removal is often advertised as being a permanent solution for hair removal, it can just delay hair growth for a longer period.
Laser treatment just puts the hair follicles into a dormant stage, which is much longer than waxing and shaving. The newer hair is finer, lighter, and fewer.
Further, despite the success rate of the laser treatment, the hair follicles heal, resulting in the production of new hair.
So, multiple treatments are required to stop new hairs from growing.
Laser hair removal has various benefits over traditional methods. Some of them are:
- Faster speed: Each ray of light takes just a fraction of second and cover many hairs at one go. Smaller areas such as upper lips take less than a minute to get rid of hair.
- Precision: The procedure can target coarse and dark hair without damaging the surrounding clean.
- Predictable: The majority of the individuals take about 3-7 sessions to get rid of unwanted hair.
It is also non-invasive and has a lesser cumulative treatment cost. It is also a painless hair removal method and is a great alternative to waxing.
Who is Eligible, and Who Is Not?
Eligibility criteria include:
- People with light skin and hair that is thick and dark. This is because laser treatment involves the melanin content of hair to work.
- Both men and women who want to get rid of excess hair on legs, hands, upper lip, underarms, and back.
Cases where laser treatment is not possible:
- Removal of eyelashes as the skin surrounding the eye is sensitive
- It is less effective for those with red, white, or blonde hair people. It is also less effective for those with dark skin.
Do You Need To Prepare Before A Laser Treatment?
Before initiating the laser treatment, your doctor will consult you and pick the best suitable option for you.
During the consultation, the doctor will ask your history, including any complaints or medication use. They might also ask you about the history of skin disorders in the past and if you underwent such hair removal procedures before.
Based on your history, the doctor will decide the best form of treatment. They will also discuss benefits, and to what extent this procedure will help you.
You will also be given some instructions to be followed. Some of them are:
- Staying away from the sun. You can use SPF30, broad-spectrum sunscreen.
- Avoiding any skin applications that may darken your skin.
- Using a bleaching cream if you have darker skin or got a recent tan.
- Avoiding removing hair by other methods, such as waxing and plucking, as they may disturb the hair follicles
- Shaving and trimming of the area a day before the procedure.
The doctor will also advise you to stop blood-thinning medications or anti-inflammatory medications.
What Happens During the Treatment?
Before the treatment, your hair will be trimmed. A numbing topical application will be applied on your skin almost 30 minutes before the procedure. It will prevent the sting of the laser beam.
Now, the laser beam will be adjusted according to the thickness, color, and location of the area to be treated.
Based on the type of light source and treatment type, you and the doctor will be wearing eye protection. To protect the outer layer of your skin, a cooling gel or device will be applied. It also helps the light to pass through your skin.
Now, the doctor or the technician will give a pulse of light to the decided area and observe it for a few minutes. It helps to know a bad reaction and if the settings were appropriate.
Once the procedure is done, you will be given anti-inflammatory creams, ice-packs, or cold water to manage the discomfort.
You will be called after six weeks for a follow-up. This continues until there is no hair left.
Follow-ups are required for optimal results. The number of sessions required for each individual varies and mainly consists of four to six sessions.
As there is a gap of about six weeks between each session, it may take about nine months for the complete treatment.
You may notice a few hairs after every session. Hair that regenerates or remains will be lighter in color and texture.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, hair growth reduces by 10% – 25% as compared to the initial session. The rate further improves but differs for everyone.
Further, you may need maintenance sessions that prevent the regeneration of hair follicles. Based on your needs, it would be between 1-2 sessions in a year.
The time taken for these sessions is similar to that of the initial sessions. However, if you are just touching up, lesser time will be required.
So, the time depends on the area of treatment and hair growth.
What Can You Expect?
Hair will not fall out immediately, but they will be shed gradually over a few weeks. So, it may look like the hair is growing continuously.
Besides, the laser procedure works better when hair follicles are in the growth stage. Repeated treatments might thus be necessary as the hair is lost and grown in cycles.
Results are different for everyone and may be difficult to predict. For some, the hair loss persists for several months, while for others, it lasts for years.
But, laser treatment doesn’t provide permanent hair removal. The newer hair will be lighter and finer.
Risks Associated With Laser Treatment
Laser treatment risks depend on the skin color, type, treatment type, and adherence to follow-up plan. While there can be various risks associated with laser treatment, some common ones include:
- Pigment changes: The procedure may darken or lighten the skin. The skin lightening effect is commonly seen if you fail to avoid the sun before or after the treatment. It is also seen in people who have darker skin.
- Skin irritation: Temporary redness, discomfort, and swelling can be present after the laser treatment. Any symptoms of skin irritation will settle within a few hours.
Some other risks are:
- Changes in skin texture
- Excessive hair growth
- Graying of hair
Laser hair removal is avoided for eyebrows, eyelids, and their surrounding areas to prevent eye injury.
If your skin feels sunburned, moisturizers and compresses may help. You can even wear make-up on face, in case the face was treated, unless your skin is blistering.
Wearing sunscreen for a month after the treatment aids in preventing skin color changes.
How Much Does it Cost?
The price in India ranges from Rs. 15,000 – Rs. 30, 000 and depends on:
- Area and size where you take laser treatment
- City and clinic where you get the treatment done
- Number of treatment sessions required
Some Important Points to Remember
Here are some important points that you should consider before getting a laser hair removal treatment done:
- It is a procedure that needs skill and training as it may have side-effects if not carried out properly.
- Your doctor will evaluate you for an underlying disorder that may be possible for excess hair growth.
- Treating the underlying condition is necessary to achieve optimal effects.
- You will have to avoid traditional hair removal methods, such as waxing, for a month before you decide to undergo this procedure.
- You might need 4-8 sessions, or even more, for best results
- Follow-up sessions might be required after six weeks
- Laser treatment will not be able to provide you complete hair removal. The new hair in the treated area is finer and lighter.
- Regrowth of hair in the treated area is also delayed.
- About 2-3 maintenance sessions might be needed in a year for optimal results.
- It is not possible to manage white hair with laser treatment.
- Inappropriate duration and dose of laser treatment might result in hair growth, where longer and thinner hair starts growing in those areas.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How long does it take to recover from the procedure?
The laser hair treatment procedure is safe and has very few side-effects. The recovery process is thus quick. For some individuals, it is 2-3 days, while for others, it would be around 2-3 weeks.
- Are the results of the laser hair treatment permanent?
The result of the treatment is different for everyone. It depends on your needs and the area to be treated. It is seen that adherence to instructions given by your doctor and taking regular maintenance sessions aid in longer and better results.
- Are there any special precautions to be taken after the treatment?
You may notice swelling and redness of the skin after the procedure. Your doctor might suggest anti-inflammatory lotion, cream, or a steroid ointment to manage them. Other precautions include:
- Using ice-pack over the affected area to manage the swelling
- Avoid going out in the sun as it may increase inflammation and sensitivity of the skin
Besides, hair may fall off the treated area over a period of 2-3 weeks after the treatment.
- What are some alternatives to this treatment procedure?
Some alternatives include:
- Electrolysis: Here, the hair is removed using an electric gadget. While this procedure offers hair removal for an extensive time period, it is time-consuming.
- Sugar Waxing: It is an alternative to waxing and involves the use of hard wax or honey. It has little or no side-effects.
- Is it a painful procedure?
No. Rather it is a painless hair removal option. With the latest technology, effective cooling is offered that protects the skin and make the procedure pain-free and comfortable.
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