Laser Hair Removal: The Answers to Your Most Burning Questions
Shaving. Waxing. Plucking. There are so many ways to get rid of body hair but they're all time-consuming.
Women on average shave 12 times a month, averaging £7.95 every time. If you can reduce that or make it easier, will you?
If your answer is yes, laser hair removal is something you’d want to consider for your body. This high-tech process can destroy hair follicles, which reduces hair regrowth. If you like yourself fuzz-free, you need to understand how this method works.
In this guide, we’ll show you everything you need to know about laser hair removals.
What is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removals are dermatological medical procedures using a concentrated light to clear hair. It can take off unwanted hair on different parts of your body, which includes almost every part of your skin. This includes problem spots like:
- the armpits
- body and chest hair
- upper lip and chin
- neck and nape
- pubic hair and bikini area
- Legs (Daily Shaving is hard work!)
It is possible to handle hair in any part of the body except for the eyelids or surrounding areas. This is because it can do accidental damage to the retina because of strong, harsh light.
1. How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
During laser hair removal, a laser shoots off a beam of light that goes under absorption by melanin. Melanin, or dark pigments, convert the light energy to heat energy. This procedure, called selective photothermolysis, heats the stem cells within the hair follicles.
This entire procedure will heat up the follicle with the dark pigment. This is because of the colour difference between the skin’s melanin and the hair’s melanin. Dark objects will absorb the device’s light wavelength.
As laser hair removals operate on the colour of hair pigments, laser devices in the past have issues.
Some could not differentiate the pigment of skin and hair for people with darker skin. It’s also almost impossible for it to work on hair with very light pigmentation. This includes grey, white, and blonde hair.
Even then, newer technology in laser hair removals can do better now. Their performance with colour differentiation and even handling lighter pigments.
2. Three Types Of Lasers In Hair Removal
There are three types of lasers that aestheticians can use. These are diode lasers, alexandrite lasers and Nd:YAG lasers. Each one has a different advantage over the other.
Diode laser hair removal machines can provide consistent beams onto the skin. It can shoot an 810 nm laser wavelength, which is the gold standard. This has a medium pain scale. An Example is Soprano ICE or Lumenis Lightsheer
It is best for pale, Type 1 to medium colour type 3 skin on the Fitzpatrick scale.
Alexandrite lasers use a namesake gem to produce a long-pulse beam with a 755nm light. This 755nm wavelength works best for people with pale skin, even if it works for people of all skin types. It has the highest pain score of all the laser hair removal devices in this list.
The last is the Nd:YAG laser - neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet crystal. Much like the other crystals in this list, it’s usable for all skin types with its 1065nm wavelength. It’s best to use, however, for darker skin colours like a type 4 olive to type 6 dark.
Newer technology such as Splendor X are now able to combine both these type of lasers for the ultimate in hair removal. They allow both lasers to fire simultaneously to offer the best in hair removal. At Dr Aesthetica, we spent years looking at laser hair removal, with so many machines on the market, it was difficult to know what actually works on everyone. Sure, some lasers hair removals work, but they don't work for everyone. We often found clients would tell us that whilst they have treatments, the hair would get thinner, but as soon as they stopped, the hair came BACK. Others described how areas around treatment would often start sprouting hair.
3. There Is Some Pain in Laser Hair Removal
Many people ask about the possibility of pain from laser hair removals. Many of the stories online talk about how awful the pain is when you do these procedures. Sure, there is some pain, but it’s not so bad.
As the laser heats the hair, the pain is a quick and sharp sensation that goes away as quickly as you feel it. The pain is more prominent in areas with both darker skin and even thinner skin. This pain is more prominent in sensitive areas with more nerves like lips, temples, nose and chin.
Even then, this won’t be much of a problem. Many laser hair removal devices use a cooling mechanism. This blasts a swirl of cold air, helping with the pain and reduce the chances of aggravation.
There will be more pain when you have a higher temperature because of the heat. If you can try to cool yourself down, it helps.
At Dr Aesthetica, the Splendor X allows us to reduce the pain to a minimal level. Several things make this machine different, it uses a vacuum to remove hair with the laser, the use of direct cooler on to the skin to minimise any trauma. The Laser being so powerful that it only needs a fraction of a second to complete the treatment. The Splendor X has a square spot laser, so no overlap, no need to go over the same area several times.
With a circular-spot laser, this is hard to avoid and it takes an experienced clinician to deliver a pain-free treatment. But the square-spot laser that comes with Splendor X eliminates the risk of this. It makes it easier for a clinician to cover the whole treatment area without overlapping the laser.
4. What Are The Risks?
The laser affects many skin colours and skin types. There will be people who will have worse side effects than others.
First, you’ll notice some skin irritation in the treatment's area. That’s normal, considering you used a laser and heated the hair to its follicle. You will experience a few signs of discomfort and pain.
Expect to experience a level of temporary discomfort, together with some obvious redness. Some will even experience minor levels of swelling after laser hair removals. You can expect the swelling to go down within a few hours at most.
You can also experience some changes in the pigment of the affected area. You will see that the skin near the area that received the hair removal procedure will lighten or darken. This is temporary and will change as soon as go through your normal activities.
In rare cases, laser hair removals can cause more serious issues within some people. These include:
- blisters around the affected area
- crusty, dry skin
- mild burn scars
- textural changes in the skin
- greying of treated hair
- excess hair growth
Expect aestheticians and dermatologists to decline any request for work near the eyelids.
5. Some Prep You Need To Do
Shave, Not Wax or Pluck
It’s vital that you shave as much of your excess hair as possible. You want the entire treatment area to be clear of any long hairs. This can make the entire process faster and easier.
Any long hairs will be problematic and won’t react with the laser hair removal device. You would want to shave as close to the skin as you can to help work on the follicle. While the aesthetician can help handle shaving small, out of reach areas, they can’t do the entire shaving.
While shaving is a recommendation, plucking and waxing are not. Laser hair removal work by targeting pigments at the follicular level. You need to have hair for the entire procedure to work.
Every session will target specific hair follicles at different growth cycles. By tweezing or waxing, you’re leaving spots that will grow at different rates than treated hair.
Find a Licensed Doctor
Before doing sessions for laser hair removals, pick a doctor with the right training and feedback. You want them to have a good reputation and true understanding of the technology. We would advise anyone undertaking Laser to have completed a Level 4 In Laser Hair Removal.
At Dr Aesthetica, we want to discuss the positives and negatives of treatments. We advise all patients come in for a consultation and patch test to see the laser in action. We advise that whilst laser hair removal is often stated as you can expect 85% reduction in hair growth. To acheive this, we recommend 6 sessions. After this, you would need to do maintenance sessions to maintain being hair-free.
The doctor will do a few things to prep you for laser hair removals.
At Dr Aesthetica, we will review any medical history that you have. We will check if you have a history of allergies or skin disorders that will affect the procedure. We would also check for any signs of scarring and even removal procedures in the past.
Tell your practitioner about any medication you’re taking, too. Some medication will make your skin light-sensitive and cause burns. If you’re taking such medication, your doctor will ask you to wait.
Talk to them about what you expect out of the removal sessions. Many people think results will be instant, only to feel disappointment in knowing they’re not. It would be best to take before and after photos to see a clear difference and allow for comparative reviews.
You would want to discuss the entire treatment cost too.
Prevent Tanning and Excess Sun Exposure
Laser hair removals still work by heating up dark pigments. The treatment works best if there’s as big a difference as possible in pigmentation between your hair and skin. The perfect combination is darker hair and paler skin.
To help the treatment machine, you would want to prevent having your skin go darker. Avoid sun exposure and tanning up to around a month and a half before the treatment. Use a high-SPF sunscreen to protect your skin from any sunburns.
If you can, use skin bleaching creams to lighten your skin if you have a recent tan. Don’t use tanning lotions during the treatment period too. There are no diet changes you need for this treatment.
You need to make sure you take makeup off before you do the treatment. Anyone who will do the treatment for you will sterilise and clean the treated area, clean beforehand. Makeup can cause the laser to burn pigments and leave you with severe skin darkening.
Great NEWS for sunbed or those who are tanned: The Splendor X can be used on all skin types including tanned skin. The combination of lasers allows the machine to remove hair for all skin types.
6. During the Hair Removal Process
During the laser hair removal process itself, expect your medical professional to press a handheld laser. They will press it against your skin, extracting your unwanted hairs. This will come with a cooling mechanism that will try to suppress as much of the sharp pain as possible, which with the Splendor X is little to none.
Once your practitioner activates the laser, it will go through your skin and hit the hair at its deepest follicle. Expect the sharp, pinpoint pain with some discomfort. The cooling mechanism will also try to suppress the excess heat. This is typical of most machines, until now.
Depending on the treatment area, you will need anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. Many smaller areas like the lip or chin would need around 20 minutes. The armpits or the bikini area used to take at least an hour, this treatment would take around 15 minutes to complete.
7. After The Hair Removal Process
Once you finish the procedure, expect swelling and redness in the treated area. Laser hair removals will have these kinds of side effects. It’s best to treat these symptoms with an ice pack.
If there is any adverse reaction to the laser hair removals, your doctor will use anti-inflammatory creams. Once you finish the treatment, you need to avoid excess sun exposure for 6 weeks or as directed. Use sunscreen to prevent skin damage.
The area treated with laser hair removals will be extra sensitive during this period. A protective covering on the area can help.
8. Managing Expectations
Remember that hairs will not go away right after your laser hair removals. You can expect to shed them over a span of a few days to a couple of weeks.
You should understand that results vary from person to person. The variance can swing wild from case to case, from almost done to needing more sessions. This will depend on the thickness and hair quality that you have on the body part.
You can get effective results if you have thick, black hair with lighter skin. Even then, anyone can enjoy the full benefits of laser hair removals. You need to be patient about it.
Consider Getting Laser Hair Removal
When it comes to laser hair removal, you need to understand the entire procedure before doing it. Expect that the procedure won’t be easy, with its costs and prep work. Consult with a licensed doctor and see what they can advise you.
Are you looking for the right doctor who can help you look years younger? Want to take out that unwanted hair and feel the confidence in yourself?
Dr. Aesthetica can help you with you. Book with Dr Aesthetica today and get that look you’ve always wanted.