What Women Want: Some Smooth Talk Over Laser Hair Removal
Dr. Anjali Pal

Dr. Anjali Pal

May 22Hair and Skin Care

What Women Want: Some Smooth Talk Over Laser Hair Removal

This article was compiled by Alipta Jena.

Women generally desire smooth, hair-free skin without the bother of having to get rid of unwanted hair every now and then. However, the hassles of waxing, shaving, epilating and threading have proved to be a deterrent. Not to mention the pain that comes with some of these procedures.

Laser hair removal is a great procedure to have done, especially if you hate shaving and waxing like most men and women. However, it's not as simple as going in for a treatment and never having hair grow again. It often takes more than one session to completely remove hair.

To understand why more than one treatment is needed, you must first understand how laser hair removal works.

  • Laser is the light energy of a certain wavelength (it is not radiation) targeting a specific molecule in the tissues. In laser hair removal, the target is the melanosomes (pigment aggregates) in the root of the hair.
  • The light energy gets converted to heat energy which blasts the root, damaging it, leaving the surrounding skin intact.
  • Because the melanosomes (pigment cells) are so highly concentrated within the hair root as compared to the surrounding skin, it becomes targeted specifically.
  • Permanent reduction in hair density means some hairs will regrow after a single course of therapy and patients will need ongoing laser treatment.
  • The damage done to the hair follicle with one treatment is minimal. It usually takes at least six treatment sessions to remove hair and retard growth.

Types of laser hair removal

  • There are several laser technologies that work to remove (that is, around a 90% reduction in hair growth) hair permanently.
  • Laser hair removal is used more frequently nowadays to help remove hair long term. As the technology has improved, this service has become more moderately priced for the average citizen, and several different methods have been developed.
  • The technologies available are diode laser, alexandrite laser, Nd: YAG laser and intense pulsed light (IPL) technology.
  • Different laser technologies suit different skin types and different hair thickness. Your doctor may have one or a combination of these technologies. It is best to get it done by a qualified dermatologist.
  • They are all safe on the skin and there are no long-term consequences to the body, as this is a targeted light treatment and not radiation.
  • It targets the growing root of the hair, which is a focus rich in melanin.
  • The laser energy destroys the hair root, which grows back weaker and smaller every time, till it is permanently removed.

Things to keep in mind before laser hair removal

Your doctor may want to check first for underlying hormonal issues alongside, in the case of unusually thick facial or neck hair.

Conditions like PCOS could be responsible for this hair growth (aka hirsutism- excessive hair growth in a male pattern). It is important to address any hormonal imbalance that is causing this excessive hair growth as it will ensure that the laser treatment is effective and long-lasting. If underlying hormonal issues are not controlled, your laser treatment will be like a case of trying to fill a leaking bucket.

A few measures before going for laser hair removal

  • Stop using all active acne, anti-ageing and pigmentation products two days before your laser session.
  • Avoid swimming and exposure to UV rays a week before the session.
  • The area is ideally shaved by the laser personnel just prior to the treatment.
  • Do not tweeze, wax or pluck the area being treated between or prior to sessions.
  • The treatment area needs to be free from makeup, lotion, deodorant and sunscreen.

How long does laser hair removal take?

  • Laser hair removal gets to the root of the problem, literally. The laser will target the hair that is in its active growth stage.
  • You may find hair to appear finer and less noticeable after one treatment but a course of treatments is essential to see optimal results.
  • Laser hair removal is a long process that may run for 6-12 months for complete permanent hair removal. Sessions are usually done once a month.
  • If you are planning to start treatment, be sure to show your doctor your full hair growth. This is important, as expectations of treatment can be set from the beginning.
  • Waxing, bleaching, threading and plucking hair is a no-no for a month or so before your treatment - any procedure that removes the hair from the root (or bleaches the pigment from it) will render the laser light useless - there will be no target for the laser. In between sessions you can shave the hair off from the skin surface after consulting your doctor. This is allowed as the root is not disturbed.

In the case of hair in hormone-sensitive areas (chin, upper lip), there can be periods of growth later on, as in pregnancy or post-delivery, because of hormonal changes. Aside from clearer, smoother skin and permanent hair reduction, laser hair removal also boasts the benefits of helping to reduce ingrown hairs and less irritation of the skin.

Is laser hair removal painless?

It is painless and safe because it’s light energy of a certain wavelength (it is not radiation). It does not penetrate more than 3mm into the skin, so it does not harm your body.

The only precaution you do need to take is to protect the eyes from laser light, which is done in the clinic by the doctor.

What must I do after getting laser hair removal?

To avoid possible side effects, all patients need to protect their skin from the sun. After laser hair removal, you should:

  • Avoid direct sunlight from hitting your treated skin.
  • Follow your dermatologist’s after-care instructions.

Laser hair removal FAQs

Q. What are some common side effects of laser therapy?

A. Laser treatment is safe on the skin if correct parameters are used by a qualified doctor, and your skin has been assessed before treatment.

Q. How can I decide if a laser will be the right treatment for me?

A. Allow your dermatologist to guide you about whether laser treatment will suit you or not.

Q. Can lasers be useful for any other things apart from hair removal?

A. Laser hair removal may be a good solution for patients with recurrent problems due to ingrown hairs on the legs and in those with recurrent sweat gland infections in the underarms or groins (hidradenitis suppurativa). It can also help solve hyperpigmentation issues that occur due to the waxing of the skin in these areas.

Q. Can I undergo a laser for hair removal if I have tattoos in that area?

A. Let your doctor guide you regarding that.

Q. What skin products are safe to use after a laser treatment?

A. Ask your doctor about the skin products you may want to use immediately after a laser procedure.

You can greatly reduce the risk of possible side effects by having your treatment performed by a medical doctor who is extremely skilled in using lasers and has in-depth knowledge of the skin.

Disclaimer - This information is provided for educational purposes and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare practitioners before undertaking any changes in your diet or adding supplements.

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