Body hair is a protection mechanism for the body against many things. But it appears in many places in the skin, often in unwanted places and can be an eyesore. Body hair removal is a routine process and must be done in regular intervals to ensure it does not grow in an unmanageable pattern again. Laser hair removal as a process is used when normal methods like shaving, tweezing or waxing do not give desired results.
What is Laser hair reduction?
It is a process by which unwanted hair is removed by exposure to pulses of laser light that destroy the hair follicle. The highly concentrated light is beamed into the hair follicles. The pigment in the follicles absorbs the light which then destroys the hair.
What are the common misconceptions?
Laser hair removal is not merely a cosmetic procedure. It has a medical nature and requires the dermatologist to be trained in performing the procedure. It also carries a substantial risk factor and it is better to approach this as a medical procedure done by trained technicians.
Who can get it done?
- Anyone with hair on unwanted areas and of any skin type.
- Patient with polycystic ovarian disease where waxing / plucking tend to darken / damage skin.
- Patient with ingrowths, which get worse with waxing.
- It can be done on males as well.
What are the precautions For Laser?
If you are opting for laser treatment plucking, waxing and electrolysis should not be done six weeks prior to the planned treatment date. The laser treatment works by targeting the hair roots, and waxing or plucking might remove them temporarily, making laser treatment ineffective.
Limiting exposure to the sun for a few weeks before and after treatment is a must because sun exposure might cause complications to arise after treatment.
How does the Laser Hair Removal Treatment work?
The laser hair removal is a non surgical skin treatment procedure that works by selective photothermolysis that is using a special wavelength of light and pulse duration to obtain optimal effect. The laser light is beamed on a particular target tissue without damage to the surrounding tissues. Laser targets melanin in the areas of the hair growth. The follicle is heated while the rest of the skin is safe. The dark matter called melanin absorbs the laser light with greater speed and intensity than the surrounding areas.
Where is laser effective?
The laser treatment focuses on many parts of the body and can effectively treat the back, chest, neck, shoulders and bikini area. But the most commonly treated area is the face, especially the upper lip and chin where mild hair growth is the most commonly visible.
What is laser treatment like?
Our hair removal system is among the newest most effective and safest of instruments available for the removal of unwanted hair anywhere on the body. This laser works by first seeking out pigment in the unwanted hair, and then vaporizing the hair shaft and root. Before your first treatment, we may perform a test spot in order to customize the treatment setting for your hair. You will then return in 2 weeks for your first treatment.
What to expect during the treatment?
- There may be pricking sensation on the skin where the laser is being done.
- It is a 3 step procedure which involves cleansing, shaving and scanning with laser .
- In a fraction of a second, all treated hair is burnt.
- It can last from few minutes to few hours depending in size of area to be treated. No hospital admission is required.
Cold compress will be applied once treatment is over. While the laser treatment is done, the hair will be trimmed to a few millimetres above the skin surface. Based on the skin colour and texture and also the hair colour and thickness, the type and intensity of the laser is varied. The patient is requested to wear protective eye gear and also a special cold gel or cooling device to protect the outer layers of the skin. Then the dermatologist or technician will direct a pulse to the area that must be treated and check for any reactions.
If the laser is at the accepted level, the beam is directed in the required places and the procedure is complete.
What you should know about laser hair reduction?
In spite of the elegance and safety of this instrument, patient should understand that one or more of the following may occur: –
- Regrowth of the hair in a few weeks to months: – After the first exposure to the laser, most of the hair in the treated area falls out only to regrow again in a few weeks to months. Some of the hair may not return for many months or may be permanently removed. However, this cannot be guarantee with just one treatment.
- The need for several treatments:- While up to 30% of laser-treated hair may not regrow after any one treatment, most patients find it necessary to have several treatments. The number of treatments necessary for satisfaction varies between 8-10 and depends on skin color, hair density, hormones, hair cycle etc. Darker skinned individuals may require more treatments. Treatments are performed every 4-6 weeks, or as advised by the doctor.
- Short term redness or irritation: – Following any hair removal treatment, there may be some irritation or redness at the site exposed to the laser. This lasts between few hours to a few days.
- A thin scab: – Some people, especially dark-skinned individuals, may develop a fine, thin scab that peels off in 4-7 days. This is because the laser beam is attracted to pigment found in both hair and darker skin.
- Extra skin pigmentation: – In some individuals, the treated area may temporarily darken for a period of time. These can be improved with appropriate treatment for pigmentation.
- Loss of skin pigment: – In rare instances, people who are prone to pigment loss after injury may also experience loss of skin pigment after laser hair removal.
- The treated areas may not be completely empty after completion of therapy. Some hair may remain but they will be lighter and finer in texture.
- Regrowth of hair after several months to years: – For most, permanent hair removal means that the hairs will never regrow. However, some patients will experience some hair regrowth at the treated site after several months to several years. This is because, despite of effective laser treatment, some hair has the ability to repair itself even after a long period to time.
- Inadequate removal: – No matter what type of laser is used, the patients who receive the best results have dark hair and fair skin. For some with fine or lighter hair our hair removal treatments may not result in adequate removal. It does not work on white, grey golden or fine hair. This may occur even with many treatments.
- If you have an underlying hormonal imbalance, you may need more sessions and / or medicines to correct the underlying problem.
What is the pre- treatment care?
- It is advisable to avoid treatment during pregnancy. However, it can be safely done during breastfeeding period.
- Do not get a tan prior to treatment.
- If you have had herpes (cold sores.), please let us know before treatment begins. You will have to take antiviral medication before treatment to prevent reactivation of the virus during treatment.
- If you have had a history of keloids, please let us know before treatment begins.
- If you are on any oral/topical medication for any illness please inform us prior to the laser treatment.
- If you have undergone any surgery, anti- aging procedure on the face prior to the treatment, please inform the doctor.
- Do not pluck any hairs to be treated prior to treatment. Avoid waxing and plucking of hair for 2 weeks. Avoid bleaching.
- You will need to purchase a topical anesthetic cream called Prilox/ Tetralid. Please apply this cream to the area to be treated at least 45 minutes before treatment.
- Please shave area to be treated the day of treatment. If you do not feel comfortable shaving the area, then we will do it.
What is the post- treatment care?
- You may place a bag of ice or frozen vegetables covered in wash cloth over the treated site.
- We will advise you a topical steroid / soothing cream if required which you may apply once per day to the site to reduce irritation.
- Face washes to be used and other creams to be used will be advised by the doctor. Face can be washed within an hour of treatment. Safe non irritant cosmetics can be used after an hour of treatment if one wants to.
- Shaving/clean ups/ facials/ peels etc. are to be avoided till the skin in the treated area is completely free of redness/irritation if any post laser.
- In between laser sessions you can wax, thread or shave if urgent. Else, it is recommended to let the hair grow till the next session is due. However, avoid any hair removal techniques 2 weeks before the next session.
- You will need to avoid getting a sun tan, and wear sun block.
- Should you have blistering, any other queries, please call the dermatology clinic
- Normal daily activities can be resumed immediately after treatment and no hospitalization is required.
Benefits of laser hair removal
- Laser hair removal is a non surgical treatment procedure there are no surgical scars.
- It has a long lasting effect.
- Does not leave razor bumps or other painful aftermaths if done properly, and is a good treatment for ingrowths and pseudifolliculitis.
More information on the procedure can be accessed at: http://skindoctorindia.com/procedures-and-treatments/lasers/hair-removal/
Dr. Rinky Kapoor of Mumbai India is an accomplished trichologist and dermatologist. She specialises in the treatment of the various skin ailments and also in corrective cosmetic surgeries. Dr. Kapoor is also the co founder of The Esthetic Clinic, located in Mumbai, India and she has worked as a part of leading hospitals in the country and has successfully performed many cosmetic surgeries and non surgical procedures.