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|Laser Hair Removal|
Laser treatment for long-lasting hair removal
Laser hair removal gives a long-lasting reduction in the growth of facial and body hair, removing the need to rely on regular shaving, waxing, depilatory creams and electrolysis.
Albert Einstein initially came up with the concept that helped develop lasers in 1917. Laser light was initially used in dermatology and other medical procedures in the 1960’s, but these lasers were not appropriate for hair removal as they could not be accurately controlled to avoid damaging the skin. Over the next 30 years several attempts were made in the USA to produce an effective laser hair removal device. However, it wasn’t until 1995 that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved SoftLight™, the first laser for hair removal. By selectively heating the hair follicles, the laser causes sufficient damage to prevent subsequent growth. As laser technology has continued to improve over the years, so has the success and permanence of laser hair removal.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) hair removal systems, including Light Heat Energy (LHE) hair removal systems, are also used. These sources of light work in the same way as a laser but are not actually laser beams, which are much more concentrated.
Long-lasting (but not permanent) hair removal can be achieved with lasers, IPL and LHE machines. However, further courses of treatment may become necessary if hormonal changes prompt hair regrowth, or if hair follicles that were dormant at the time of treatment become active.
Is laser hair removal right for you?
If you have light skin and dark hair, you are an ideal candidate for laser hair removal. This is because the laser energy is absorbed more completely by darker pigment. Correspondingly, if you have dark skin and fair hair, laser hair removal will not be as effective. Tanned skin is, therefore, not ideal, and it would be best avoid sun exposure and wait until any tan has faded before undergoing treatment. Your suitability for the procedure will be discussed during your initial consultation with the practitioner.
“For some reason, I have always had unusually hairy forearms,” said one woman in her early thirties. “When I made the decision to remove some of it using laser treatment I was advised to wait until my summer tan had faded to ensure optimum results. And it worked – my forearms are normal at last!”
Undergoing the procedure
Safety glasses will need to be worn to protect your eyes from the laser light (not necessary for LHE systems). Using a small handheld device, the practitioner will administer the laser beam treatment. This will sting, so you may want to request a local anaesthetic cream to numb the area first, especially if you are having the treatment on a sensitive part of the body. Some laser devices simultaneously spray your skin to keep it cool and lessen the discomfort. Depending on the area being treated, each session can last from 15 minutes for the upper lip, to 45 minutes for the back or the legs. The number of treatment also varies from 6 - 10 based on the lightness of the skin.
For the initial couple of hours following the procedure, the treated area will look sore and feel warm. Some hairs will have been removed immediately, others will fall out over the following few days. Occasionally, especially if you have dark skin, blistering and crusting can occur. If your skin is particularly dark, the Nd-YAG laser may be most appropriate device to use for your treatment as it causes less skin damage.
As laser light can damage the skin’s pigment, it is possible that the treated area will become unusually pale or dark several months after treatment. This is one reason why it is advisable to test out the procedure on a small, unobtrusive area and wait 2 months for signs of discolouration before undergoing extensive treatment. Also, you should avoid sun exposure in the immediate period after your laser treatment as it can increase the risk of pigmentation problems.
As with all cosmetic procedures, it is essential to follow the advice of your practitioner. This will make the outcome as successful as possible and reduce the risk of complications.
Who should carry out your laser hair removal?
Laser treatment should only be administered by trained medical practitioners in clinics registered with the Healthcare Commission. You should also ensure that the practitioner you choose has the experience and the equipment needed to successfully treat your particular hair colour and pigmentation.
Typical costs for the treatment range from £40 per session for the upper lip to £400 per session for the front and back of the legs. The number of sessions necessary to complete the process will depend on your hair colour, skin type and the laser device being used.
Have your say!
If you've had experience with this procedure then why not leave a comment below and share your thoughts and advice with our readers.