Excess body hair in areas such as chest, face, tummy and neck is frustrating and embarrassing. Hormonal imbalance is one of the most common causes of abnormal hair growth. Other reasons are birth control pills, obesity, heredity, pituitary tumors, menopause and congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Also, certain medications such as anabolic steroids, anti-seizure medicines lead to unwanted hair growth on the face and other body areas.
A few ways to dispose of excess body hair are waxing, shaving, electrolysis and tweezing. The result of these methods stays not more than a couple of weeks, and you need to repeat them at regular intervals. Also, they are time-consuming, tedious, expensive and painful. They may also cause bruising of skin, pimples, cuts, allergic rashes and patches. If you are tired, of these short-term hair removal methods consider laser hair removal. It is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures done today and works well for face, arms, chin and rest of the body parts. Laser hair removal is done by cosmetic surgeons to reduce unwanted hair with minimal risks. It is a comfortable, hassle-free process and the results are long-lasting.
What Is Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is a non-invasive method where highly concentrated light is beamed into the hair follicles. The light beam after passing through the skin is absorbed by the melanin pigments (pigments that give color to the hair) present in the hair shaft. The intense heat generated destroys hair follicles and inhibits the hair growth in future. Lasers selectively target coarse and dark hairs without damaging the surrounding skin. It is a simple process that does not require any recovery time, and the client may return to work immediately. Also, your skin becomes silkier and smoother.
Laser hair removal mostly opts for areas such as bikini line hair, female facial hair, chest hair and back hair.
This technique slows hair growth, but it does not guarantee permanent hair removal in one session. You may require periodic maintenance. For significant results or to completely dispose of unwanted hair, several sessions are needed as this technique affects only actively growing hair follicles.
Different Types Of Laser Hair Removal Techniques
Laser hair removal techniques are classified into five categories. They all are different but works on the same principle, i.e. converting the light beam into heat and damage the hair.
1. Ruby Laser Hair Removal- It is the first cosmetic laser hair removal method. The laser used here is of 694 wavelength that damages the hair follicles whereas the surrounding skin, tissues and other structures are safe. The result is longer. In case there is hair growth after the treatment new hair that grows is more delicate, patchier and thinner than the older one. In this method, the skin is continuously cooled with the built-in cooling system. In comparison to other hair removal system, it is less painful. It can also be used on small skin areas. The treatment time is longer but the result is better because of the slow laser repetition rate.
2. Alexandrite Laser Hair Removal- This method works the same way as Ruby Laser hair removal system. Here the wavelength used is 755 nm that is a part of the red infrared portion of the light spectrum. It is one of the fastest laser hair removal treatments available today. The penetration rate is excellent and can cover larger skin areas. This technique works great on the freckles or albino skin on which other laser hair removal systems have proved to be ineffective. Also, it is useful on olive and white tones with thinner hair types. However, the only drawback is that it is not applicable to dark skin as there is a chance that the skin pigment can change.
3. Diode Laser Hair Removal- Diode Laser is made up of semiconductors that are operating at the wavelength of 800 to 810nm. The laser provides deeper and safer penetration into the thick skin. It tends to cover the larger areas of the body faster. This method features longer wavelength, and so can be used on an individual with darker skin coupled with coarse and thick hair. This technique of laser hair removal is favourite among men as it effectively reduces chest and back hair.
4. Nd: YAG Laser Hair Removal- It is an advanced method of laser hair removal. It uses wavelengths of 1064nm and that too in a double frequency mode creating a green light at 532nm wavelengths. It can be useful in treating larger areas and has a fast rate of repetition. It is helpful for dark and Asian skin tones.
5. IPL Or Intense Pulse Light Laser Hair Removal- This method is a non-coherent laser. There is no set wavelength, and so it is flexible in comparison to other laser hair removal systems. In this method, personalized treatment is given, and the need of the client sets the treatment parameter. This method can cover larger skin areas. The risk of damaging the surrounding skin is less.
Causes/Reasons To Consider Laser Hair Removal
- The unwanted facial or body hair makes you self-conscious, and you lose your self-confidence.
- Unwanted hair limits you from wearing certain clothes.
- You are looking for better alternative to electrolysis shaving, bleaching and waxing.
- You want long-term hair removal results.
Good Candidates For Laser Hair Removal
- You have realistic expectations and knows that the results vary from person to person and according to the skin tone.
- You have a large treatment area. Laser hair removal is excellent for legs, arms, underarms and back. Eyebrows cannot be done.
- Clients with a dark skin tone may have a hard time getting hair removed. However, there are also modern laser hair removal methods that work on dark skin. Nd: YAG is most commonly used on darker skin tones.
- Dark and coarse hair is considered best for the treatment. Ideal candidates are with light skin and dark hair. This contrast makes targeting melanin easy.
- Lighter hair is difficult to treat. People with blonde and red hair are not considered ideal and may require more time, money and sessions. And even after the extra effort, there is no guarantee of satisfactory results.
- White and grey hairs are untreatable due to the absence of pigments.
- An individual with thin and fine hair may also not get the results they are hoping.
- An ideal candidate should have pain tolerance and can handle some discomfort. It is likely that people with very dark hair will experience stinging and burning sensation.
- If your skin is tanned, better wait for a few weeks until the tan is gone. Precautions Before Laser Hair Removal
To prepare yourself for laser hair removal, you need to follow specific instructions given by your surgeon:
- Avoid sun exposure, self-tanner, and lotions from one and a half month before the treatment. Wear sunscreen and cover your face and body with clothing before stepping out in the sun.
- If you have a darker skin tone, use bleaching cream before the treatment.
- Avoid electrolysis, waxing or plugging from 6 weeks before the procedure as in the absence of the target the efficacy of the laser treatment is reduced.
- Quit smoking six weeks before the procedure.
- Avoid taking blood-thinning medicines and herbs from 2 weeks before, the procedure.
- Keep yourself hydrated
- Do not apply makeup, deodorant, lotion creams or any other beauty products before heading for the treatment.
The procedure of laser hair removal is done on an outpatient basis. Just before the treatment, your hair is trimmed to a few millimetres above the surface of the skin. According to your skin colour, location, hair color, and thickness the laser equipment is adjusted. You and your technician are required to wear appropriate eye protection depending on the light source used. Before the treatment, a topical anesthetic gel is applied. Skin cooling gel or particular cooling device is used to protect your skin’s outer layer and to keep you comfortable during the process. Also, this helps in penetration of laser light. You may experience slight stinging pain during the procedure. The whole process takes not more than 15-30 minutes depending on the length of the area to be treated.
The procedure inclines to beam a highly focused light to the treatment area. The laser is absorbed by the pigment, and unwanted hair follicles are disabled. First, a test treatment is done. Here test pulse light of low energy is directed to the treatment area that passes through the skin and is absorbed by the pigment of a percentage of active hair growth follicles. After this, the treatment area is watched for several minutes to check for adverse reactions and to confirm that the best settings is used. If the test treatment is successful, the low-energy laser beam is systematically directed spot by spot to the treatment areas. Each beam of laser takes just a fraction of seconds to treat many hairs at the same time. Approximately every second a quarter size skin is treated. With each treatment, the active hair growing is disabled instantly. This treatment does not affect the hair follicle in a dormant phase. After the procedure is completed anti-inflammatory lotions and cream are given, or cold water is used to ease the discomfort. As the hair grows in the cycle, for significant hair reduction, 3-4 sessions are required. The next treatment is scheduled 4-6 weeks later. The sessions are continued until hair stops growing.
Precautions After Laser Hair Removal
- Do not wax or plug the treated area or you will disrupt the treating procedure.
- Once the redness subsides, exfoliate the area.
- For the first 48 hours after the laser hair removal, avoid the hot shower.
- Apply vitamin E to encourage the soothing of skin if pigmentation or discoloration happens.
- Avoid exposure to the sun for 2-4 weeks. Wear sunscreen before stepping out in the sun.
- Avoid makeup for 48 hours after the treatment. After 48 hours you may use mineral makeup but avoid other cosmetics until complete healing takes place.
- Avoid strenuous exercise or sauna for two days.
- Avoid deodorants for at least three days.
- Do not scratch the treated area or it may cause scarring.
Result/What to Expect
After the process is completed you may resume your everyday routine activities. Immediately after the treatment, you will experience a reduction in the number of hairs in the area treated. Also, your skin becomes smooth. However, for the first 1-2 days post-treatment, your skin may feel sunburned. Apply cold compress and moisturizer for your comfort. In 2-8 weeks you will experience hair growth in the treated area because now the dormant hair follicles have entered active growing phase. In most of the patients after an average 3-7 sessions, there is permanent hair loss.
1. Which is the ideal hair removal method for those who have hirsutism?
Hirsutism is excessive unwanted hair growth on face or body. Hormonal imbalance, PCOS, and menopause are most common causes of hirsutism in females. Laser hair removal is the ideal treatment to dispose of unwanted hair Consult an experienced cosmetic surgeon who can find the right laser for you according to your skin type.
2. How to chose the best cosmetic surgeon for laser hair removal?
Consult Dr Parag Telang. He is Mumbai’s most preferred board-certified cosmetic surgeon.
3. Does the cost of laser hair removal covered by insurance?
Laser hair removal is done solely for the aesthetic purpose, so insurance does not cover its cost.
4. What are the risks and complications associated with Laser hair removal?
Laser hair removal is a medical procedure and carries potential risks such as:
• Blisters are rare but may appear in people with a dark complexion.
• There may be temporary swelling, irritation and redness
• Changes in skin color or permanent scarring is rare.
• Increased hair growth
• Eye injury
5. Should I shave before Laser hair removal?
It is advised to shave a night before or in the morning before laser hair removal is to be done. Use a new razor. Shaving makes it easy to locate the hair follicles.
6. On what factors laser hair removal treatment interval depends?
In most of the cases the laser hair removal treatment interval varies from 4-8 weeks depending on:
• Client’s gender
• Hair type
• Hair growth pattern
• The body area to be treated
• The laser selected
7. What is the cost of laser hair removal?
The cost of laser hair removal depends on the size of the area that is to be treated, type of laser used, number of sessions required, your location and surgeon’s skill.