Laser Hair Removal: A Complete Guide
Laser Hair Removal, a safe permanent solution to remove unwanted hair
What is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser Hair Removal is a medical procedure of removing unwanted hair from various parts of the body, the most common regions being face, hands, underarms, back, chest, and legs. A pulsating beam of laser light is exposed to the treated area. The light beam penetrates deep into the skin and due to its intense heat it destroys the individual hair follicles. Destruction of the hair follicles prevents further growth of hairs.
Laser Hair Removal is the most effective hair removal technique and from light-tone to dark-tone skin, the treatment works for all. Today, laser hair removal is widely practiced around the world. Recent developments in the laser technology have made it more popular among the common mass.
How does it work?
Prior to the treatment, the laser surgeon places protective eye shields over the eyes. It helps to prevent any injury or damage to the cornea or retinas. Then, they trim down hairs to a few millimetres, above the surface of the skin. For protecting the outer layers of skin, surgeons use a cooling device or apply some cold gel. Such measures account for more effectiveness of the laser process and allow easy penetration of laser light deep into the skin.
After providing proper precautions to the candidates, surgeons then initiate the treatment. They prefer using good quality lasers that emit low-energy laser beams. Low-energy light quickly adjusts to the colour of the skin and the colour, thickness, and location of hair to be removed. At first, they perform a test treatment in which they direct a test pulse light to the treatment region. Low-energy light beam passes through the skin and are absorbed by the pigment of a certain percentage of the actively grown hair follicles. Surgeons observe the area and ensure that the settings are accurate. They also look for adverse reactions, or side-effects of the test treatment.
And if the test is successful, laser doctors become sure of the adaptability of the candidate towards the laser process and finally begin the actual treatment. Now, they systematically direct the low-energy laser beam in a spot-by-spot manner to the targeted regions. Constant exposure of laser light disables the active hair follicles instantly and permanently. However, follicles in the dormant phases are not affected by the laser beam.
The treatment continues in this manner, until the desired results have been achieved. Once the process is completed, surgeons provide ice packs, cold water or anti-inflammatory creams to the candidates. It soothes the treated area and reduces discomfort (if any).
What are the different types of lasers?
There are mainly four different types of lasers- ND Yag, Alexandrite, Diode, and IPL
- ND Yag - Neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet has fast repetition rates and large coverage areas, which makes it ideal for covering larger body areas in a short period of time. With a wavelength of 1064nm and up to 10Hz of repetition rates, ND Yag woks faster than any other type of laser. Its pulse width is 10-50ms. It has a spot size of 1-5mm and fluence of 20-100. ND Yag is suitable for all skin types. However, it is less effective on white or light hairs and fine hairs.
- Alexandrite - With 755nm wavelength, Alexandrite laser has excellent skin penetration rate. It works extremely fast and is most suitable for treating larger areas of body. The laser also changes the skin pigment, i.e. it lightens or darkens the existing tones of skin. Most appropriate for white skin tones, it shows improved results on finer and thinner hairs. Candidates with white shin shade can look forward to alexandrite lasers. Those with darker skin tones must consider other options.
- Diode - Diode lasers have fast repetition rates and covers larger portions of body, at one go. It is safer and penetrates deeper into the skin layers, than other lasers. Diode lasers have longer wavelength, of 800-810nm, which makes it ideal for darker skin tones. Its spot size is 9mm, fluence of 10-40, pulse width of 5-30ms, and repetition rate of 1Hz. Although diode lasers have some pigment effects, such effects are transient. It is not a good option treating finer and thinner hairs. It works wonders for skin types 1 to 4, and is also effective for other skin.
- IPL - Intense pulse light hair removal aren’t actually lasers, however work in equivalent to modern laser technology. IPL is based on the concept of selective photothermolysis, and is more difficult to operate, than most laser devices. Using IPL requires specialised skills and experience.
A unique feature of IPL is that it can be customised according to the hair colour, skin colour, and depth of hairs. It works without hurting the neighbouring cells and tissues and is suitable for all skin types. People with darker skin colour and lighter hair colour are most suitable for IPL. It is safest and gives most improved results, after treatment. Those with blonde, white, or red hairs must never consider IPL for removing unwanted hairs.
Is laser hair removal permanent?
Yes, the treatment gives a permanent effect. After the completion of the first few sessions, candidates only get rid of the active hair follicles, as the treatment is ineffective for the dormant follicles. To remove the dormant hair follicles, candidates need to go for maintenance sessions after 3-4 months of first-time treatment. For more improved results and prevention of follicular growth, maintenance sessions after 8-9 months of initial treatment, is strongly recommended.
How many sessions are required for complete hair removal?
The number of sessions required for complete hair removal through lasers, depend on three factors:
- The area of body being treated - Smaller regions will of course demand lesser sessions than larger areas.
- Gender, Age, Hair Type and Hair Growth Pattern - It takes more time to remove hair in women than in men. Also, the age, and other hair genetic factors together determine the number of sessions required for permanent hair removal.
- Quality of Laser - Since good quality lasers are equipped with advanced technology, it requires lesser number of sessions.
On an average, 6-8 sessions are required for complete hair removal. Post that, maintenance sessions are mandatory for preventing further re-growth of hairs.
Is the laser treatment painful?
Irrespective of the type of lasers, most treatments are non-invasive, meaning there’s no pain and no recovery downtime. Candidates go through a comfortable experience. Those who have lesser tolerance to pain can feel slightly painful during the process. However, this pain is easily manageable. Surgeons provide tropical analgesics to the candidates, prior to the treatment. In this way, intolerant people also experience comfort and satisfaction during the treatment process.
How much does Laser Hair Removal cost?
The cost of laser hair removal depends on the area from where excess hairs are to be removed. The actual cost also depends on the size of hairs, complexity and other genetic factors like hair growth pattern, frequency, etc. Depending on the specific area, the cost can be anything from 1000 INR to 30,000 INR. The standard of the clinic, the quality of instruments and service will also determine the total cost of laser hair removal treatment.
Besides the above factors, cost varies according to the type of lasers used in the treatment. IPL is cheaper than Diode, however the latter is more effective. Laser treatments done under the supervision of dermatologists come at a higher cost than those which are just done by the technicians.
What are the factors to consider before choosing the right Laser Hair clinic?
Laser hair removal is a medical procedure. Therefore, candidates must be very careful while choosing the right place to remove unwanted hairs. Here are certain factors to consider for selecting the best laser hair removal clinic:
- Experience - Experience of the clinic tells a lot about its efficiency and skills. Clinics with experienced doctors are the best places to remove hairs with the laser technology. Candidates must look for clinics which has well-trained laser technicians and well-qualified dermatologists. It is because, in a particular hair removal treatment, doctors might suggest a combination of lasers, based on the status of treatment or any other factors. It has been seen that in different stages, combinations of ND Yag with Diode or IPL with Diode works wonders for candidates. So, it’s good to sit with the doctors and discuss the best possible treatment plan, and accordingly choose the right centre.
- Quality of Laser Machines - Centres with good quality and latest machines are way better than those sticking to the old technologies. Newer machines are more efficient and give faster results, in a short time. These are more cost-efficient, compared to the extremely cheaper ones which can potentially damage the skin and cause side-effects.
- Before and After Pictures - Credible and authentic clinics show the before and after pictures of the candidates. Here, the doctors prefer to show the reality rather than luring people with false promises. Prior to the treatment, they consult with the candidates and display a more realistic result.
- Professionalism & Service Quality - Clinics must be professional in approach. Prompt replies to queries, along with quick arrangement of appointments, bookings, and other resources should be done in the nook of time. The quality of service must be excellent. From the initial consultations to the maintenance sessions, centres should offer a hassle-free experience to the customers.
- Standard of Hygiene - Cleanliness and hygiene are equally important factors for choosing the best laser clinic. Centres must be well-cleaned on a regular basis. There should be state-of-the-art sanitation facilities along with other amenities. It should give a feel-good factor to the candidates.
- Cost - And finally, it’s all about the cost. Looking into all the above features, candidates must compare clinics based on the cost of complete treatment. Weighing the benefits against the cost of each clinic will show the right place to get rid of hairs through lasers.
Is it safe for pregnant candidates?
Pregnant women can also opt for the treatment, until they are in their third trimester, i.e. in the last three months of pregnancy. It is so because at the final stage of pregnancy, lasers might penetrate the womb and damage the foetus. Besides this, going for laser treatments during pregnancy can give rise to potential side-effects such as painful skin lesions, uneven re-growth of hairs, skin pigmentation, and critical burns.
Due to such consequences, most laser surgeons always insist on taking prior authorization from an obstetrician. Although laser can be safe for pregnant candidates, however, most experienced laser technicians ask to avoid such treatments, during any phase of pregnancy. They can’t rule out the occurrence of any complications, which might affect the health of the would-be mother or the foetus. Thus, pregnant women must stay away from laser treatments or anything of this kind, to avoid any complication in pregnancy.
When can the treatment be ineffective?
No doubt that laser hair removal procedures are very popular these days, here are some cases, when the treatment can be ineffective:
- Certain Types of Skin - Blonde, grey, and white hairs show no results to laser treatments. It is because melanin (pigment responsible for darker shades of hair) absorbs laser beam and delivers good results for dark-tone skins. Since lighter shades like blonde, grey and white lacks adequate amount of melanin, it does not allow skin to absorb laser light, and therefore shows no result of the laser treatment.
Again, dark skinned candidates suffer scars which happen from the laser beam. Therefore, lighter skin tone and darker hair tones are best suited for laser hair removal procedures.
- PCOs & Hormonal Imbalances - Women suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCO) have a natural tendency to grow more hairs on body. PCO mainly happens due to hormonal imbalances. Prior to the treatment, such candidates must first take proper medications and cure the imbalance. Only then, it will work.
- Paradoxical Growth of Hairs - Due to certain factors like obesity, PCO, diabetes, stress, and idiopathic hirsute; a few number of candidates witness stimulation of hair growth in the laser-treated areas. It’s a rare case wherein the region having inappropriate hard colour and thickness develops a tendency to go back to aggression, when treated with laser. Areas having light-hued or vellus hairs don’t respond to laser treatments.
Is it suitable for both Men and Women?
Laser procedures are suitable for both men and women. In fact, today more men are willing to undergo such processes and find-tune their looks and appeal. There’s an increasing demand for laser hair removal treatments, among men and women of the urban sector.
Which are the common areas for Laser Hair Removal in females?
- Face - Women just don’t like facial hairs. It disrupts their looks, brings down their personality, and gives an irritating feeling. Removing facial hair gives a smooth and flawless skin. Women increase their charm, beauty and personality. Talking about facial hairs, the most common regions are:
- Eyebrows - Shaping eyebrows on a regular basis in quite a hassle, especially when there’s a time constraint. Removing excess eyebrow hairs enable ladies to enjoy a fine eyebrow shape and line, without worrying about further growth.
- Cheeks - Many women happen to have hairs in their cheeks, which give a more masculine look. Hairs on the cheek also degrade the facial persona and makes women very awkward. After removing hairs, women get brighter and glowing cheeks.
- Upper Lips - Another cause of embarrassment for most women is the presence of hairs on their upper lips. It makes them look masculine, and decreases their confidence. Removing hairs from the upper lips enhances their facial look along with their confidence.
- Chin - Hairs on the chin is the hardest blow to a woman’s self-respect and reputation. With hairs on chin, there’s a natural feeling of discomfort. And after removing hairs from chin, women enhance their facial personality and self-respect. It also makes them more confident, than ever.
- Underarms - Underarm hairs are most disliked by women. It restricts their freedom to go sleeveless and makes them feel shy in public. Removing hairs from underarms enable ladies to wear their favourite attire without worrying about exposing their underarms.
- Full Arms - With hairs on full arms, women need to be more selective with their dresses. They just can’t wear any cuts and have to be extra careful as to not expose their arms in public places. After undergoing hair removal for full arms, women get more freedom and confidence to fit in any style and trend of dresses.
- Full Body - Hairs on entire body is the main cause of discomfort and irritation in most women. Eliminating unwanted hairs from body allows women to flaunt in their style and never worry about hair re-growth. They increase their confidence, enhance their personality, and get flawless skin.
- Bikini Region - The most private region of a woman’s body, presence of hairs in the bikini line is also not welcomed. Getting rid of bikini hairs improves the intimacy time and makes women happier.
- Legs - Most women have long beautiful legs, and if these are full of hairs, it reduces the charm, and appeal of a lady. Removing the leg hairs not only gives a perfect skin, but a flawless body.
Why are men more interested in hair removal treatments?
In today’s age and time, things have undergone drastic changes, and so have men. Modern men are changing their concepts and outlook towards life. Today, matching steps with women, they too are keen on availing hair removal treatments and enjoying its marvellous results. Here’s why:
- More Fashion Conscious - Just like women, men have also become more conscious about their fashion. They take style and trends more seriously, and don’t prefer to comprise their fashion. Besides fashion, men are also cautious about looks and appeal. They love to retain their youthful look and skin and to achieve this, are resorting to laser hair removal techniques.
- Nature/ Type of Job - Professions like acting, modelling, dancing, anchoring, and hosting demand certain physical attributes, one being flawless skin without any hairs. To meet such requirements and develop successful career, men are considering permanent hair removal solutions. And what’s better than laser? So, they are more interested in opting for laser hair removal treatments.
- Uncomfortable Feeling - Even without the need to express one’s fashion sense, or to sustain in certain industries, men by default feel very uncomfortable with excess amount of hairs on their body. As such, men have rough and dry skin, excess hairs make them more irritated. They sweat a lot, most men even smell; all of which accounts for an unpleasant experience. To ease this, men are looking forward to laser techniques and are choosing the best possible laser procedure to eliminate unwanted hairs.
- Shaping Beard - Beard has always been a strong identity of men. And contemporary men love flaunting their beards, in the best style. From shaping to trimming, men are extremely serious about their beard and they don’t want to compromise with their beard shapes.
The most common hair removal areas in men are:
- Back - Excess hairs present on men’s back cause itching, rashes, and other irritating sensations, especially in tropical climates. Back portions being the most hard-to-reach areas, men are considering shaving off back hairs with lasers. They too want flawless back skin, free of any hairs.
- Chest - Hairs present on the chest are another significant cause of discomfort, in most men. Chest hairs bring lot of sweat and make men feel more unpleasant, than ever. For a more soothing and comfortable lifestyle, men are gradually switching over to hair removal procedures and are considering laser, as their first choice.
- Full Legs - Presence of hairs on legs makes men look uglier. It reduces their personality and brings down their appeal, which further hits their confidence. To come out of societal embarrassments, men are also considering hair removal procedures for treating full legs.
- Full Arms - Arms of men are always full of hairs. To improve looks, enhance personality, and emerge as a confident man in today’s world, the men folk are also gearing up to treat hairs on full arms and eliminate them permanently.
How is Laser Hair Removal procedure beneficial than temporary techniques?
Compared to other conventional hair removal methods, laser is way advanced and offers the following benefits:
- Permanent Solution - Traditional hair removal techniques like waxing, shaving, or applying hair removal creams offer temporary solutions, meaning, hair starts growing after a certain period of time. As with lasers, the re-growth of hair is prevented. This gives a permanent solution to the woes of treating and managing unwanted hairs.
- Non-Invasiveness - Waxing is painful, shaving is prone to cuts, and hair removal creams develop infections. This clearly hints at the possible side-effects and irritation caused to people. Contrary to all these, laser technology happens to be non-invasive. There’s hardly any pain or discomfort during the procedure. Candidates have a comfortable experience and enjoy the treatment and of course its permanent results.
- Save Time & Effort - Going for a waxing, or planning a shaving session requires some recurring time and effort. People shave at least once or twice a week, wax at least a month, or apply creams every 15 days. This involves lot of time and effort, on a consistent basis. With lasers, things stand different- it’s only a one-time effort. Post laser treatment, candidates only need to go for maintenance sessions, which are hardly once in 8 to 9 months, precisely once a year. With this, people save lot of time and effort, on a regular basis.
- Cost-efficient in the Long Run - And saving time and effort also saves cost. Laser treatments are actually more cost-efficient in the long run. It has a one-time investment and then it’s all about the results. People save recurring expenses, and spend only once a lifetime, to get rid of hairs.
Q1. What is the recovery time for laser hair removal process?
A. Laser has no recovery time. Soon after treatment, candidates can return back to normal ways of life.
Q2. Are there any side-effects of laser treatment?
A. Well, as such there are no side effects. Scars or post-treatment spots, if any are easily cured by antiseptic creams and lotions, which are provided by the surgeons. Post treatment, dermatologists also look for presence of any side-effects and based on the health conditions, recommend suitable medications.
Q3. How to prepare for a laser treatment?
A. Candidates willing to opt for lasers must avoid plucking, waxing, or electrolysis for 6 weeks, prior to treatment. It is because the lasers target the hair roots, which are removed by these methods. Exposure to sun should also be prevented, during the 6-week period.
Q4. How to take proper care of treated regions?
A. After undergoing laser treatment, candidates must stay away from sunlight, at least for 6 weeks. Medications, if any, must be consumed as per prescription. If candidates observe or feel any unusual thing, they must immediately report to their clinic or dermatologist.
Q5. How safe is laser hair removal?
A. Being of advanced origin, laser hair removal techniques are safest and most effective. These are highly credible and authentic ways of removing unwanted hairs from body.