Laser hair removal is a treatment that offers the permanent reduction of hair from areas of the body. Whether underarms, legs, bikini area, back or chest; the treatment can reduce the appearance of unwanted hair. The cosmetic procedure involves using lasers or IPL (intense pulsed light) to damage hair follicles and disrupt the growth of hair right at the root.
Today, different clinics use multiple types of FDA-approved laser hair removal machines, including the Ruby, Diode, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) system and Alexandrite laser. Individuals use all of these systems to help deal with PCOS, menopause, ingrown hairs, and hirsutism (excessive hair growth).
There are a few differences between traditional lasers and the new IPL method. Lasers offer a pure beam with only one colour of light. IPL emits a range of lights and colours, only some of which are useful for hair removal, and the rest just heat the skin. A laser, however, directs the beam only at the pigment of the hair.
The IPL system is arguably more flexible than laser hair removal, as clinicians can set a wavelength to suit you. They can also tailor the energy level and exposure time to your unique needs. IPL covers a large area of skin in a brief amount of time, and results vary from person to person. Therefore, it is advisable to talk face-to-face with a clinician about which type of laser hair removal is right for you. This will ensure the best results.
Laser hair removal works by using powerful lasers or intense pulsed light to target both the melanin pigment and follicle of the hair to destroy it. Extremely high-powered beams of light convert to heat as they pass through the skin. Melanin in the hair follicle absorbs the heat. This heats up the root, and inhibits further growth by shrinking the follicle and damaging its ability to grow hair.
A common misconception is that the ‘zapped’ hair simply disappears, but new skin pushes out the dead hair as it forms. Further, not many people understand the reason why complete hair reduction requires multiple sessions. Laser hair removal only targets hairs in the anagen (growth) phase. Not all hair actively grows at all times. It requires repeat sessions to target all hairs as they come out of resting phase. On the plus side, even by the second treatment, some patches of hair will have stopped producing new hairs altogether.
The varieties of laser treatments on offer work differently, depending on the colour of skin and hair of the patient. Traditionally, people with dark, thick hair and light coloured skin tend to lead to the best results. Recent developments in laser hair removal technology mean that clinics can modify wavelengths to ensure results for all colours and types of hair and skin. Typically, body areas treated for between 6 to 12 session show up to a 90% reduction in hair growth. This can last for anywhere between 1 and 10 years. On top of hair reduction, other benefits include less ingrown hairs as the treatment encourages straight growth and smoother skin.
At a prior consultation, your clinician does a test patch to check how your skin and hair react. They ask you to prepare for your treatment session by avoiding tanning products and sun exposure in the weeks beforehand and shaving the day before.
At your treatment, the clinician prepares cooling gels, and may apply anaesthetic cream. They give safety glasses for you to wear that serve to protect your eyes from the bright light. The clinician uses the handheld device of the machine to direct the laser in the targeted area. While this happens, they may also spray a cooling agent onto your skin.
After the session, they may tell you to apply an antiseptic cream to help with the tender skin. It is also advisable to avoid direct sun exposure straight after your treatment, and also to apply a high factor sun cream in the weeks following. In addition, you can also use soothing lotions and cold compresses to aid any soreness that should subside after a few days.
According to the NHS, laser hair removal in the UK can cost anywhere from £40 to £400. This price is highly dependent on the area of skin being treated, and the number of sessions needed. Other circumstances such as the clinic location also effect price, as centres in cities tend to be pricier.
Similarly, The Harley Medical Group puts the price per treatment at £55, all the way up to £400 for a session on a larger area. Thankfully, many clinics offer discounts for subsequent bookings or even spread out payment plans are options to ensure laser hair removal is as affordable as possible for patients.
The benefits of laser hair removal include less ingrown hairs, clearer silky smooth skin, reduced hair and smaller pores. These effects can help to relieve symptoms such as excessive hair growth, which is often a concern for individuals dealing with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, menopause and hirsutism.
Other extraordinary positives of laser hair removal include the energy saved by not having to go through time-consuming shaving or waxing, and less of the redness, and ingrown hairs that these methods cause. Not to mention no more accidental nicks and razor burn.
The effects of laser hair removal are long term, with a minimum of 60% of hair gone for good, and the remaining hair appearing finer, lighter, and altogether more manageable. The procedure is almost guaranteed to work, as 80-95% of patients see a reduction in hair growth.
Firstly, yes! Clients see a minimum of 60% reduction, with the remaining hairs appearing finer and lighter. In addition, after a course of sessions, most people see up to 90% of their unwanted hair permanently removed.
The laser targets unwanted hair right at the root, permanently damaging the follicle to reduce and remove undesirable hair. The treatment offers permanent hair reduction, with the option of ‘top-up” sessions.
Care Quality Commission should regulate your laser specialist. Check the method used by your clinician is FDA-approved and the right type of treatment for the results you desire.
Laser treatment is safe for all skin types and colours. Your expert therapist will tailor the procedure to the individual needs of your skin. Many people get laser hair treatment to help with PCOS symptoms, menopause, or simply to make their daily grooming regime easier!
Getting your hair lasered is much less painful than waxing and is quicker too. Some compare the sensation to the flick of an elastic band snapping against your skin and a gentle warming feeling. Plus, therapists use cooling machines or gel to soothe the skin.
Some patients experience some short-term itching, swelling and redness. These effects can be easily reduced with a cooling lotion or ice pack. You can prevent further side effects by avoiding exposure to sunlight, using SPF and refraining from plucking, waxing or bleaching for two weeks leading up to a session.
In 2014, men made up 17% of all laser hair removal clientele, and this number has only increased. Predicted by end of 2017, over £1.6 billion will be spent on male grooming services alone, so there has never been a better time to start.
Treatments take on average 45 minutes, dependent on the size of the surface area being dealt with. Furthermore, some procedures may take as little time as 15 minutes, with larger areas taking over an hour to complete.
It depends on the size of the area being treated, but 6-8 treatments will ensure to target and reduce all unwanted hair.