How does laser hair removal work?
Hair grows in three distinct cycles. First, the active or growth cycle (Anagen); next, the dormant cycle (Catagen) and, finally, the fall-out or shedding cycle (Telogen). Laser Hair Removal is most effective during the growth cycle (Anagen) and these change every month on the face and every 6 weeks on the body.
The pigment in the hair follicle absorbs the laser light and converts the light to heat. The heat, in turn, damages the follicle and destroys its ability to re-grow. It is important to treat each follicle during the growth cycle for maximum hair reduction. The laser pulses for just a fraction of a second, heating the hair follicle and impairing its ability to re-grow.
Significantly less hair grows back with each treatment…ultimately resulting in your goal of permanent hair reduction. The number of treatments required varies from individual to individual.
Hair growth cycles differ on different parts of the body. Your skin and hair colour, coarseness of hair as well as age, metabolism and other individual factors influence hair growth rate. Our experienced staff will work with you in designing a schedule to optimize your results.
Is Laser Hair Removal permanent?
Clients can achieve anywhere from 80% to 90% hair reduction. These results will be influenced by certain conditions such as skin, hair colour and hormones.
Laser hair removal treatment permanently removes hair in follicles during the growth (Anagen) phase. At any time, about 85% of our hair is in the growth stage and will be removed by laser. During this stage, the hair is most receptive to laser because it is rich in protein, keratinized cells and melanin. The amount of time the hair follicle stays in the Anagen phase is determined by our genetic make-up.
A hair’s Anagen phase may last for several years, with Anagen hairs representing about 85% of our hair. At the conclusion of the Anagen phase, the follicle enters the Catagen or transition phase and then the Telogen or resting phase when the hair begins to shed while the follicle is stimulated to begin a new cycle. Hair is not susceptible to laser hair removal treatments during the transition and resting phases. The duration of these phases of hair growth varies from person to person and is affected by our basic genetic (DNA) make-up, age, health and gender. Different hair colour and follicle shape also affects the timings of these phases.
As hair follicles move back to the growth phase they become susceptible to laser treatment and can then be removed permanently, hence the need for follow up visits to treat the follicles that were not in the growth (Anagen) phase during earlier visits. Maintenance visits are also required to remove hair from new follicles that start to grow hair. This is why we recommend 2 to 3 Maintenance visits each year. Laser hair removal treatment is more effective with thick dark hair than it is with thin light hair.
How Many Treatments?
We recommend 8 – 12 treatments initially at 4- 6 week intervals to achieve 85- 95% hair reduction, and possibly minor maintenance every 4-6 month intervals until complete elimination is achieved.
Men usually require up to 12- 15 and sometimes up to 20 treatments due to the higher levels of the male hormone testosterone. Any remaining hair will be much lighter and softer and will be controlled by maintenance treatments every 4 months.
Does it hurt?
Laser treatment itself may cause a slight tingling sensation. Most clients tolerate the procedure well. Because some areas of the body are more sensitive than others, a topical anaesthesia should be applied. The numbing cream needs to be applied for at least 1 ¼ hour before the treatment. The Candela GentleLase therapeutic laser machines that we use have a dynamic cooling device. This cools the skin on by spraying a safe (inert) gas onto the skin to cool it, making the treatment more comfortable.
Are there any side effects?
In general, most procedures have a low risk of adverse side effects. Clients may experience possible redness/itchiness or mild swelling that may last between an hour up to 24 hrs.
Some clients do experience a slight pigment change in their skin colour. If this occurs, the skin typically returns to normal pigmentation in a few weeks. You may apply Vitamin E cream to the treated areas; it will help the fading process. All treatment results are individual.
Sometimes it cannot be helped; however it is generally not permanent and is more common in skin types 3 and above, more severe and long term side effects include:
• Scarring – though rare and more likely with darker skin types, it can occur with all skin types and especially if the required precautions (relating to sun exposure and some medicines) are not followed, before, during and after treatment.
• Hyper-pigmentation (darker skin) – is a possibility in 3% of cases and can occur because of inflammation caused by laser treatment and a brown mark arises that usually takes some months to fade with the assistance of lightening agents.
• Hypo-pigmentation (lighter skin) is a possibility in 3% of cases and can cause a loss of skin pigmentation in the treated area. This pigmentation usually returns but can take up to 12 months and in very rare cases can take so long that is considered permanent.
• Bacterial or viral infection – Any infection in a wound created by a laser has the potential for scarring and laser treatments have been known to trigger herpes simplex outbreaks.
How do I know if I am a suitable candidate for laser?
The ideal candidate for Laser Hair Removal is a person with light skin and dark hair and will receive the best results (up to 75% reduction after 6 to 8 treatments).
People with dark skin and dark hair can still be treated, but may need more treatments.
If your hair has colour and you have not had recent sun exposure (no sun/ fake tan on the area to be treated for 2-4 week prior to treatment) then you are a suitable candidate. If your hair is grey, red or blond or then you are probably not.
You may not be able to have laser if you are on certain photo-sensitive medications. The most common are Roaccutane and Retin A, these medications can cause pigmentation to occur during treatment. We recommend not starting laser hair removal treatment until at least 8 weeks after finalizing the course of your medications.
Children under 18 will require a presence of a parent on the first consultation or a signed written consent from a parent. Our therapists do sometimes need to refer clients to their General Medical Practitioner for assessment and when in doubt will not treat until a Medical Clearance is provided.
Is Laser Hair Removal treatment safe?
Laser treatments have been used for many years for a variety of medical and cosmetic procedures. CANDELA GentleLase , the most trusted name in the industry, has pioneered the development of some of the safest and most effective technologies and products available on the market today.
Pregnancy and Laser Hair Removal
Whilst Laser Hair Removal is considered safe during Pregnancy, at Lasethetics Laser Clinics we advise women against Laser Hair Removal during pregnancy and ask women receiving treatments to advise us if they are pregnant.
Our caution does not diminish or reduce the confidence we have in the safety and efficacy of Laser for Hair Removal and other treatments for some skin conditions, but is rather a precaution balanced on need and circumstances.
Many women experience hormonal hair growth during pregnancy, but this hormonal hair falls out later or can be treated after delivery of your baby. Whilst the hormonal hair associated with pregnancy may be embarrassing and there is a temptation to seek or apply treatment we advise against treatment and especially the alternatives to Laser such as cream depilatories that may contain chemicals that are known to cause harm to the baby you are carrying.
Most women find that the Hormonal hair growth exhibits only for a few months before falling out naturally, and nearly all report loss of that hair within a few months of delivery.
Laser VS Waxing/Shaving
Shaving causes shaving bumps, shaving rash and ingrown hairs. Other treatments such as depilatory cream can cause chemical burns, whilst waxing generally takes between 3-8 weeks to re-grow, although generally finer. 60% of people will suffer from terrible in-grown hair problem due to this method.
Unlike waxing, there is no need for long hair during laser hair removal treatment. Hair must be short for your laser treatment, about 1-2 days hair growth, 3mm max.
Laser hair removal is a much more cost effective solution. It’s worth mentioning that like most technology, Laser Hair Removal have advanced and improved over the past few years.
If you’ve had laser treatment in the past and were disappointed with the results, it’s worth trying again now, consider having a small area treated so you can assess the improvement in comfort and results.
Laser vs IPL
Although both IPL and Laser are light-based technologies, there are distinct differences between the two. Lasers use a single wavelength of coherent light while IPLs utilize various wavelengths of incoherent light.
Various wavelengths of light absorb into and effect different substances [chromophores] in our skin and body differently.The machine would have to suit their particular skin and hair type and tone as well as be suitable for treatment of that person’s particular condition such as hair removal or pigmentation treatment.
This means that two different people may respond to laser hair removal treatment on the same equipment completely differently. At Lasethetics Laser Clinics, we use Candela GentleLase (Alexandrite Laser). The Candela GentleLase has a longer wavelength (755nm), and high energy (100J/cm2) well suited to safe and effective Hair Removal.
The Candela GentleLase also has the largest spot size (18mm diameter), combining together characteristics that enable deeper penetration by laser energy of the targeted area and faster treatments than early forms of Laser hair Removal machines such as, Long Pulse Ruby, Diode Lasers, and Flash-lamp devices.
Laser Hair Removal for Darker Skin
If you have natural dark hair and dark skin you may benefit from laser treatment for hair removal, however additional treatments are usually required to achieve satisfactory results.