What is LASER?
The word LASER stands for Light Amplification (by) Stimulated Emission (of) Radiation. Simply speaking, LASERS are special form of light that contains one color or wavelength.
What is LASER Hair Reduction?
LASER hair reduction is a process of reducing unwanted hair with the help of laser light. A beam of LASER light is aimed at hair follicle. This light is absorbed by the pigment, Melanin (present in hair roots)which destroys the hair folliclesand retards the future growth.
Is it only reduction not removal?
The actual term is LASER hair reduction. Reduction occurs in terms of number of hairs, thickness of hair and the rate of growth of hairs. Though after completion of treatment,few maintenance sessions can keep you free of hairs, complete removal usually does not happen. The number of maintenance sessions needed varies from one area of body to another. Hormone dependent growth like female facial hairs, private parts and underarms need more maintenance as compared to legs, arms or other larger body parts. Hence, “LASER Hair Reduction” is a more appropriate term than “LASER Hair Removal”.
What is the best laser for hair removal?
There are various types of LASERS available in market. Long pulse Nd:yag and Diode are the most popular LASER in Asian set ups. Though long pulse Nd:yag and conventional diode are painful ,the newer generation diode laser are relatively painless.At our centre, Twachaa skin clinic in Ahmedabad we have US FDA approved Diode laser that has both conventional and painless mode along with a 3rd mode especially designed for fine hairs.
What is IPL?
IPL is short for intense pulsed light. Intense pulsed light (IPL) epilators are technically not a LASERS.IPL s use xenon flash lamps that emit full spectrum light. IPL-based methods, called as “photo epilation”, are now commonly (but incorrectly) referred to as “laser hair removal”.
How many Treatment sessions are needed?
Multiple treatments sessions are needed for treatment. Mostdermatologists recommend an average of 6-8 sessions. Number of sessions vary depending on the area being treated, skin color, coarseness of hair, sex of patient, and any underlying hormonal imbalance. Patients with hirsutism may need more number of sessions.
Why do I need so many sessions?
Hair grows in several phases (anagen- the growing stage; telogen- the resting stage and catagen- the falling stage). LASER can affect only the currently actively growing hair follicles (i.e anagen).The hairs in resting phases of growth regrow after the session. These hairs get targeted later when they move into their active phase of growth. Hence, to target all hairs in various stages of their growth cycle, several sessions are needed.
How much time does a session take?
This would depend on the area being treated. Smaller areas like face or underarms may require 15-20 minutes while larger areas may take 1-3 hours.
What is the gap between consecutive sessions?
For areas with hormone dependent growth (eg. Face, bikini, underarms etc) average gap between 2 sessions is 4-6 weeks and for other body areas may vary from 6- 10 weeks. After initial few sessions the gap between the sessions is usually decided more on clinical ground depending on when the hairs regrow.
Is it painful?
The conventional Diode and long pulsed Nd:YAG are relatively painful. Depending on a person’s pain tolerance, lasers can feel like a gentle pinch or the snap of a hot rubber band. Pain also depends on type of hairs treated- thick and dark hairs produce more discomfort than light and thin hairs. Patients with very low level of pain threshold or while taking LASER on sensitive areas like Bikini, a topical anesthetic cream can be applied before the session for better tolerability and compliance.
Diodes now come with painless in-motion technology which is much better tolerated by patients.
How long do the results last?
The reduction in hair is long term however a few touch up sessions may be required at a gap of a couple of months.
Who can perform LASER?
In most countries hair removal is an unregulated procedure which anyone can do. However some countries recommend that only doctors and doctor-supervised personnel can perform LASER. We also recommend that LASER should be handled by trained personnel/ technician or a cosmetic assistant under direct supervision and responsibility of a Dermatologist.
Are there any side effects of Laser hair reduction?
The usual side effects that occur after laser hair removal treatments, including itching, redness of skin, and swelling around the treatment area or swelling of the follicles (follicular edema). These side effects are very mild and may last for few hours to 2-3 days. More severe side effects include the chance of burning the skin or discoloration of the skin-hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation, flare of acne, scab formation, purpura, and infection. Rare side effects include blistering, scarring and skin texture changes. These effects are very rare under hands of experienced practitioners.
Your Dermatologist would discuss all predictable effects that you will notice after LASER session, but in case you notice any other discomfort on the treated area you should be prompt to discuss this with your dermatologist.
Is LASER treatment expensive?
The cost may initially sound exorbitant, but comparing the amount of money you spend on waxing innumerable times, the cost of both become comparable. More so taking into consideration the convenience and aesthetic advantage which the LASER offers, it is definitely the procedure of choice for thick dark hairs.
What are the precautions one should take before and immediately after the laser session?
As discussed previously the target of LASER is melanin(pigment present in increased amounts in darkened skin),Tanning before a laser treatment should be avoided.Use of topical lightening agents like AHAs and retinoid should be discontinued preferably before a week of taking session.
After the treatment use of sunscreens is essential. In case there is redness of treated area after the session, a topical cream as recommended by your dermatologist should be used.
With so many centers and clinics promoting LASER hair reduction, what according to you are the things we should consider before choosing one of them?
Always opt for LASER treatments at centers run under supervision of dermatologists as these centers usually have efficient and well trained staff. Do not hesitate to ask the type of LASER used in the clinic. Solve your queries satisfactorily before you begin the treatment. Discuss your previous medical history in detail with the doctor.
I want to take LASER for my Bikini area. Will this affect my chances of conceiving in future or cause any other pregnancy complication?
No, lasers are specific in their targets, i.e. melanin is its target and laser is only absorbed by it. Hence laser has no effect on conception and does not cause any pregnancy related complications.
So, does that mean I can take LASER even when pregnant?
I would not recommend it because at this point, there is very little information about the effects it may have on the fetus, so it is best to prevent any possible risks by postponing the treatment until after delivery.