In this article, experienced hair removal practitioner Mrs Gosia Farrugia answers common questions and misconceptions about laser hair removal. Obvious question:
Q: What is laser hair removal and how does it work?
A: Laser hair removal exposes hair to laser light. It works on the principle of photothermolysis -- the beam of light penetrates the skin and is absorbed by melanin; which is the pigment that is found in the hair follicles.Q: Mmmm.. kay. Can you reword that for us "humans"? ;-)
A: Sure. The emitted laser destroys hair bulbs, but it is safe for the skin, because it does not penetrate into the deep layers, and only works on the surface.
Q: Alright, that's better. I often hear "laser" hair removal and "IPL". Are laser hair removal and IPL the same thing?
A: Both of them generate light, however there is a significant difference between the wavelengths of the light used. A laser emits monochromatic light while IPL is generated by a xenon lamp which then passes through a filter system. This means, that there isn’t a single wavelength. Studies show that IPL is not as effective in hair removal as lasers, but they may be used in other procedures.
Q: How do you prepare for laser hair removal treatment?
A: Following all of the below helps:
- 2-4 weeks prior the procedure, do not sunbathe or use self-tanning products. On tanned skin, the level of melanin goes up and if it will be treated by laser it may result in burns of the skin.
- One month before the procedure, avoid taking any photosensitizers like tetracyclines and retinoids, including isotretinoin which is used to cure acne. Caution must also be preserved in the use of plants like St John’s Wort and creams containing retinol and alpha hydroxy acids.
- One month before the treatment avoid using epilation creams, waxing or plucking the hair with the tweezer.
- The area to be treated should be shaved approximately 2-3 days prior.
- The skin should not be dry or with wounds.
- And you cannot use any skincare creams or perfumes directly before the treatment.
Q: How many laser hair removal procedures should one perform?
A: It is usually recommended to carry out three to five or more treatments depending on the age of the patient, hair colour and the area to be treated. The expected result, even after just one session of laser hair removal, is to have up to 30% of hair not growing back.
Q: How often should the procedure be carried out?
A: For the best results the procedure should be repeated at every four to twelve weeks interval, depending on the area to be treated. For example, the facial area should be carried out between four to six weeks apart initially, while underarms and bikini line should be done every six to eight weeks.
Q: Does laser hair removal hurt?
A: Well, this depends on who you ask. While Laser hair removal does not hurt, it can be felt as unpleasant. There may be slight discomfort described as tingling, pinching or burning. Typically, the degree of pain sensation depends on the sensitivity of the person undergoing the procedure.
Q: What are the contraindications for laser hair removal?
A: Several come to mind:
- Recent waxing or use of depilator
- Taking phototoxic drugs
However, even with some of these conditions laser hair removal can still be done. It is best to consult the leading dermatologist who can decide if the specific case is eligible to undergo laser hair removal procedure.
Q: Is laser hair removal effective?
A: Currently laser hair removal is the only method of long-term destruction of the hair follicles. The best results will be seen on a patient with dark, coarse hair because the melanin concentration is higher; however an experienced practitioner is able to successfully remove thin hair also.
Q: How much does laser hair removal cost?
A: The cost of one laser hair removal session depends on the type of laser and the chosen treatment area. Prices usually start from 10 euro.
About the author
Mrs Gosia Farrugia has a Masters degree in Cosmetology with a special interest in Laser Hair Removal & skin treatments. She has been working as a laser hair removal practitioner since 2011.