Comfort and efficacy are not the only reasons why women are turning to lasers for hair removal.
Earlier generations of lasers and intensive pulse light (IPL) treatments were less effective and more painful than modern machines such as the Candela Gentle Hair Removal system.
The Candela Gentle system is more effective and longer lasting than its predecessors so patients require fewer treatments. It can effectively treat a wider variety of skin and hair types than older systems and it is also equipped with a cooling gas function which uses cryogen gas to cool the skin. As well as reducing discomfort the cooling function greatly reduces the chances of side effects. With older machines, problems such as blistering from overheating of the epidermis and PIH (Post Inflammatory Hyper-pigmentation) were more common. Compared to established methods such as waxing, lasers tend to reduce if not eliminate the incidence of ingrown hair and inflamed follicles that result in bumpy “chicken skin”.
Today’s machines are also more versatile because we can adjust power settings and so on for different areas of the body. We can use the same machine to treat the thicker, coarser pubic hair and sensitive skin areas for a Brazilian, the medium thick hair and less sensitive skin of the legs or even the fine hairs and delicate skin of the face.
Number of treatments required
The exact number of treatments a person will need can vary quite a bit depending on skin and hair type, how much hair the patient has, and the area to be treated but for the average Brazilian five to seven sessions are enough for most people. Each treatment will reduce hair growth by 20 to 30 percent. After five to seven treatments, there will be permanent hair growth reduction. By this we mean, there will be far fewer hairs growing, the individual hairs will be finer and lighter in colour and the overall growth rate will be greatly reduced. Man women find that the effect is pretty much permanent but we usually advise women to come back once or twice a year after their initial course of treatments to ensure the effect is maintained.
How to Prepare for Laser Hair Removal
Before getting laser hair removal, you should thoroughly check the credentials of the clinic where you are having the procedure.
Limit plucking, waxing the hair for six weeks before treatment as they temporarily remove the hair roots the laser targets. You should also avoid sun exposure for six weeks before a treatment. A tan makes laser hair removal more difficult and complications after treatment more likely.
What to Expect During Laser Hair Removal
Just before the procedure the hair to be treated will be trimmed to a few millimetres. The laser equipment will be adjusted according to the colour and thickness of the hair, the target area and your skin type.
You will need to wear appropriate eye protection. With the Candela system’s built-in cooling system no protective gels are required but some, older, lasers do require gels to protect the outer layers of the skin.
The technician will deliver a test pulse to the treatment area and watch the area for several minutes to test settings and to check for bad reactions.
After the procedure, if treated with a Candela, you can simply wipe away any loose hair, dress and leave, however other systems may require you to use an ice packs, anti-inflammatory creams or plain cold water to ease any discomfort. Treatments are scheduled every four to six weeks until hair stops growing.
The treated area may be a little sensitive the next day but will soon return to normal. Over the next month, the treated hair will fall out. If treated on the face or other exposed areas, wear sunscreen for the following month to help prevent temporary changes in the colour of the treated skin.
Costs of Laser Hair Removal
The cost of hair removal varies widely, depending on factors that include:
- Size of the area being treated and time required for treatment
- Number of treatments required
- Whether a doctor or a trained technician is performing the procedure
- The type and age of the laser being used
Dr Chua is a graduate of National University of Singapore with a Bachelor in Medicine and Surgery. He is the founder of KCS Medical Group and runs a clinic specialising in aesthetic treatments for both men and women.