When it comes to keeping your skin smooth and hairless, laser hair removal might not be the first solution that comes to mind. It is known that laser hair removal requires more planning than simply shaving or using depilatories. However, maybe you have reached that point in your life where you are tired of razor burns or prickly legs. If you want to know more about laser hair removal and what to expect while undergoing the process, you will be relieved to know that the process is generally safe and yields truly wonderful benefits.
What is laser hair removal?
It is a medical procedure that uses a laser to remove unwanted hair all over the human body. During the procedure, a laser beam pulses through the skin and destroys the hair follicles, thereby making the hair in them fall out and inhibiting the future growth of hair in the follicles.
It is good to know that laser hair removal is most effective on those who have light skin and coarse, dark hair. For people with light-colored, red, grey, blond, or white hair, laser hair removal does not work well, as the hair cannot absorb much or any of the laser's energy. Having darker skin also makes the laser less effective.
Even though laser hair removal effectively slows hair growth in the treated areas, there is no guarantee that the hair will be permanently gone. In general, multiple laser treatments are necessary. The reason is that hair grows in different stages, and a single laser hair removal treatment will destroy only those which are at the active growth stage.
As mentioned, laser hair removal is used to remove unwanted hair. Locations like the legs, arms, underarms, face, or genital region are treated. While you can treat almost any part of the body with laser hair removal, it is not used to remove hair near the eyes such as eyebrows, since the eyes could be damaged by the laser.
Before Undergoing Laser Hair Removal
Avoid waxing or plucking for at least two to four weeks before the laser hair removal, as these hair removal procedures can disturb the hair follicle and therefore interfere with the laser hair removal procedure. However, shaving is acceptable as it will have no effect on the hair shafts and hair follicles, meaning it will not have any bearing on the laser hair removal procedure.
Avoid getting a suntan as it can increase the risk of side effects and complications following the laser hair removal procedure. In some cases, it is recommended that one wait at least 6 weeks with no exposure to the sun before going for a laser hair removal treatment. In general, people undergo laser hair removal in winter when there is very little exposure to the sun.
Shave the areas where the hair will be removed as your doctor has instructed you on your first appointment. The doctor will usually recommend that you shave a day or two before the laser hair removal procedure. By shaving, you will relieve yourself of some pain, since the treatment is more painful when the hair is long.
Sometimes medications like antibiotics or antivirals are prescribed by the doctor. Make sure to take them as instructed.
Carefully clean the area where the hair will be removed during the procedure. Do not apply any lotions, creams, or deodorants.
After Undergoing Laser Hair Removal
Just like any treatment, laser hair removal has risks and possible complications. Skin irritation and pigment changes are common concerns.
In rare cases, laser hair removal causes blisters, crusting, scarring, and other uncomfortable or unsightly skin changes.
Other possible complications following laser hair removal are the graying of treated hair and a paradoxical excessive growth of hair in the treated area or around it.
Remember that laser hair removal is not recommended for eyelids, due to the possibility of eye injury.
You can expect to experience a degree of pain during the procedure, and this is normal. However, if the procedure is not done properly, then the pain experienced can become excruciating and even unbearable. In most cases, the pain is minimal when the procedure is performed by an experienced professional.
After the procedure, you may experience some itching around the area that was just treated, but this feeling usually goes away after a few hours. To help soothe the skin irritation, an ice compress applied for a few minutes would help.
Discoloration of the skin in the treated area
The treated area will often become red, but that’s only because of the heat produced during the procedure. Discoloration may also occur wherein the skin becomes lighter on a dark-skinned person or darker on a light-skinned person. As you already know, heat from laser hair removal equipment targets the darker parts of the skin, and therefore it is most effective when the hair is dark and the skin is light. Nevertheless, the settings could actually be adjusted so that the laser works regardless of the skin or hair color, but discoloration may occur if the settings are not inputted properly. If this happens, one must not panic; the skin color will regain its normal tone in a few hours.
Skin tone changes
Hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation are also possible after a laser hair removal treatment. Hypopigmentation is the lightening of the skin in the treated area. The laser can sometimes inhibit the production process of melanin, leading to a permanent loss of pigmentation. This means that hypopigmentation is not reversible.
On the other hand, hyperpigmentation is the darkening of the skin in the treated area. The laser can sometimes stimulate the production process of melanin, a reaction similar to getting a suntan.
If the procedure is performed incorrectly and by non–professionals, there is a possibility of getting the skin burned. Skin burns are more common among people with darker skin tone, as it tends to absorb the laser energy more. In general, these skin burns are light to mild. However, severe skin burns have also been reported. As mentioned, most of the cases of skin burns have resulted from treatments performed by inexperienced and unqualified people.
In rare cases, laser hair removal treatment can cause blistering, crusting, or scarring of the skin.
There is usually a plume of smoke discharged during the procedure as the hair follicles are ‘burned’, and various toxins have been found in this smoke. This poses a risk to the practitioner alone, not the client, and it can be avoided by using a face mask or an evacuator, which is a heavy-duty suction machine.
Although most of the risks cited above are superficial, some people may be adamant against having laser hair removal, because they have misconceptions about the effects of the procedure. Chief among these concerns is cancer, which some people are afraid may be caused by the radiation produced by the lasers. However, this is not true, and is in fact just a worry stemming from the fear of radiation.
Laser hair removal may provide you with the smooth and hairless skin you want. While there are a few possible health risks, it is important to remember that this procedure is considered safe.
- Laser hair removal is a medical procedure that uses a laser to remove unwanted hair and can be done all over the human body.
- Laser hair removal is most effective on those who have light skin and coarse, dark hair.
- There is no guarantee that all the hair in the treated area will be permanently gone after a single treatment.