Hair removal is accomplished with conventional treatments such as shaving, waxing, plucking and epilation. Each of these methods can be tedious and painful, and may lead to infection (such as Folliculitis). Unfortunately, all are also temporary. At present there are two long-term solutions, Electrolysis and Laser Hair Removal. Another treatment also used in some clinics is IPL hair removal.
Laser Hair Removal offers a safe, long-term solution for unwanted hair without the side effects of other methods. Lasers operate by the use of selective photolysis, a process where pulses of intense light is emitted into the hair follicles. The laser targets the melanin (pigment) in the follicles, which is then converted to heat. It is the heat and light that is delivered to the hair root and follicle that destroys its capacity to grow new hair. Treatment to each area takes only seconds to destroy the follicle while protecting the surrounding skin.
At Dr Michael Rich’s – The enRich Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Centre we have two different types of laser hair removal. The Photogenica Apogee(Alexandrite), LightSheer, Gemini Laser and the new Excel-V Laser which both offer a safe, long-term solution for unwanted hair without the side effects of other methods.
- The LPIR (Alexandrite) Laser (fair to olive skins with fine to coarse hair)
This laser works by emitting pulses of intense light into the hair follicles. The laser targets the melanin (pigment) in the follicles, which is then converted to heat. It is this heat and light that destroys the hair at the root. The laser is pulsed (turned on) for only half a second and the duration of each pulse is just long enough to disable the root of the hair but not long enough to cause excess heat damage to the skin.
- The Gemini Laser (olive to dark skin with coarse hair)
This laser works by emitting a longer wavelength of intense light. This penetrates deeper than the LPIR and passes through the skins layer of pigment without causing any damage. This deeper penetration is more suitable for patients with darker skin colour such as Asian skin types. As the Gemini laser penetrates deeper, it is usual that the hair follicle takes longer to fall out.
John Mills the creator of the Gemini laser, has 10years later come out with a new multi-purpose laser. One of its many functions is hair removal (also when using this setting helps minimize underlying redness). The purpose of the treatment is to selectively treat the hair follicle without causing thermal damages to the surrounding tissue. The laser light is absorbed by melanin, which target (chromophore) in hair. The light is converted to heat. Heat damages the bulge and bulb, disabling the hair structure.
The Procedure for Laser Hair Removal
A test patch is performed on all patients to determine the correct energy level that will give the best results and to check for skin reaction. Laser hair removal is relatively painless. Most people do not require any treatment for discomfort by the laser as a ‘cooling machine’ cools the skin as the laser passes over, easing any discomfort. If desired a local anaesthetic cream may be applied to relieve any discomfort.
At any one time there are hair follicles producing hair and some lying dormant. Only those in the growth phase will absorb the laser beam, which means it will be necessary to have several treatments to disable all hair follicles. Generally three or four treatments are necessary. Optimal results are achieved if the hair is shaved two days prior to treatment and the patient is advised not to pluck or wax the treated area for three to four weeks before the treatment.
The Recovery Process for Laser Hair Removal
It is probable that during the procedure the skin will become slightly red and warm. Any redness should subside fairly quickly after the procedure with most patients returning to work or social activities within a short period of time. Occasionally some redness may last for a day or two and very rarely fine scabbing may occur. If so please call the clinic, it is also important not:
- to pick or scratch the area as the skin can be damaged.
- sun exposure
- aftershaves, etc.
This should be avoided for 24 hours after treatment. In the week following the treatment, it may appear as though the hair is growing however this is usually the residue of the destroyed follicles, which will fall out of their own accord, usually within two weeks. The time between treatments differs greatly from person to person due to their hair growth cycle.
Risks and Complications for Laser Hair Removal
The risks associated with laser hair removal should be carefully considered and are discussed thoroughly prior to the commencement of treatment. Risks such as hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation are rare although must be considered. If scabbing occurs it is usually very superficial and should settle within four to ten days. It is extremely rare to have any scarring from this laser, although it is possible to have some loss of pigment in the area treated. If this occurs, it is usually transient and will settle.
You should also be aware of electrolysis which requires a needle to be inserted into the shaft of each individual hair follicle. This requires considerable time and commitment and is dependent on the skill of the operator. Care must be taken as electrolysis may also lead to permanent scarring or pigmentation of the treated area.
Laser Hair Removal FAQs
Am I a candidate for Laser Hair Removal?
Almost anybody who has undesirable hair is a candidate for laser hair removal. However certain conditions may complicate treatment. Laser hair removal achieves the best results when the patients’ skin is fair and has dark coarse hair. Patients with dark skin can also be treated with a different laser. Lasers with longer wavelengths are generally useful for darker-skinned patients.
What areas can be treated?
Laser Hair Removal can be performed on virtually any hair bearing part of your body including your arms, legs, bikini area, back, etc.
What does it feel like?
The procedure is relatively painless, being described as ‘a rubber band flicking against the skin’.
If you would like to find out more about laser hair removal contact us for a cosmetic surgery consultation with one of our specialist cosmetic nurses on 03 9500 9500