Most people are familiar with laser hair removal as the widely accepted procedure to remove hair permanently. Yet, many of us still regularly resort to the hassle of shaving, tweezing or waxing to remove unwanted hair. For some, this is simply because the latter is what they’re accustomed to, while for others, the high cost of laser treatments is unjustifiable. But to most, it is the varying reviews they hear and read about laser hair removal that makes them sceptical.
After undergoing the laser hair removal procedure, while some patients happily flaunt their new baby smooth skin, there are others who complain about having to make more visits than expected or that they haven’t achieved the permanent results they were promised. Let’s find out what led to their disappointments, so that we can avoid them and be among the satisfied ones.
WHEN IS LASER HAIR REMOVAL MOST EFFECTIVE?
The type of laser used in hair removal targets the melanin (colour), damaging the follicle and removing the hair; the greater the amount of melanin, the better the results. So anyone who has some pigmentation to their hair is a good candidate. Laser hair removal particularly works best on patients with dark hair and light skin, because it’s easier for the laser to detect the hair and not the skin. Therefore, individuals with grey, red, or blonde hair are not as good a candidate for laser hair removal.
WHEN DO LASER HAIR REMOVAL TREATMENTS FAIL?
You are likely to be disappointed if you have unrealistic expectations. Laser hair removal effectively slows hair growth, but multiple treatments are needed to completely disable the hair follicles. Although for most people, after enough treatments, the results are permanent, there are cases where patients experience hair re-growth. However, this new hair is likely to be finer and much lighter in colour. Sometimes, the hair may also be resistant to laser treatment. If this is the case, periodic maintenance treatments will be needed and after several sessions, hair removal will be virtually complete.
WHEN YOU SAY MULTIPLE TREATMENTS, HOW MANY IS THAT ON AVERAGE?
The number of sessions depends on various parameters, particularly the area to be treated and the patient’s gender. On average, for best results you will need four to six treatments at four-week intervals, followed by a maintenance treatment once every six to 12 months, depending on the area treated and the hair follicles; the interval gets longer for maintenance treatment with time.
WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS TO EXPECT?
Laser hair removal is a simple non-invasive procedure, so the possible side effects are temporary. You may experience skin irritation, swelling or redness, which should disappear soon after the session. You may also see a slight discolouration of the skin around the treated area for a short time. Burns on the laser treated area is also possible, particularly for darker skin.
IS LASER HAIR REMOVAL TREATMENT EQUALLY SAFE FOR FACIAL HAIR?
Facial hair in women is probably one of the most frequently treated areas. Men also resort to laser hair removal to permanently remove their beard, although this requires more sessions than their female counterparts. The only area that is untreatable is inside the nose and ears. Also, some laser hair removal centers don’t recommend treatment for the area near the eyes.
ANYTHING WE SHOULD KNOW BEFORE OUR FIRST TRIAL?
Don’t feel embarrassed to enquire about laser hair removal in “unusual” areas. We’ve pretty much treated just about any area you can think of. The underarms are a great place to start since they are smaller areas, and that way you can also get a feel of the laser before treating larger areas. Finally, before undergoing laser treatment you need to avoid sun exposure, tanning beds, as well as hair bleach.