Laser hair removal treatment is an extremely popular cosmetic procedure for both men and women alike. Most areas on the body and face can be treated with lasers for permanent hair reduction with the most popular areas being the chin, upper lip, cheeks, legs, arms, underarms, bikini line and back. When having laser hair removal, it is vital that you do your research as the person conducting the treatment needs to be both qualified and experienced, and the facilities you are having the treatment in need to be adequate and safe.
Let’s start with the basics, how does laser hair removal work?
Laser hair removal works to remove hair by using a light source to destroy the hair. Light is directed on to the skin which is then absorbed by the melanin pigments in the hair. The absorption of the light causes the hair follicle to heat up. By using the correct amount of light energy which heats the follicle to the correct temperature, the heat is able to interrupt the hair growth cycle causing the hair to stop growing.
A course of treatment is required to see the desired results because hair grows in cycles, so not all the hair will be targeted during one single treatment session. Results are usually seen between four to six sessions but this is dependent on the thickness of the hair being removed, as well as the skin type and hair colour. Laser hair removal also requires some patience as results aren’t often seen until two or three weeks after your first treatment.
How to prepare for laser hair removal treatment:
- Shave the area about a week before your treatment is due, this will give a chance for the hair to be visible, but not too long that it affects the treatment
- If you are having laser hair removal on your face, remove your makeup
- Do not apply fake tan before your treatment
- Make sure you do not have a tan
What to do after laser hair removal treatment:
Your practitioner will provide you with detailed advice post treatment specific to the area you had treated, however the following advice is common following laser hair removal.
- Avoid sunbathing – you will also need to let your therapist know if you are going on holiday during your course of treatment
- Apply moisturiser containing a high SPF daily
- Avoid very hot showers or saunas for 24 hours
- Don’t go to the gym or do strenuous exercise for 24 hours
- You can reapply your makeup following treatment
- Avoid using harsh scrubs as part of your skincare routine
- Wait 1-2 weeks before using fake tan
- During your laser hair removal treatments, don’t pluck, wax or dye the hair, you can however shave or use hair removal creams
Benefits of laser hair removal
The main benefit of laser hair removal is that you will see a permanent reduction of hair after a course of treatments. If you have unwanted hair which causes embarrassment, this will improve your confidence and will also reduce the need to use other methods to remove hair including shaving or waxing.
Another benefit of laser hair removal is that it is a relatively quick treatment. Each pulse of the laser takes a fraction of a second and can treat many hairs at the same time. The exact time of your appointment will depend based on how large the area of the body is that you are treating.
One of the significant benefits from laser hair removal is that your skin will be in much better condition. Problems such as spots, rashes and ingrown hairs are greatly reduced or eliminated entirely with laser hair removal.
Potential side effects of laser hair removal
If your laser hair removal treatment is conducted by a professional with the relevant qualifications then there are minimal side effects. Most treatments will also involve a cooler unit which cools the skin as it is being treated to reduce any side effects. Following the treatment your skin may feel sensitive or appear red but this will fade within a few hours. Following laser treatment, the treated skin is more sensitive to the sun and heat so it is recommended to protect the skin with an SPF of 50 and not to have a hot bath or shower following treatment.
Laser hair removal isn’t suitable for those who are pregnant, as the effects on the unborn child are unknown. There is no evidence to suggest that laser hair removal causes skin cancer.
Do your research before deciding to have laser hair removal treatment and ensure that the therapist carrying out your treatment is fully qualified. If not used correctly, laser treatments can lead to burns and scarring. You will be required to attend a consultation before treatment begins, where you can ask any questions you have, discuss the areas of concern and have a patch test to ensure you won’t react to the treatment.
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Dr Alice Hudson-Peacock
Speciality Doctor in Dermatology & Laser Therapy
Qualifications: MBBCh DRCOG MRCGP
Dr Hudson-Peacock has been providing laser treatments for skin conditions since 1997. She was the winner of the Silver Award for Aesthetic Practitioner of the Year at The Kent Health and Beauty Awards 2016.
Dr Hudson-Peacock is the managing director of the Canterbury Skin and Laser Clinic which is part of the Stratum Dermatology Clinics.
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