Laser Treatment Can Help Eliminate Unwanted Hair.
Unwanted hair can grow in many areas of the body, both on men and women. Normally it tends to appear on the upper lip, sideburns, chin, ears, chest, back, armpits, legs, fingers, feet or toes and it tends to annoy most people.
Laser Hair Removal Treatment Procedures
On the day of treatment the skin should be clean and without any cosmetics. A topical anaesthetic may be applied to the skin before the treatment commences. The patient discomfort can also be reduced with the use of a cooling device (cool gel, refrigerant spray or water-cooled contact piece) that is present in most lasers, it also prevents excessive heating and reduces the risk of skin darkening or lightening. Protective eyewear should also be used during the treatment.
The sensation of the laser pulses on the skin feel like the snapping of a rubber band or warm pinpricks against the skin. The laser should vaporise the hair shaft, causing a light swelling and redness of the hair follicles within few minutes of treatment. Painkiller can be taken before and after the laser treatment, also ice packs can be applied to the skin afterwards. In case localised blistering appears, topical antibiotic can be applied to the skin on a daily basis until it heals. A mild steroid can also be given to minimise swelling and redness. Skin expose to the sun should be avoided and sunscreen factor 30 should be used after the laser treatment. It is ok to wear cosmetics after treatment.
Types of Lasers and How they Work
The treatment for hair removal using laser can be more cost-effective and faster then other methods, as a large area of the skin can be treated at the same time.
Laser treatment works by sending a low-energy beam through the skin that is absorbed by the melanin pigment present in the hair follicles. Laser can destroy about 80 percent of the hair after repeating the treatment a few times, as the hair grows in cycles. Normally three or more treatments may be needed to successfully reduce hair growth permanently.
There are different types of laser that can be used to reduce unwanted hair, including: the ruby, alexandrite, diode and intense pulsed light (IPL). Treatment with these types of laser is better suited for light-skinned and dark-haired people, because the light is not absorbed by the dark pigments in the surrounding skin. Darker skin types are better treated with Nd:YAG lasers, as they have longer wavelengths that are absorbed by dark pigments around the skin. Laser treatment is more effective for dark hair, lighter hair (white, grey or red) is less responsive. A topical medication may be given to patients with light hair to increase their receptiveness to laser treatment.
How Successful is Laser Hair Removal Treatment?
The success rate depends on the location of the hair, areas of thin skin such as bikini line or armpits tend to respond better than areas of thick skin, like back and chin. During each course of treatment the patient can expect about 10-25 percent reduction in hair growth, with the new hair growing lighter and finer. The treatment can be repeated every four to eight weeks.
Pre-operative Consultation Procedure
During the consultation process your dermatologist will assess the following:
- Skin type
- Hair colour
- Thickness and location of hair
- Presence of tan
- Previous hair removal methods
- Presence of tattoos or moles in the affected area
- Medical history including: ovarian or thyroid disease, medications, history of abnormal scarring, history of cold sore outbreaks or previous use of isotretinoin.
This assessment will enable your doctor to determine the best type of laser treatment for you. Your consultant should also discuss with you the need for multiple treatment sessions and maintenance treatment, as well as the possible reactions to the treatment.
Pre-treatment Skin Care Instructions
Before starting the laser treatment to remove hair the patient should use sunscreen factor 15 or more and avoid tanning and sunless tanners. The patient should not pluck or wax the hair nor should they undergo an electrolysis session. It is ok to use depilatory creams or shave one to two days before the laser treatment. In case the patient suffers from herpes simplex (cold sore), an oral medication can be taken one day before the treatment starts to suppress the possibility of an outbreak in the treatment area.
The Possible Side Effects of Laser Hair Removal Treatment
The side effects can include the following:
- Swelling around the hair follicle
- Redness and inflammation
Side effects can last one to three days. Other side effects can include:
- Herpes simplex outbreaks
- Bacterial infections
- Temporary skin lightening or darkening (especially in darker skin types)
- Permanent skin pigment change or scarring, these are very rare
Causes of Excessive Hair Growth
There are two types of excess hair growth: hypertrichosis or hirsuitism.
Hypertrichosis: is the appearance of excess hair in a normal or abnormal pattern. It can occur due to medications, hormones, malnutrition, tumours or metabolic problems. It can also be inherited through genes.
Hirsuitism: is the appearance of excess hair in women in a male pattern such as the beard, moustache, lower abdomen. It can occur due to hormone, medication, tumours or it can also be heredity.
Other Types of Hair Removal Methods
There are many ways unwanted hair can be removed, including:
- Depilatories creams
- Electronic tweezers
- Radiofrequency tweezers
- Electrolysis (burning of the hair follicle with an electric spark through the insertion of a needle into the hair follicle)
A topical cream called eflornithine can also be used to slow hair growth on the face in women. Most of these methods are temporary, laser is the most effective method for permanent hair reduction.