Laser hair removal is the answer to all your constant struggles in maintaining smooth, hair-free skin.
It is a cosmetic medical procedure. It uses a pulsating beam of light emitted by a laser machine. In fact, this beam of light energy helps to remove and get rid of unwanted hair.
How does the procedure work?
- Laser hair removal works on the principle called ‘selective photothermolysis’.
- This means that dermatologists match specific wavelength of light and pulse duration to that of the treatment tissue to obtain the maximal effect.
- Melanin is the colour pigment present in skin and hair that absorbs this radiation, acting as the target matter.
- The melanin in the hair follicles absorbs the intense heat of the laser.
- This damages the hair follicle, hence inhibiting future hair growth.
That is why the treatment works best on those with light skin (low melanin) and dark hair (higher melanin) as the melanin in the hair draws the radiation away from the skin.
- Different lasers are effective for different hair and skin types.
Amongst the different lasers available, diode laser has stood the test of time. There are many reasons for this, such as:
- Diode laser projects light within the visible to the infrared range (~810 nm) in order to target specific pigment cells.
- It works on both light and dark skin. However, it is more effective for darker, terminal hair than lighter, finer hair.
- Compared to other lasers, its wavelength offers the deepest penetration and superior melanin absorption.
These unique characteristics make diode laser the most suitable technology for laser hair removal, allowing safe and effective treatment of all skin and hair types, for all body areas.
Speed and Efficacy
- Diode laser hair removal is so popular because of its speed and efficacy.
- A single session rarely takes as long as an hour anymore. In fact, it an office-hour procedure, which means that is quick & ensures a speedy recovery.
- This procedure has been proven to achieve ‘permanent hair reduction’ in 90% of the cases.
- It ensures a stable reduction, in hair regrowth after a treatment regime.
- Your doctor will discuss with you your medical history, the risks and benefits of treatment, and your expectations from it beforehand.
- Shave the area you wish to get the procedure on, preferably a day before.
- Don’t wax or use other hair removal methods like plucking or electrolysis anytime before a laser hair removal treatment session.
- Stay away from the sun, tanning beds, spray tans, tanning lotion, and chlorine water from at least a month before the treatment.
- You can’t receive the treatment if you are facing a sunburn or even a sun tan, in order to avoid side effects like skin lightening.
- Don’t use scrubs, glycolic acid and retinol creams for 2 days before treatment, and chemical peels since 2 weeks prior.
- Start using face mists and additional moisturisers if you find your skin getting more dry.
- On the day of the procedure, your doctor will explain the procedure to you step-by-step and address all your concerns.
- Thereafter, he will take your consent for the procedure and only then will it begin.
- Test patch: Pigment problems, discoloration, and scarring can occur in some skin types with cosmetic laser treatments; that’s why it’s important to conduct a small test patch first to make sure that your skin is accepting of the treatment.
- Eye protection: Your physician will always provide you with eye protection to avoid the effects of radiation around the eyes.
- Settings: The settings of the diode laser are adjusted to both your skin and hair colour, so that the wavelength of the light emitted from the laser beam matches that of the pigment in you hair.
- Your dermatologist will clean and shave the treatment area and administer the local anaesthesia. He will then treat each area individually with the laser.
- Pain: While the treatment isn’t exactly relaxing, the pain feels like someone is snapping you with a rubber band every time the laser fires. Most lasers also have a cooling mechanism to help with the pain.
- Some swelling or blistering is common. Therefore, you can use an ice pack to help relieve it. It usually subsides within 2-3 days.
- Use a sunscreen (SPF 30) religiously post-treatment to prevent hyperpigmentation.
- Do not wax or pluck your hair even after the treatment, because pulling out hair follicles after laser hair removal hinders the process. However, you can shave the area if you want.
- Avoid perfumes and deodorants for 24-48 hours after treatment.
- The heat from the laser stays in your skin for a day, so don’t go to gym or saunas in order to avoid creating a warm environment for the bacteria to breed in and give you spots.
- Opt for lukewarm showers instead of hot showers in the first week after treatment.
- Don’t use scrubs, glycolic acid and retinol creams even after treatment for 2 days, and chemical peels for 2 weeks.
- Lastly, your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to relieve pain and swelling, and antibiotics to prevent infection.
When will I see results?
- While you will discover smooth, hairless skin after the first treatment itself, you shall need multiple such treatments for the effects to become permanent.
- Moreover, while the hair may grow back as before after the first session, you will begin to notice a dramatic drop in the growth of your unwanted hair follicles after the three-month mark, and notice even more difference after that.
- Similarly, you will see fewer and fewer hair return after progressive treatments, so finishing the entire series of treatment sessions is crucial to attain the highest degree of permanent hair reduction.
Why does one require multiple sessions?
- A series of treatment sessions are necessary to ensure permanent hair reduction.
- This is because hair grows in four stages: anagen (growing stage), telogen (transitional), catagen (resting stage), and early anagen (shedding).
- Like all lasers, diode laser can act only on the hair that is in the anagen stage because this is when the hair contains abundant melanin, which is essential to absorb the radiation from the laser that can disable the follicle.
- So a series of treatments is crucial to attack each of the hair follicles present on the treatment area during their growing stage.
- The exact duration of each session varies in every case, depending on factors such as:
- size of the treatment area
- how many areas are being treated during the same session
- the density of hair
- the thickness/coarseness of hair
- the height and weight of the patient
- On an average, larger areas of the body such as the back, chest, shoulders or legs can take half an hour or longer, while smaller areas such as the bikini line, upper lip, chin or the underarms can take as little as five to ten minutes.
- The number of treatment sessions and the gap between them also depends on multiple factors like:
- skin type
- hair colour
- hair coarseness
- the depth of hair follicle
- overall hair growth density
- treatment area
- hormone levels
- In general, majority of the individuals will need at least 4-6 sessions with diode laser. The duration between 2 sessions will be around 6-10 weeks apart. This will help achieve 70-90% hair reduction.
- With subsequent sessions, you will witness fewer and fewer hair cropping back, until you start experiencing smooth, hairless skin all year round. Even in cases where few hair keep growing back, they are barely noticeable.
Pros and cons of the Diode Laser Hair Removel Procedure:
- Permanent hair reduction: While laser cannot claim to achieve permanent hair removal, it definitely can grant permanent hair reduction, to an extent where you can stop shaving completely.
- Any area: Diode laser can be used to remove hair over any area of the body except for the sensitive area around the eyes. Common areas are underarms, bikini line, legs, back, upper lip, chin, etc.
- Fewer ingrown hair: By encouraging the hair to grow straight, diode laser also eliminates the risk of stubborn ingrowth of hair.
- Dynamic: Diode laser, is suited to almost all skin types, and can be altered depending upon the skin type and texture, hair colour, hair thickness and other factors. But it works best for individuals with fair skin and dark hair colour.
- Fast and effective: In today’s busy world where time saved is time earned. Hair removal via diode laser allows you to earn all the time that you’d otherwise spend on waxing and shaving all your life, by permanently ridding you of undesirable hair.
- Enhances rapid healing: Laser stimulates the production of collagen which helps restore the skin structure faster, once the dead cells have fallen off.
- Expensive: Diode laser is not an affordable treatment for all, but it sure gives you your money’s worth when you can afford it.
- Less effective in some cases: It may not be suited for certain areas of the body and hair types.
- After effect: Diode laser has a narrow safety margin. So rarely, it can leave patches of tan on the skin by damaging the melanocytes (pigment cells) in skin. Moreover, it could also leave burns or scars on the skin if performed by an untrained professional.
Patience and consistency
You have to be consistent if you wish to see results, so that each hair follicle has the chance to be zapped in its active stage. Do not be tardy in scheduling and keeping up with your appointments, as advised by your doctor.
In most cases, 50% hair reduction is noticed at the three treatment mark, and about 70-90% of hair regrowth reduction after 4-6 treatment sessions.
- As described, the duration and the number of treatment sessions is subjective to many variable factors. So it’s best when laser hair removal treatment is conducted in a personalized manner for each individual.
- This allows your doctor to observe the results after each session and determine how well your hair is adapting to treatment. Accordingly, further sessions are scheduled.
- Your physician will also guide you through the before and after care routine throughout the length of your treatment. Be sure to follow it.