LASER HAIR REMOVAL
Let’s first talk about laser hair removal.
So, we’re starting from basics, and I’ll tell you all you need to know and more in regards to laser hair removal.
- Fact number one: if your hair is white it is not suitable for laser hair removal. The reason is that we need a chromophore or a target to hit. So laser hair removal only works if you have dark hair.
- Fact number two: a laser is different from IPL (Intense Pulsed Light). In Australia, US and many other countries, they’re not regulated, because all salons are doing this, and medical specialists are doing this, so it’s out there, and everyone does this.
So, if you see something called an IPL, don’t go near it, because this is not gold standard treatment.
Yes, it is used for laser hair removal, but this is a decade old technology.
Does it work?
Yes it does.
However, with the newer systems – IPL is far outdated.
So, if anyone’s trying to convince you to do IPL for hair removal, walk away because there are much more effective systems.
Also, it’s going to cost you a lot more money in the long run, it’s not as effective as lase, and it has a more side effects.
Now, with laser hair removal there are basically three things that we want to consider:
- the wavelength of the laser, because that will determine the skin type,
- the inbuilt cooling system of the laser, and that will determine both comfort levels and also patient safety, and
- your skin type and what color you are.
HOW DOES LASER HAIR REMOVAL WORK?
In order to understand this, we have to know the hair cycles
Well, 90% of the time hair in the “anagen state”, or in other words a “growing phase”, is when we can actually remove the hair.
Now, in “catagen state” and “telogen state”, the hair sleeping and that’s why you need multiple sessions in order to get the best results from hair removal.
So with laser hair removal we can use different systems, but remember, with laser hair removal no matter what wavelength were setting, we’re actually aiming to hit the area of the root of the hair itself.
So which lasers have the least pain in regards to hair removal?
Okay, now we can talk about cooling systems.
The cooling system is really important for two things:
- patient comfort, and
- protection of the upper part of your skin or your epidermis.
Remember, we do not want to blister the patient, we do not want to treat the upper part of the skin, and we want to preserve that.
However, we want to deliver all that energy to where the hair bulb is, and to achieve this, there are different cooling systems.
If we look back to our old fashion systems like our IPL, the cooling system uses a sapphire crystal.
This sapphire crystal we still use in the modern cooling systems, so it still pertains to lasers.
Another way of cooling system, or basically another way to decrease pain, is to use what’s known as a “gated theory”.
The “gated theory” is basically suctioning the skin, and skin sense vacuum pressure instead of pulse, and realistically this treatment is painless.
The third thing we can do for pain relief, as well as cooling, is to use something what’s known as a Zimmer.
A Zimmer machine essentially blows cold air, and decreases pain that much.
It’s basically like a refrigerator with an air conditioner, this is just the cold air, and that relief from the pain when you having a hair removal.
It doesn’t really protect the skin, unlike what a cryogen treatment can, but it actually helps with the pain, so it’s just cold air and it’s distracting for the patient.
So, this is another way of actually decreasing pain from hair removal.
It is not as good as cryogen, but like I said, it’s better than nothing.
MYTHS ABOUT LASER HAIR REMOVAL
Now, let’s talk about some myths about laser hair removal.
Is it permanent?
Yes it’s permanent reduction, but it’s not a permanent treatment?
Most people will need top ups at some stage of your life, and the ones that need top ups are usually the ones that hormonally driven.
So, 10 to 20 percent of females will suffer something called PCOS or “Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome”.
This is a hormonally driven process, and for these people laser hair removal does not work as well when it comes to permanence.
They will need two or three top ups a year, and maybe one or two top ups after that.
Is it for men?
Because men have lots more testosterone, our hair tends to be thicker and especially with our back hair you will need more treatments.
Sometimes you will need up to 10 treatments, and because it’s testosterone driven, sometimes it tends to recur much quicker than hair in females, for example.
How often you need to get it done?
It’s not a one or two treatment process – there are multiple treatments.
How many treatment you will need, that depends on your genetics.
So, it depends on genetics, it depends on race, depends on individual factors as well, and most patients will need at least five to ten treatments, depending on the area and depending on the hair type and ethnic background.
There are many variables, and someone who’s good at doing hair removal will know approximately how many treatments you will require.
HOW DO WE PREPARE OURSELVES FOR LASER HAIR REMOVAL?
The first thing you want to do is to avoid sun exposure.
So, avoid sun exposure for at least two weeks before laser hair removal.
That also includes using fake tans, because what we want to do is to hit the chromophore.
Basically, it’s a target which is the melanin within your hair follicle itself.
So, if you’re tan, it makes it most the laser energy gets taken up by your skin, so it makes it less efficient, and more unsafe because there is a high chance of blistering.
The second thing is to avoid plucking your hair for at least two to three weeks prior. Remember, we want that actual “hair bulb” there.
So, if you pluck that there’s no target to hit.
The third thing is to make sure you shave.
The reason why you want to shave the night before is because we don’t want the laser itself to hit the hair on the outside.
We want the laser the target the hair bulb which is underneath your skin.
So, if you shave the night before, you’re going to be much more efficient when it comes to the laser energy.
The fourth thing is sun protection afterwards.
Super important to remember is to look after your skin.
If you do go out after laser, you make it post-inflammatory, hyperpigmentation or skin darkening, so stay safe with that.
TOP THREE LASERS
If you have type 1 type 2 skin, or in other words you’re Caucasian, 755 diode or 810 diode will be suitable for you.
So, if you’re going to play it safe I’ll say 810 diode.
Today, there are lots of companies that makes a great diodes, and these are best:
- 810 diode for me is number one,
- 755 ALEX is number two, and
- for someone who’s got darker skin tone, like someone who is African American, or Indian, Shri Lankan or just basically type 5 of skin type, the only laser that is safe is the long pulse 1064. So, you do not go for any other laser but that or you will burn.
Now, let’s talk about cooling systems.
Here’s my advice.
- I like the “gated theory” from Lumenis (that’s the one that sucks up the skin) because I feel no pain at all, but that’s limited by the spot size.
- The second thing is the cryogen, because that’s actually gas which protects your skin.
- The third thing is Zimmer, and that’s way down the track, because it’s basically just cold air blowing on your skin.
So remember guys, most important things for laser hear removal are: the type of laser, the laser wavelength, your skin type and the cooling mechanism, and whatever you do – don’t go for IPL (Intense Pulsed Light).