by Marshaneil Soumi D’ Rozario | 18th Feb, 2019
Unwanted hair growth is a common aesthetic problem. Common methods of hair removal include Waxing, Shaving and use of Epilators. However, these techniques can be painful, need to be repeated often, and their effects last for just a few days after the procedure. LASER hair removal promises to be a permanent painless solution, and has emerged to be one of the most requested aesthetic procedures in recent times. Owing to the simplicity and demand for the procedure, a large number of 'Laser Clinics' have mushroomed in the last few years. However, due to low-quality machines and inadequately trained staff performing these procedures, the results have been inconsistent, and Laser Hair Removal has fallen into disrepute. Hence there is a need for adequate research and knowledge of certain facts before venturing out and spending your hard-earned money for these procedures. Dr. Shraddha Deshpande, Cosmetic Surgeon, Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai Central, discusses everything you need to know before a Laser hair removal
Lasers work on the principle of Selective Photothermolysis, and their target chromophore is melanin. In simple words, the darker the hair, the more effective is the treatment. That is one of the reasons why it isn't as effective on fine hair like sideburns or upper lip in females. The word Laser generates a certain intrigue and fear in the minds of people. The newer technologies like COOL TIP function have made LASERS much less painful than waxing or threading, and the experience can be comparative to snapping a rubber band. For certain delicate areas like Bikini, a numbing cream can also be applied before the procedure, to alleviate the pain.
Waxing and epilation will remove the root of the hair bulb on which our LASERS need to act, and thereby the treatment will be ineffective. So when you are planning to start the procedure, you need to stop waxing for at least one month to allow full growth and for better results. The most important thing to understand is that it is not a single stage procedure and requires at least 6-8 sessions. One of the biggest mistakes people commit is not completing the necessary amount of sessions. Compliance and patience is a must to see great results.
Before going for the procedure, it is important to know which type of machine is going to be used.
LASERS commonly used for hair removal include-
1. RUBY LASERS- Wavelength 694nm. This is suitable for hair removal in Skin types 1 to 3 according to the Fitzpatrick grading system.
2. Alexandrite LASERS- Wavelength 755nm Greater penetrance- suitable for Fitzpatrick 1 to 3.
3. Diode LASERS- Wavelength 810nm penetrates deeper with less epidermal damage. Skin types- 1 to 5.
4. ND-YAG LASER - 1064 nm. Skin types- 1 to 6.
5. IPL- Intense pulse light- non-coherent light (500 to 1200 nm)
Out of these systems- ND-YAG, Diode, and IPL are the most commonly used systems for the Indian Skin type. Diode LASERS are considered to be the gold standard for hair reduction worldwide. It is also essential to determine if the systems are US-FDA approved or not, as that is one of the strictest barometers for quality control and to ensure a consistent result. Quality comes at a cost. It is important to avoid extremely cheap offers for hair removal, as they might be using low-quality machines to cut costs which may not give a consistent result.
LASERS do not work for all indications. The causes for unwanted hair growth can be multi-factorial. Hormonal irregularities, PCOD are some of the commonest causes. Without treating these causes, LASER hair removal will not give optimum results and there will be a recurrence. Hence a medical consultation is a must, before embarking upon this procedure. It is not a Salon based, but a clinic-based procedure.
Beware of the side effects and use sun protection:
· LASER treatment can produce an exothermic reaction causing erythema, blistering and minor burns.
· Use of icepacks post-procedure can alleviate the effects.
· LASER hair removal should be avoided during active skin infections.
· It is important to use Sunscreens with SPF more than 30 while undergoing the treatment.
LASER hair removal, when performed for the right indications, right duration and using the right energy source, can indeed be a convenient solution for today's generation.
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