Getting tired of waxing every time hair grows back? Want hairless smooth skin but don’t want the hassle of frequent waxing? Or perhaps you have hair growing at places you’d rather it did not. In such situations you might be looking for something a little more permanent. Today we talk about the frequently asked questions on laser hair reduction!
Q1. Are there any options in laser hair reduction that I need to consider?
A1. Different wavelengths of light are used to remove hair. Depending on the wavelength required different types of lasers are used. However this is a decision that your doctor makes based on your skin colour, hair colour, genetics, disease history etc.
Q2. How many sessions will I need for the complete reduction of hair?
A2. Hair grows in three phases (anagen, catagen and telogen). The laser reduction can only operate on hair follicles in the anagen phase (which have roots growing inside the follicle). As such, multiple sessions are required to remove the hair thoroughly from a part of the body. Most patients need 6 to 8 sessions for full hair reduction. Doctors recommend a gap of 4 to 6 weeks between sessions to allow your skin to recuperate and the phases to switch.
Q3. My skin colour is xyz, will hair reduction work for me?
A3. Laser does not work well on coloured hair, red hair, grey hair, white hair, as well as fine hair of any colour. This is because laser hair reduction works by targeting the dark pigmentation - melanin - in the hair. Light hair doesn’t have enough melanin to readily absorb all of the heat produced by the laser. Hence many sessions are required for light coloured skin and even then the procedure might not be successful. The best skin-hair combination for a successful hair reduction is dark hair on white skin.
Q4. Is laser hair reduction permanent or can hair grow back later on?
A4. If you follow through all the sessions, hair follicles will be permanently damaged. If you don’t go through with the required number of sessions, then some hair growth might be there.
Q5. I’ve heard your skin can get severely damaged during laser hair reduction. Is it safe?
A5. Check the doctor’s credentials before you sign up for a session. As the laser works by targeting darker pigmentation of the skin, there are almost no dangers when you have light skin and dark hair. After every part of the reduction the laser works on about an inch of the skin at a time the doctor will wait and see if any abnormal reactions take place. So, there’s no severe risks in the procedure.
Q6. I got the session, but there’s still hair on my skin. What is going on and do I need to pull it out?
A6. After your hair follicles are damaged by the laser, the hair needs two to three weeks to shed naturally. It is inadvisable to pull out the hair.
Q7. How should I prepare before the session?
A7. For six weeks before a session you should minimize sun exposure and stop any waxing, plucking or electrolysis. Waxing and plucking can cause the session to fail as the laser needs to target the hair roots to damage the follicle permanently. Plucking and waxing pulls out the root from the follicle temporarily. Those applying hydroquinone and other bleaching creams on the skin should stop a few days before the treatment starts, and anyone taking medications for acne such as Accutane, Isotretinoin, Retin-A should stop the medication six months before laser treatment. The hair will also have to be shaved before the treatment as unshaved hair can absorb the laser and cause epidermal injuries.
Q8. Are there any symptoms of recovery after the session? Anything to be wary of?
A8. Yes, the skin will look pink or red immediately after the session. This settles down once the skin has been cooled. Chemicals and sun exposure should be avoided on the lasers area for a few days post laser. Sun protection must be followed after a laser session.
Q9. Are there any side-effects or risks? How common are they?
A9. The two most common and serious side-effects are acne and skin discolouration. Permanent scarring of the skin is very rare. Your skin may get burned at some point, but it is a very extreme change. It calls for a change in how the treatment is being done. Risks are skin discolouration, acne flare-ups, infection, swelling and scab formation. Risks can be minimised by using a laser fit for your skin and hair colour.
Q10. Will it be painful and will I have to be awake during the procedure?
A10. Some pain is to be expected during the hair reduction session. Most clinics do provide numbing creams over-the-counter, although some procedures include these from the get-go. Numbing cream needs to be applied half an hour before the session. You definitely do need to be awake during the procedure.
Q11. Is Laser Hair Reduction any better than Electrolysis for hair reduction?
A11. Electrolysis is a process that has been used for more than a hundred years for skin reduction. It is a verified process and works for all skin and hair colours. However, it is very slow. Laser reduction can in comparison complete a session on an area as large as your thigh in less than an hour. Electrolysis is better if you have white or light coloured hair as laser reduction fails for this.
Q12. I have a tattoo. Can I still get hair reduction on that tattoo part of the skin?
A12. A resounding no! The dark pigment of the tattoo will absorb most of the heat from laser, which can lead to bad burns over your skin. In extreme cases, laser treatment of such areas can lead to permanent scarring. The tattoo area can however be skipped.
Q13. My skin colour is very dark. Can I still opt for laser hair reduction?
A13. Yes, you can. But for people with skin tones higher than 4 on the Fitzpatrick scale, all laser types won’t work. For dark skin types, the Nd:YAG laser is mostly used. Other lasers can cause your skin to absorb the laser, leading to burns.
You should always check the doctor’s credentials before signing up for a session. Don’t undergo the treatment if you don’t trust the clinic. And never hesitate to ask questions!
Remedico is the fastest and easiest way you can consult with a certified dermatologist. Fill a 5 minute questionnaire and we will send you a personalised treatment plan within 24 hours. Consult our doctors for your skin dullness or pigmentation now.