There are many options available on the market for removing unwanted hair, and laser treatments are one of the most popular and effective methods for a variety of reasons. Before you make a schedule for a laser treatment session, understand the possible benefits and risks, along with what you can expect from the treatment.
1. The Science Behind Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is performed by using a device that releases pulses of infrared radiation that passes through the skin. This is absorbed by the melanin present in the roots of the hair. Heat is then produced to destroy targeted hair follicles. Infrared-emitting radiation is typically used because the heat they produce destroys hair using photothermolysis, a selective damage mechanism. This means that thermal damage to the hair occurs when it absorbs the laser energy, but other tissues (such as the skin) are left unharmed.
The effectiveness of whether laser hair removal depends on a variety of factors:
- The colour of the skin and hair of the person being treated
- The training, skill, and experience of the technician
- The characteristics of the device such as the wavelength, power settings, time
- between pulses, the duration of each pulse, and the number of pulses administered per treatment
- The body part being treated
- The number of treatments administered
For hair removal treatment to be effective, the infrared radiation must be able to penetrate the skin with minimal absorption and arrive at the hair root to be absorbed by the melanin of the hair shaft. Due to this, it is easier to treat people with fair skin and dark hair. As hair grows in phases, many people may require repeated treatments to achieve permanent hair reduction.
The kinds of lasers usually utilized in laser hair removal clinics are the diode, alexandrite, and Nd:YAG.
2. How To Prepare For Laser Hair Removal
Before making an appointment, research the clinic where you want to have your laser treatment. Schedule a consultation with one of the experts in the clinic to set your expectations and discuss important details including previous hair removal treatments, your medical history, and the benefits and risks of the procedure. After your initial consultation, discuss the treatment plan and cost. The technician might also give you instructions on how you can prepare for your laser hair removal appointment, including:
- Shave or trim the area to be treated – This will help the laser to hit the root of the hairs instead of burning off the surface hairs on the skin. However, because the root of the strands need to stay intact for the laser to effectively destroy the follicles, avoid bleaching, waxing, and tweezing at least one month before your scheduled appointment.
- Avoid tanning – Avoid exposure to the sun for at least six weeks before your appointment. If you have a tan, you might have to wait until it fades before you can start your laser treatment. Talk with your skin care specialist if you have concerns about your tan.
- You might need to switch up your skincare routine – You may need to avoid certain skincare products. Do not use products like glycolic acid and retinol cream at least two days before and after your scheduled session.
- Clean your skin – On the day of your appointment, clean the skin of the area that is being treated. Do not wear makeup, lotions, or creams of any kind. If you’re wearing deodorant, this will have to be removed before the treatment begins.
- Wear appropriate clothes – Choose to wear clothes that are light and loose or will leave the treated area exposed as tight clothes will feel uncomfortable, especially since your skin will be relatively sensitive right after the treatment.
3. What To Expect During The Procedure
Before the procedure begins, the technician might trim the hair off a few millimetres above the surface of your skin. The laser device will then be adjusted according to the appropriate settings depending on the thickness, colour, and location of the hair being treated. Depending on the type of laser used, both you and the technician may have to wear protective eyewear. The technician may also apply a cooling gel to help the light penetrate the skin better.
The technician then tests the settings by giving a pulse of light to the treatment area and watch it for several minutes to be sure that the best settings are being used.
After the procedure, the technician might give you anti-inflammatory lotions or creams, ice packs, or some cold water to ease discomforts, if any. You can schedule your next session at least four weeks after. The clinician will help determine the best timelines for your next visit.
4. The Benefits Of Laser Hair Removal
Laser therapy is one of the most successful hair reduction treatments available on the market. Here are some benefits of opting to undergo a laser hair removal treatment over other procedures:
- No ingrown hairs – Unlike most other hair removal procedures like waxing, epilating, and threading, laser hair treatment does not pose the risk of ingrown hair or razor burns. Laser hair treatment may even improve ingrown hair.
- The procedure is fast – While how long the treatment takes depends on the area treated, the process is generally quick, and you will likely notice results within a few weeks.
- No need to wait for hair to grow out – When you opt for laser treatments in managing your body hair, you can remain relatively hair-free while waiting for your next appointment as you don’t need to wait for hair to grow to a certain length before you can schedule a session.
- It is very cost-effective – Once you complete your laser hair removal treatments, you no longer need to spend money on waxing sessions, razors, hair removal creams, and other hair removal treatments. While the initial cost may be relatively heavy, the amount you save over your life might be enough to cover the cost of treatment.
5. Potential Risks In Laser Hair Removal
There are minimal risks involved in laser hair removal treatments. However, you may notice some minor and temporary side effects after your sessions:
- There may be changes in skin colour – Some people may see slight variations in the colour of the skin on the treated area following the procedure. These changes will eventually fade, and the skin will return to normal.
- You may experience redness and irritation – Laser hair removal will damage the targeted follicles, and the body will react to this. Some people will experience redness and irritation, and the skin may tingle, feel tender, or you may experience some swelling.
These side effects are no cause for alarm. The irritations will ease some hours after the treatment, and the swelling and redness will go away after a cold bath or some ice packs.
- There may be “crusting” – Crusting is one of the minor but inconvenient side effects of laser hair removal treatment. It’s comprised of tiny scabs on the surface of the skin and can be common in people with ingrown hairs. If you do experience crusting, do not scratch at it; this could lead to scarring and scabbing. Treat the area with moisturizer (ask your clinician for your best options) to prevent permanent effects.
While most risks involved in laser hair removal are temporary, if you do notice particularly worrying symptoms or side effects that don’t go away soon, schedule a consultation with a dermatologist to identify what may be going on, and what steps can be taken to resolve the issue.
If you’re looking for a clinic that offers laser hair removal in Toronto, visit Laser Essential and Skin Care. Our clinic is open on Tuesdays to Saturdays. To make an appointment or schedule a free consultation, call us at (416) 226-0744.