Laser Hair Removal Treatments
Unwanted and excess hair can be a problem for men and women, but is easily treated with laser hair removal, Elos or IPL.
Whether it is bikini line, underarm, chin, upper lip or shoulder and back we have permanent laser hair reduction that works. Excessive hair growth, also called ‘hirsutism’ can occur in both men and women, but is more noticed in women. Palm Clinic offers permanent hair reduction using state-of-the-art equipment like Coolglide Excel Laser, IPL and Elos Aurora.
A free consultation with our laser nurses; Anita Todd and Rachael Murray will take you through the procedure and give you a treatment plan with costs for laser hair removal.
Causes of excessive hair growth
- Genetic factors can cause excessive hair growth. The dense growth of hair beyond the normal limits for a particular age, sex or race is called hypertrichosis.
- Endocrine disorders. Excess androgen (male) hormones in women make the terminal hairs thicker and heavier.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome.
- Hair growth can increase by medications in the form of hormonal injections, steroids and also by oral contraceptives.
- Ethnicity and familial history.
Types of Hair
- Hairs are of two types, ‘vellus hairs’ and ‘terminal hairs’. Vellus hairs are short, fine, non-pigmented hairs that do not respond to hormones.
- Terminal hairs are long and coarse with the pigment melanin, which respond to hormones. In the case of baldness in men, terminal hairs shrink and transform into vellus hairs.
Hair Removal Methods
Since its approval by the FDA in 1997, as a safe and effective method for removing unwanted body and facial hair, laser hair removal has become the most popular cosmetic treatment across the globe. Laser hair removal for permanent hair reduction is largely replacing temporary methods such as waxing and shaving.
Bleaching causes irritation as it is a chemical treatment. Tweezing of hair is restricted to a small area of hair growth like the eyebrows. In cases of excessive hair growth on the chest and lower back in men and chest and abdomen in some women, these temporary methods of hair removal may not work well. Professional hair removal techniques include electrolysis and laser hair removal which eliminate hair re-growth in the treated area permanently.
Electrolysis, though popular for permanent hair removal, is a tedious and invasive process, which causes discomfort and a topical anaesthetic may be required in some cases. Individual hairs are treated by heat or chemical energy, so it is a slow process by which only small areas can be treated at a time. Though the results of electrolysis are permanent, scarring and change in pigmentation may occur as an after-effect. A study conducted in Turkey in the year 2000 showed that laser hair treatment was sixty times faster, less painful and more reliable than electrolysis.
For successful and permanent hair reduction, the terminal hair follicles should be disabled completely preventing further hair growth. Alternatively they can be reduced to thin vellus hairs which do not pose a cosmetic problem. The growth of hair in our body occurs in recurring cycles in a mosaic pattern. At any point of time, the hair follicles are in one of three stages called Anagen, Catagen or Telogen. Anagen is the active growth stage with melanin pigment; Catagen is the stage wherein the hair neither grows nor falls off and Telogen involves the shedding of hair. Laser hair therapy targets the active hair follicles in the Anagen stage. All the hair follicles in a specific area of the skin need to undergo laser hair treatment several times before the hair growth stops entirely.
Laser Hair Removal
The underlying principle of laser hair removal is ‘selective photothermolysis’. Melanin is a dark pigment occurring naturally in the skin and is responsible for the colour of skin and hair. The laser targets the dark melanin in the hair follicle without affecting the skin. Melanin absorbs the laser energy with great speed and intensity. The light energy is converted to heat energy which destroys the hair follicle. The laser light removes only black or brown hairs due to the selective absorption of its photons.
Earlier, only dark hairs on fair or brown skin could be removed efficiently by laser but present day equipment are able to work on dark hairs in dark-skinned persons too. Not all lasers are able to be used on dark skin types; however, the long wavelength lasers like Coolglide 1064 NdYag at Palm Clinic are most suited.
Types of Lasers
Palm Clinic uses a combination of Cooglide Excel 1064 NdYag laser and Elos Aurora (which combines IPL and radiofrequency). Coolglide is used particularly for darker skin types because the long wavelength is safer in this situation. We will often use a combination of Coolglide and Elos Aurora for maximum results. There are many other types of lasers which are used in laser hair removal clinics. Diode Laser is a source of bright light for hair removal. In this treatment, high power is used which can be painful. Alexandrite laser is a short wavelength laser like the ruby laser. This laser is highly absorbed by melanin and delivers more energy to the light and fine hairs. But excessive absorption by melanin may lead to blistering and Alexandrite lasers are not generally suitable for darker skin types.
Merits of Coolglide Laser:
- Coolglide laser can remove hair from all parts of the body including sensitive areas like the nipples and bikini line.
- The cooling head of the laser enhances safety and comfort as it glides along the skin.
- Less painful than most other hair removal treatments.
- Coolglide’s longer wavelength enables it to treat all skin types unlike other lasers which best treat light skins with dark hair.
- Safe procedure with least damage to the skin.
- No local anaesthetic is used but in certain cases, some patients may opt for a topical anaesthetic for hair removal in sensitive areas.
- Treats larger body areas in a very short time due to its large spot size and quick delivery of laser energy. Quick treatment also means less cost.
- Marked delay in hair re-growth.
- You can return to your normal activities soon after the procedure.
Duration of treatment:
Normally, four to eight sessions will be required. Lighter and finer hairs may need more sessions. The treatment will have to be done every two months or whenever there is growth of new hair in the treated area till the growth stops. Due to the growth of hair in cycles, active new hair growth will be seen which will have to undergo the same procedure.
Duration of results:
In some cases, there has been no hair re-growth for more than two years at the treated part. However, over a period of time, with changes in the body like hormonal changes, new hair growth may occur.
Safety features of laser:
- The infra red light that is used is safe and does not produce any harmful after-effects like cancer.
- It does not reach the deepest parts of the skin to cause any harm, though it affects the follicles a few millimeters beneath the skin.
- It damages only the follicles to be treated and does not affect the other areas of the skin as the laser light is carefully controlled.
- Sensitivity of patients to laser light should be tested before the procedure.
- Laser light is harmful to the eyes, so protective goggles must be worn by the laser operator and the patient.
- Laser energy levels should be carefully checked to avoid burns.
Side effects of laser:
- Generally laser treatment has no lasting side effects but potential side effects will be dicussed with you prior to treatment.
- Swelling and redness around the hair follicles may sometimes be seen but it will resolve within a day.
Side effects of IPL or Elos:
- Hyperpigmentation is possible particularly with darker skin types.
- In very rare instances, scarring, blistering and bleeding at the treated area may occur.
- In rare instances, blistering may occur.
You may consult your Palm Clinic professional for advice on the benefits and risks of laser energy for hair removal. Points to note:
- Recently tanned skin should not be exposed to laser light.
- Waxing and plucking should be stopped well before the procedure.
- Perfumes, deodorants, talc or moisturisers containing sunscreen should be avoided on the day of treatment.
- Exposure to sun may be restricted to avoid adverse effects.