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Laser hair removal is used for the permanent reduction of unwanted hair anywhere on the body. Lasers work for hair removal by selectively targeting the dark pigment in the hair which absorb the laser energy down to the hair root, converting laser energy to heat with the heat destroying the root of the hair. Ideally, this is done without affecting surrounding skin.
Can dark skin benefit from laser treatments?
The ideal candidate for laser hair removal is one with very light colored skin and very dark hair. However, with the evolution of laser technology and a wide myriad of lasers now available, individuals without this ideal profile have been able to benefit from laser treatments too. For individuals with dark skin and dark hair, the NdYAG laser has been used for hair removal with great success.
A laser machine is a powerful tool that carries a lot of risk with its use. Laser hair removal is a medical procedure that requires training. Before getting laser hair removal, ensure you check the credentials of the doctor or technician performing the procedure to ensure they have adequate training to perform it.
Before the laser procedure, plucking, waxing, tweezing should be avoided 6 weeks prior. The hair can shaved with a shaving stick or trimmed on the morning of the procedure. 4 to 6 weeks before we place our patients on depigmenting creams and sun protection of at least SPF 30 – this is continued after the procedure. We apply a numbing cream 45mins to an hour before the procedure to minimize pain and use ice packs during the procedure to further minimize pain or discomfort. Our aim to get effective results with minimal discomfort.
What are the side effects of laser hair removal?
Possible side effects in skin of color especially are redness, swelling, scarring and blisters. Permanent scarring and discoloration are very rare. The incidence of side effects is lowered significantly by the expertise and experience of the laser operator.
Lasers emit non-ionizing radiation so it doesn’t harm the fetus, growing children etc. However, we always err on the side of caution, we don’t perform laser procedures on pregnant women or children.
Laser hair removal is repeated every 4 to 6 weeks, for 8 to 10 sessions. A few people might require more and a few others less sessions.
Is laser hair removal permanent?
Yes and No. More recently the terminology has changed from permanent laser hair removal to permanent laser hair reduction. Hair grows in phases. At any point in time, some of your hairs are actively growing, some are resting and some are in between growth and rest. Only the actively growing hairs are affected by the lasers, this is why you need several sessions to get to almost all the hairs at their active growth phase. By the time 8 to 10 sessions of lasers are done, 70 to 80 % of the hairs have been removed.
Overtime, new hair follicles develop on our bodies, so new hair that wasn’t present at the time of the treatment will grow. Hormone imbalances, pregnancy, reactions to medications, resistance to insulin can make new hair follicles develop as well. For this reason, we recommend a maintenance treatment once or twice a year to keep the hair away. For a few people, the supposedly treated hair follicles could still grow hair. But even when this happens, the regrown hair is fine, thin and lighter in color, less of a nuisance than the original thick hair was.