With swimsuit season just around the corner, many people are looking for a body with smooth skin and free of hair. For some, the thought of getting rid of hair permanently, and never having to think about shaving, or waxing again is a dream come true. Laser Hair removal is one way to get rid of that unwanted hair and keep it away. Before you book that first appointment, there are some things to consider.
What is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser Hair removal is a noninvasive treatment that uses a pulse of laser light or infrared radiation (IR), that passes through the skin to target the pigment in the hair follicle. The pulse produces enough heat to damage the follicle, which prevents the hair from growing back. Results can last 3 to 6 months, but because hair grows in phases, a series of treatments spaced out over multiple weeks is needed to achieve permanent results.
Some common lasers used today are:
The Nd:YAG – This is a long pulse laser, and it can be used safely on all skin types, including Fitzpatrick 6. It is not as effective on lighter or finer hair.
The Diode – The diode laser is effective for treating individuals with light and dark skin.
The Alexandrite – This laser is the fastest of the laser types and works best for treating larger body areas among patients who have light-to-olive complexions.
How Does it Work?
The lasers target the dark pigment, or melanin, in hair. The light energy concentrates in the hair shaft and destroys it, but does not damage the surrounding skin or follicle. This is why laser hair removal tends to work best on people with darker hair, and lighter skin. It is best to have a consultation with a trained technician who can advise you on the best laser treatment option for your skin tone.
It is essential that the laser delivers a small bandwidth of light that destroys the hair follicle but does not damage the skin around it. Because laser hair removal devices are powerful machines, The Canadian Dermatology Association recommends only undergoing laser hair removal after a consultation with a licenced technician.
Is It Permanent?
Laser hair removal is a permanent way to stop hair production, as long as the right type of hair is treated, at an appropriate setting, by a trained technician. With repeated treatments, most of the thicker coarser hair on an area can be removed, but lasers do not remove 100% of the hair, and cannot remove finer hair.
New hair can sometimes develop in new areas because of changes in hormones, medical conditions, or age. These will require new treatments to remove them, but the hair should grow in finer and lighter than it was before.
Is It Painful?
The sensation of laser treatment is often described as the slight snap of a rubber band
Most skin care experts will tell you that laser hair removal isn’t completely painless.
- There is a prickly feeling as the laser targets the hair follicles, and the heat is transferred to the hair shaft and surrounding skin.
- It has been described as the feeling of a rubber band snapping against the skin with each pulse, but many users describe the sensation as no more painful than waxing.
- With lasers, the pain doesn’t last and is only felt when the laser hits the skin.
- Many lasers also have cooling attachments that help absorb the heat and cool the surrounding skin during treatment.
Does The Clinic Treat Your Hair or Skin Type?
Because the infrared radiation in lasers targets and damages pigmented tissue (hair follicles), best results occur when the hair being removed is darker than the individual’s skin tone. It is not possible to treat hair that is red, white, blond, or grey, because there isn’t enough pigment for the laser to target. It is also harder to treat individuals with darker skin tones. There are many new lasers available such as the ND:YAG that are safe for dark skin tones, but it is best to book a consultation with a dermatologist, or skin care expert to find out if the lasers they have available are right for your skin tone.
Is your Technician Well Trained?
Lasers used for hair removal are powerful devices, and although Health Canada does not regulate laser hair removal, it does recommend that all employees using the devices be properly trained in their use, educated about risks and offered protective gear.
It is also vital to ensure your technician is well trained and experienced in using the laser. If the treatment is done by someone who is not experienced, side effects can include:
- Bruising and Swelling
- Burning or Irritation
- Discoloration of the Skin (which may be permanent).
- Darkening or lightening of tattoos
- Freckle loss or lightening of moles
How To Get Ready For Your First Appointment
- Shave – Though it sounds counter-intuitive, it is a good idea to shave a few days before your laser treatment. This helps the laser focus in on the pigment of the hair follicle instead of singing the hair on your skin. It is crucial NOT to wax, tweeze, or bleach your hair for up to one month before a session. The laser needs an intact root to effectively destroy the hair.
- Stay Out of the Sun – You should avoid tanning and extended sun exposure for at least three weeks before and after treatment and use a sunscreen. Having laser treatments with a tan can put you at risk for skin discolouration.
- Skip the Lotions and Skin Care Treatments – You should arrive at your appointment with clean skin, and do not apply lotions or creams. Some skin care products can react with the laser treatment, and could cause rashes or discoloration. Prescribed products like Retin-A should be avoided for two to four weeks before treatment.
- Avoid Light Sensitive Medications and Antibiotics – If you have an infection and are taking antibiotics, it is a good idea to wait to have a laser treatment. Other medications make your skin more sensitive to UV light and could increase your risk for blisters or discolouration. Talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking before starting treatment.
How Much Does it Cost?
The price of hair removal depends on the body area you are treating, the amount of hair you want to get rid of, and the amount of time it takes. Usually, the smaller the area (upper lip, chin, under arms), the lower the cost. Ultimately the cost of laser hair removal is more affordable over time than other hair removal methods, and you will have smooth skin permanently. Speak with an expert skin care technician who can advise you on the cost of your optimal laser treatment plan.
What To Expect at a Treatment
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
- The number of treatments needed is determined by the growth rate of your hair and on the area being treated. The majority of clients need an average of six to eight treatments for full permanent hair removal.
How long does one treatment take?
Smaller body areas, such as the face or underarms, can take only a few minutes for an entire treatment. Larger areas such as legs or the back can take up to an hour.
It is essential to attend every treatment – It can be tempting to skip a treatment when you start to see results, but it is important to follow through with all scheduled sessions for permanent hair removal.
For more information on laser hair removal treatment in Toronto, contact Clarity Medspa and Laser at (416) 960-2222. Our skin care experts will give you a one-on-one consultation in a warm, safe medical grade environment and determine the laser treatment that is right for you.