Laser depilation – facts and myths
Laser depilation (epilation) is a procedure of permanent removal of excess hair. Listen to dr. Anna Wójcik-Maciejewicz, – dermatologist and venereal disease specialist – answer the questions most frequently asked during consultations and discuss how to feel safe and comfortable during the procedure.
Laser depilation permanently removes hair – TRUE
Laser depilation is the most satisfying and efficient method for the permanent removal of hair. A series of 6-8 procedures is recommended for long-term effect. In some patients, however, reminder procedure is recommended about 1 year after the treatment To eliminate isolated hairs which might have grown on the skin in that period.
The procedure requires preparation – TRUE
Hair should be shaved off one day before the procedure to reduce the risk of irritation. Three weeks before the procedure, patients should discontinue removing their hair using forceps, wax, or depilators. Any medications (e.g. antibiotics) and other products which might cause photosensitization, should be discontinued at least one week before the scheduled procedure. Herbal products and dietary supplements which may contain herbal ingredients should also be discontinued before the procedure; the duration of discontinuation should be determined on a case-by-case basis with the consulting specialist. Sweat gland blockers should also be discontinues at least one week before the procedure.
Aspirin, ibuprofen, vitamin E, and anti-inflammatory drugs should be discontinued one day before the procedure and for one day after the procedure.
Products containing tretinoin, α-hydroxyacids, and vitamin C derivatives should be discontinued two days before the procedure and for two days after the procedure.
Skin should be clean and free of any skin balms, self-tanning creams, etc. Tanning if prohibited for 4 weeks before the procedure, as it might result in complications such as skin burning.
Skin may look healthy (no irritations or burning) after the procedure – TRUE
Thanks to the novel SHR™ technology of state-of-the-art lasers, the delicate epidermal layer remains intact while the laser exerts its effect on hair pigment alone.
There are certain contraindications for the procedure – TRUE
Absolute contraindications include history of keloids, isotretinoin treatment within last 6 months, pregnancy, use of photosensitizing medications (e.g. St. John’s wort, tetracyclines, thiazides, captopril), lupus erythematosus or photosensitivity of other etiology.
Laser depilation is harmful for skin – FALSE
The procedure is considered safe. Thanks to the SHR technology, the laser light interacts directly with the hair follicle while the surrounding tissues remain intact. Thus, laser may be used in sensitive areas such as bikini, armpits, or the upper lip.
All lasers are equally effective – FALSE
Not all lasers available at the market are equally effective. They can be classified according to different parameters such as wavelength, pulse duration, or beam penetration depth. These parameters determine the efficacy of epilation.
One procedure is enough – FALSE
A series of procedures is required due to the different rates of hair growth in different areas of skin. The procedure destroys hair follicles at the growth (anagen) phase. Depending on location, the percentage of anagen phase follicles ranges from 30% within the torso to 80% within the scalp. The laser has no effect on hair in the transition (catagen) or resting (telogen) phase. Therefore, complete removal of hair usually requires a number of procedures; the exact number is determined on a case-by-case basis by the specialist. Usually, the series involves 6 to 8 procedures.
The procedure may be performed only on dark hair – FALSE
While the ideal candidate for photoepilation is a subject with bright skin and dark hair, state-of-the-art lasers facilitate removal of hair of any color. The efficacy and the number of procedures is determined by the hair color (i.e. the quantity of melanin in the hair bulb). Higher number of procedures is recommended for lighter hair.
Laser depilation is a time-consuming procedure – FALSE
The duration of the procedure depends on the area to be treated; however, the state-of-the-art in-motion technique facilitates maximum shortening of the procedure. Depilation lasts about 20 minutes for armpits and about 30 minutes for the bikini area. Removal of leg hair takes a little longer, i.e. about 1 hour.
Tanning is allowed after the procedure – FALSE
In order to avoid potential adverse reactions (e.g. discolorations), it is recommended that any exposure to sunlight be postponed by at least 2 weeks. During this period, protection against sunlight should be increased, for example by using SPF>30 products.
Laser depilation is only for women – FALSE
Excessive body hair is problematic not only for women. An increasing number of men makes the decision to undergo a depilation procedure to keep up with the times. Active lifestyle (swimming, cycling, diving, bodybuilding), stress, aesthetic reasons and easier hygiene are only some of the reasons behind the decision to perform laser depilation.
Laser depilation is painful – FALSE
Older types of lasers hight have caused discomfort, irritation, and sometimes pain. Today, however, pain experience was reduced by modern technology. Depending on individual pain threshold, patients may experience some discomfort, but it is usually limited to slight burning and increasing warmth. Novel lasers are usually used without any analgesic agents. Before making the appointment, patients should make inquiries regarding the type of the lases as this would have impact on their comfort during the procedure.