Laser hair removal is one of the most effective alternatives when it comes to hair removal, and is considered a minimally invasive procedure.
It consists of the use of equipment to high-temperature lasers that promote controlled radiation in the hair follicles. The intention is to damage these structures, delaying the growth of hair.
The laser devices appeared in 1970; the first ones were considered ineffective, painful and limited.
In 1983, Anderson Parrish developed the concept of selective photothermolysis, which allowed the procedure to be performed more accurately. Its use, however, was only allowed in 1997, being used until today in the removal of hairs.
Selective photothermolysis is authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA or USFDA), the federal agency of the United States, responsible for the Department of Health and Human Services.
Deconstructing the word, it presents the following meaning: photo = light, term = temperature and lysis = destruction.
The laser’s light energy (which releases electromagnetic radiation) is directed to specific skin spots – in this case, the hair follicles – for a fixed period, promoting the destruction of them.
It is estimated that 35 milliseconds are enough to damage the follicles without reaching the adjacent dermal regions.
This type of method is more advantageous than the razor, creams, and tweezers because it has greater durability. Also, the treatment is effective in both small and large areas.
Although it is also known as permanent waxing, the method does not ensure that the hairs do not return. It takes several sessions in the treated area to get a good result
The hair follicles are responsible for the appearance of hairs or hair and are located in the dermis (layer of the skin). They have, within their structure, the fine wire and each of them produces and grows hair strands.
Its appearance is similar to that of a tube, but its final structure is broad and rounded. In this region is the hair bulb or hair root, as it is also known, which manufactures and shares germ cells, charged by the growth of the wire.
The laser is nothing more than concentrated light at a certain frequency. They are the concentration and intensity of light that allows it to be considered a laser and perform functions in our day to day.
In the case of epilation, it is quite simple:
- The epilator emits light (laser) at a certain point;
- The light is absorbed by the melanin (the protein responsible for the pigmentation) of the hair, causing them to warm up to temperatures above 60 ºC;
- The sudden increase in temperature causes the germ cells and hair cells (hair follicles) to die, ensuring that they do not grow more hairs.
It is also for this reason that the treatment works best with people with fair skin and the dark. The light used in the laser hair removal apparatus is absorbed by dark materials and reflected by lighter materials.
When the hairs are dark and the skin too, the laser is absorbed by the two structures, causing the device to lose effectiveness. On the other hand, when the skin is clear and the hair too, both reflect the light emitted by the device, also reducing effectiveness.
The idea is that there is a high contrast between the skin and the person’s skin; that is, the skin is clear and dark. That way, the laser will not have many effects on the skin, since it will reflect most of the light, but will have great action on the hair, which will absorb most.
It does not mean that there are no laser treatments for people with darker or lighter skin. In these cases, a different and special light frequency is used, but the results are not so guaranteed.
In the market, there are several options for laser equipment. Good results in the treatment depend on the choice of the correct laser, which have different functions. The most used are:
Considered as one of the most pleasant, the Alexandrite is based on the crystal of the same name. It converts the laser into thermal energy.
The equipment attaches a gas to the appliance, cooling the area, which prevents burns on the skin. Also, collagen (a protein of animal origin that gives stiffness to the skin) is given during the procedure. Its treatment is effective in all regions.
It is more used on light skin, being contraindicated for dark skin and tan, due to the chances of burns.
More common in Brazil, the diode laser is more advanced and safer than Alexandrite. The laser penetrates deeper into the hair follicle and is suitable for black people.
The equipment Soprano XL, Milesman Premium and Light Sheer fall into this category.
Treatment with Soprano XL is painful, requiring many sessions to achieve the expected result. The application is made using a concentrated beam of light. The hair root is reached in seconds.
Its method is more time consuming since it is necessary to reach the cells near the hair bulb that are in distinct phases. During the sessions, the hair removal is done effectively. All skin types can receive treatment.
Milesman Premium can be used on light or dark skin. Like the Alexandrite, it freezes the skin. His session is quick due to several shots of a light beam in short intervals of time.
The energy is directed only at a wavelength to the follicle. The red light sent by the light beam is absorbed efficiently by the melanin.
About pain, it is smaller compared to waxing.
The Light Sheer line has two modes, the Light Sheer ET and the Light Sheer Duet. The first is recommended for smaller regions and the second for larger ones. Also, the device helps to alleviate the impacts of folliculitis (inflammation of the follicles).
Light Sheer ET
There are no contraindications to the skin type, and Light Sheer ET can be used even in tan and black skins.
Light Sheer Duet
Light Sheer Duet sessions are faster than the other models available on the market. The method favors the elimination of hairs on body locations that bring some discomfort, such as the back.
The device uses vacuum technology in conjunction with the diode, which reduces the effects on the layers of the skin surface and makes the pain almost non-existent.
Ideal for fine hairs and low pigmentation, the Ruby Laser releases a red light beam with continuous shots. For some professionals in the field, this method is outdated. It is usually recommended for people with fair skin.
Neodimio Yag, named commercially as Gentle Yag, is best suited for areas with thicker hairs. In light wires, the effectiveness is low.
Because it has a greater range in the follicle, the sessions can hurt more. It is not recommended for very tan skins.
The equipment leaves no marks on the body. One can also expose himself to the sun the next day.
The main difference between pulsed light and laser hair removal is the wavelength used by the machines. While in the laser the light arrives concentrated in a point, the pulsed light emits scattered rays of light.
This causes the intense pulsed light to reach the hairs superficially, not eliminating them but weakening them. The treatment with pulsed light lasts in average 2 years and, in general, is more painless. Its efficiency is greater in fine hair, blond and red, in large numbers and dispersed.
The laser, in turn, being more concentrated and intense, acts by destroying the hairs and the hair follicle, making the duration of the results greater than the competitor. It also hurts more over pulsed light and works best on light skin with thick, dark hairs.
There is a variety of equipment that allows you to do laser hair removal at home. These devices are weaker than those of conventional clinics, that is, for safety reasons, these devices have lower power.
They can only be used by people with white skin and dark skin. The treatment does not work in people with light or white hair and, in the case of people with black skin, the device may cause burns.
The handset is not cheap at all. Its price can vary from R $ 300,00 to values well greater than R $ 1,000.00. It may be a good request for people who do not want to spend as much in clinics. However, it is essential that, before making any investment, you talk to your dermatologist and make sure this is an option for you.
Although it seems easy and practical, laser hair removal is not a 100% safe procedure, which can generate burns and unwanted side effects, such as reactive hypertrichosis, which is when they grow more hairs because of the stimulation of the heat in the skin.
So before investing, take some care like:
- Talk to the dermatologist;
- Verify that the chosen device is registered with Anvisa;
- Check light potency and contraindications;
- Do not apply the product on tanned skin;
- Do not use the product if you are using photosensitizing medicines;
- Do not apply the product several times in the same place, respecting the recommended interval between applications.
Also, it is necessary that you check all the safety instructions of the application contained in the apparatus so that it does not take any risk.
For the Food and Drug Administration, laser hair removal devices used at home are cosmetic rather than medical, meaning that they do not have the same tests performed on medical devices.
There are not yet many in-depth studies comparing the efficacy and safety of laser lasers with laser hair removal in specialized clinics. However, hair reduction, in this case, happens in a measured way.
Healthy people, who do not have chronic diseases and are over 18, can perform laser hair removal. The only exception is people who have white, red and blond hair.
In such cases, the amount of melanin present in the strands is too small for a good response to treatment. But even so, it is still possible to do, but these people must be willing to spend a little more because more sessions will be necessary to achieve a satisfactory result.
There does not impede individuals of brown, mulatto or black color, since the modern apparatuses present a mechanism of regulation of the length and intensity of the light, allowing that these people can carry out the procedure without running the risk of stains.
Hair growth has 3 phases: anagen (growth), catagen (intermediate) and telogen (rest). At first, the hairs are closer to the wall of the hair follicle. In the following steps, the hairs are further apart.
Therefore, it is preferable that the procedure is performed still in the anagen phase when the accumulation of melanin is greater and the hairs have more contact with the formations of the hair follicle, which facilitates its elimination.
This explains the need to operate the applications at different intervals for each area.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), which represents, in short, the majority of dermatologists working in the United States, as well as those in other locations, the appropriate areas to receive the laser treatment are:
- Groin (bikini area);
- Face (except the eye region).
For those who wish to perform laser hair removal, it is important to know if this method will meet all expectations. Some of the advantages are:
The treatment is more effective if compared to other methods.
Laser hair removal can be performed on body and face areas.
The lasers specifically target the root of the hairs, ensuring that the surrounding skin is not affected.
The duration of the laser pulse corresponds to a fraction of a second and can reach many wires at the same time.
Small areas, such as the upper lip, may receive less than 1 minute of sitting. Large areas, such as back and legs, can take up to 1 hour.
The recovery time is minimal or non-existent.
Delay in the appearance of new hairs
As the laser equipment damages the hair follicles, so the appearance of new hairs is more time-consuming. Also, growers are thinner and clearer than previous ones.
Not too painful
It is seen as a painless procedure in parallel to other means of hair removal.
Reduces the chances of bacterial infections
A diode laser, for example, is a non-aggressive technique, which reduces the chances of having a bacterial infection. Also, it provides greater agility, accuracy, and safety.
Improves skin appearance
Laser treatment makes the skin smoother and smoother. It also contributes to bleaching and reducing blemishes and freckles on the skin, as well as fighting folliculitis (follicle infection).
Despite the many benefits, it is necessary to pay attention to the limitations of the laser procedure.
The value of each session is variable. It takes several sessions to achieve a satisfactory result.
The procedure works best for people with fair skin and dark skin.
The appearance of new follicles
The method reaches only the existing hairs, which does not prevent the appearance of new hair follicles, produced naturally by the human body.
The laser device will be adjusted according to the color of the skin and the wire, thickness, and region to be treated. The duration of each session varies according to the body locations to be reached.
During the procedure, everyone in the environment should wear special glasses to protect themselves from the laser beam. If necessary, a wizard may scratch the site again.
The professional will place the appliance on the skin. According to the laser used, a cold gel can be used to protect the skin and avoid possible side effects.
It is normal to feel discomfort, like a sting. When the session is over, the patient may receive ice packs, creams, anti-inflammatory lotions or cold water to ease any discomfort.
Some measures should be taken to avoid complications and ensure good results.
Before the procedure
Before scheduling your session, you should:
Avoid exposure to the sun
Do not expose the area to be treated in the sun for 6 weeks before and after treatment. The use of sunscreen should be daily. Exposure to the sun’s rays impairs the efficiency of the laser, in addition to favoring possible complications.
Avoid other hair removal techniques
Plucking, waxing or using electrolysis can damage the hair follicle. Therefore, methods like these should be avoided at least 4 weeks before treatment.
Avoid medications that dissolve blood
Medications like aspirin and anti-inflammatories dissolve the blood and should be avoided before beginning laser hair removal to avoid bleeding.
Shave the area with the razor blade
It is suggested that the hairs be shaved with the razor the day before the treatment. The hair on the surface of the skin can be burned and cause slight lesions on the skin, leaving the hair shaft intact below the surface.
Take care of the skin
Using certain types of creams can darken the skin, so it is desirable to avoid them. In situations of tanning or darker skin, the doctor may prescribe a whitening cream. Also, if the skin is infected, epilation should not be performed.
After the procedure
Normally, the person can return immediately to their activities without any impediment. In the first few hours after the session, the skin may become red and swollen.
Some precautions should be followed to avoid possible complications and to ease discomforts:
- In the first 3 days after the session, avoid exposing the treated part of the body to the sun;
- Aloe vera gel may be helpful in relieving uncomfortable post-treatment by using it in the treated area for 2 to 4 days. Black people may present more sensitivity so that the aloe vera gel can be used for a longer period;
- Apply cold compresses, as they relieve the sensitivity and swelling, besides helping in healing;
- Avoid cosmetics and creams on treated sites, as they may cause skin irritation;
- Avoid saunas, hot tubs, steam or intense activities that generate sweat for 2 days. Sweating stimulates melanocytes (melanin-producing cells), culminating in hyperpigmentation;
- Wash the treated area carefully due to the sensitivity of the skin;
- Wear sunscreen daily.
Hair will stop growing for days or weeks. As they evolve in several phases, it takes more than one session to achieve the desired result.
According to the Mayo Clinic (US medical and hospital research and services organization), laser hair removal typically requires 2 to 6 sessions. The intervals between them depending on the treated area.
In the upper lip, where the hairs develop faster, for example, the treatment can be performed in 4 to 8 weeks. In the back, where growth occurs more slowly, treatment can be repeated in 12 to 16 weeks.
As the sessions progress, the hair becomes thinner and lighter, and grow smaller. According to the ADA, hair reduction is 10% to 25% even in the first session. This percentage tends to increase gradually, but it is also variable.
It is very likely that the client will need occasional maintenance after the initial series with the laser treatment. It is a guarantee that the hair follicles do not regenerate.
The side effects will depend on the skin type, yarn color, the treatment option, and pre and post-treatment care. The most common involve:
- Irritation and discomfort in the skin;
- Follicular edema (swelling of the follicles);
Usually, these implications disappear within a few hours.
The risks are considered low for the laser procedure. They include:
Changes in skin texture
Blisters, scabs, and scars can occur due to contact with the laser. The scar can also arise from an infection contracted after the treatment.
Changes in skin pigmentation
Changes in pigmentation, such as hypopigmentation (loss of skin color) and hyperpigmentation (abnormal skin darkening) are some of the dangers that laser hair removal can bring.
The most affected people are black women and those exposed to the sun before and after treatment.
Burns are rare events that may occur due to misuse of the equipment.
Contact directly or indirectly with the laser can cause eye damage, therefore the need to use the special glasses during the session.
Infections happen when the skin is already injured and can be by fungi, bacteria or viruses.
Other risks include aging of strands stricken and excessive growth of hairs around treated regions, especially in dark skins.
Reactional or paradoxical hypertrichosis happens when there is a poor use of the laser hair removal machine. Due to the heat generated by the machine, the skin of the region around the removed hair begins to produce new hair follicles, causing an increase in the number of hairs, a result contrary to what is sought with laser hair removal.
This reaction is much more common and frequent when the procedure is not done by doctors, so always seek to perform laser hair removal with specialized professionals.
People with cancer, skin conditions, pregnant women, or those injured on the spot receiving treatment should not perform this type of hair removal. Women who are breastfeeding can do so without any restrictions.
Other contraindications include:
Diabetes is a disorder characterized by increased glucose (sugar) in the blood. When uncontrolled, it may result in changes in the sensitivity of the skin.
Also known as high blood pressure, hypertension occurs when the force exerted by the blood against the artery wall is greater than normal.
As a result, the blood pressure will measure a value equal to or greater than 14 by 9. If the frame is not stabilized, there may be a peak pressure.
The Epilepsy is a disorder of functions of the nerve cells of the brain, resulting in seizures.
The seizure causes involuntary muscle contractions throughout the body or in a specific region. The starting point is the excesses of electrical activities at certain points in the brain.
Laser hair removal is contraindicated for epilepsy, as it can lead to an epileptic seizure.
There is no definition in the legislation of the professional qualified to perform laser hair removal, provided that he has an EPL (training) or laser course. However, consult your dermatologist before starting treatment is recommended.
To define the best method to use, the specialist can use the following criteria:
- Medical history, such as the use of medications, diseases or scars on the skin and hair removal procedures applied previously;
- Discuss risks, benefits, and expectations;
- Photos to be used to monitor the effectiveness, in addition to revisions during treatment.
Ideally, choose a place you already know or a professional you trust.
The amount to be charged is related to the professional experience, a number of sessions, location and size of the area to be treated. The cost can vary from $ 100 to $ 1,000, depending on the session and the number of areas treated.
To clarify the most frequent doubts on the subject, the beautician Ana Flávia da Silva helped us answer some questions:
Is Laser Hair Removal Definite?
Laser hair removal is not definitive, but rather a continuous treatment that aims to cauterize the hair root. From the proper treatment, the laser can remove most of the coarse hairs, but it does not have the same result with the finest hairs.
Also, the results depend on the depilated area, the number of sessions and the type of equipment used.
Is the application painful?
The application is not painful. The bite is a warm feeling in the area. Light emits heat on the skin which is what the client feels during the application, being well tolerable by the vast majority of people. However, people with more sensitivity to pain can use anesthetics to avoid discomfort.
Why should sessions be repeated?
Throughout our life, our own body will produce new follicles because of protection. You will need maintenance sessions to keep the results obtained during treatment.
If I have fewer hairs, can I extinguish them in the first session?
Not at all. If the region to be treated has few hairs, the likelihood of the treatment being longer is greater because the larger the amount, the thicker and darker the hairs, the faster they will react. The smaller the amount and the clearer the hair is, the treatment will be more time-consuming.
Does laser hair removal help lighten the skin?
Laser hair removal or pulsed light helps to lighten the skin. Depending on the region, the skin returns to a normal tone.
The skin is no longer exposed to other methods that attack and darken it, with this we achieve the whitening of the region, varying greatly from one person to another. Some achieve total whitening, and some only soften.
Are dark skinned people more at risk for blemishes?
Dark-skinned people have greater chances of spotting their skin. It is due to the amount of melanin concentrated in the skin.
Both pulsed light and laser can not differentiate skin from the hair if it has too much melanin in both, so the incidence of burns and blemishes on brown skin is greater. Always consult a dermatologist.
Does laser hair removal end with folliculitis?
The best treatment for folliculitis without a doubt is laser hair removal. As the treatment eliminates the hairs, folliculitis and blemishes from engorged hairs are also extinguished.
If using bleach, does the laser not work?
If you use bleach, it does not work, as it is as if the hair were without the melanin. The hair that is out is the driver to get to the root of the hair. If the driver is discolored, the light will not be able to reach the root.
Can Men Do Laser Hair Removal? What is the difference?
Men can have sessions. However, as testosterone is at higher levels in your body, the treatment tends to be a little longer, especially in the beard area. It is because the hormone favors the appearance of hairs.
Can people who have tattoos do it? Is there any contraindication?
People who have tattoos may not get the laser on or near the tattoo because it is a pigment. The flash of light will understand it as a fur, blurring and burning the tattoo.
How will I know the ideal type of laser?
It is not possible to determine the ideal type of laser for each person because in terms of results varies significantly from one organism to another. About melanin, the person always needs to evaluate before starting the treatment, to see if the hair reacts or not.
Laser hair removal is one of the most effective hairs removal alternatives. Although considered by many to be permanent, this technique damages existing hair follicles but does not guarantee that new ones do not arise.
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