Laser hair removal: Does it work? What to expect from the long-lasting treatment

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Laser hair removal is a technique that uses pulses of laser light to destroy hair follicles. It became commercially available in 1995 and is now a common method in removing hair for long periods of time, unlike waxing and shaving. But what can you expect from laser hair removal treatments? Shanelle Blake, senior consultant at Pulse Light Clinic, told everything you need to know.

How long does a laser hair removal treatment last?

Treatment times depend on the area of the body that’s being treated.

Blake explained: “Each area can vary depending on the size of the area. Time will vary from 25 minutes for a small area to two hours if you are getting a full body treatment.

“This gives us time to prepare the area with lines, and clean up the area post treatment, clients are surprised that the time it takes for the laser treatment itself can be over quickly.”

These treatment may take the following:

  • A bikini line – 25 minutes
  • Brazilian – 25 minutes
  • Armpits – 25 minutes
  • Facial hair – from 15-40 minutes
  • Leg hair – from 25-50 minutes

How many treatments do you usually have to have?

Eight sessions will usually give you up to 80 percent reduction of hair growth, said Blake, but this is dependent on the area.

She added: “Lower legs usually require 8 sessions whereas the face may require 12-20+ treatments due to hormones.

“All areas need top-up sessions to finish the areas off.”

Are there any side-effects?

There are usually no side-effects from laser hair removal treatments, but Blake advises it’s normal post treatment to see bumpy skin, which usually goes down within a few hours.

It is important to attend a clinic with trained laser professionals, she warned.

“Laser hair removal can rarely result in red skin, skin pigmentation, burns.”

How long after the first session can you begin to see results?

Following a laser hair removal treatment, the hair growth slows considerably, and it usually takes two to three weeks at which point the dead hair begins to shed (fall out).

“New hair follicles will then grow, which are usually less coarse,” explained Blake.

“After the second laser treatment, depending on skin and hair type, the area can already begin to look patchy as certain hair follicles stop producing new hairs.

“After four to six treatments the hair should be significantly reduced, and after eight sessions, we can achieve up to 80 percent reduction.”

What must you make sure you do between treatments and in-between treatments?

Do not tweeze, wax or pluck the area being treated between or prior to sessions, said Blake, only shave the area.

Blake added: “On the face we request you leave the area between sessions so we can closely monitor the progress for you and use the best settings as the hair can get very light and thin quickly. The body is fine to shave if you see any growth.

“The area cannot be treated if it has been exposed to sun within four weeks prior to treatment. Fake tanning products cannot be used three to four weeks prior to treatment; the area should be thoroughly exfoliated to remove all residues.

“Factor 30/50 must be worn on the area daily or the area has to be sufficiently covered with clothing to prevent UV exposure (Invisible Zinc is great for sensitive skin).”

Does laser hair removal last forever?

Most clients can expect 80 percent hair reduction with the recommended course and top up treatments as long as the interval is maintained, said Blake.

Does laser hair removal take longer if your hair is thicker?

Laser hair removal gets to the root of the problem – literally, according to Blake.

She explained: “The laser targets the hair follicle and the number of treatments will not differ if hair is thicker. The number of treatments you require is usually assessed at your consultation with the senior laser specialist, where they will do a patch test and assess your results as the treatment process goes on.

“If you have hormonal hair you will still see great results, but more frequent top-ups will be needed.”

Does it take longer if your hair is darker?

Laser hair removal works most effectively  with darker hair colours on light skin tones.

“The laser technology targets the hairs melanin, which means the hair colour can reduce the appearance of hair on the skin,” said Blake.

“Compared to other hair removal methods such as shaving, thick and dark hairs can often result in ingrown hairs, sore areas and rashes, and regrowth is noticeable.”

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