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Laser Hair Removal

January 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Bikini Wax Tips

No patient or operation is quite the same and so you may find that not everything below will apply
to you. Nonetheless we hope that these answers to common questions and worries are helpful.
Please ask you doctor or nurse if you are unclear about anything.
How does the laser treatment work?
The laser we use for hair removal is called an Alexandrite laser. Lasers work by delivering an
intense beam of light that is absorbed by the skin. This light is converted to heat and is absorbed
by the cells being targeted (hair follicle), while leaving the surrounding tissue unaffected. Laser is
used to control hair growth, but the results are never permanent.
Due to the cycles of hair growth multiple laser treatments are required to provide long lasting
reduction in hair growth, as the laser will only damage the follicles in the growth phase. It is difficult
to predict individual responses as many factors are involved: the thickness of hairs, different sites
on the body, hormonal differences, darkness of hairs and how strong laser light can be tolerated.
However, in general the hair-free intervals gradually lengthen and the regrowth becomes sparser
and finer.
What are the risks and benefits of having laser treatment?
Laser treatment may make the underlying skin colour darker or lighter. Any darkening (due to
formation of brown pigment) usually fades over 6-12 months. If the skin is made paler, this may be
permanent. The risk of pigmentation is greater with darker skin tones and tanned skin, which is
why we can only offer laser hair removal to lighter skin types with no tan.
Blistering and crusting of skin sometimes occurs. If this happens, you must not pick or scratch the
area to avoid permanent scarring.
The laser beam will damage eyes if viewed directly without protection.
Is there any preparation I need to know about?
You must avoid bleaching, plucking or waxing the hair for 4-6 weeks before treatment. The
melanin containing hair must be present in the follicle as it is the ‘target’ for the laser light. We
know this may be difficult for you, but it is important for good results. If you shave, it is best to
shave 2 days before treatment.
Avoid the sun for 4-6 weeks before and after treatment, and during any treatment courses. You
may develop hypopigmentation (white spots) after treatment if skin is tanned. The use of selftanning
products must be discontinued one week before treatment.
If you wear make up on the treatment area, please bring along the lotions to remove it. Treated
skin must be clean and dry.
What happens before treatment?
When you arrive you will meet the member of staff treating you. This may be a nurse or a doctor.
They will explain the treatment for you, and obtain a written consent from you unless this already
has been done on previous clinic visits.
Photographs may be taken of the area to be treated so that progress can be monitored. These will
be kept in your hospital notes.
Local anaesthetic may be used if necessary for children. If so, this needs to be applied about 1
hour before treatment for it to have time to take effect.
The skin in the area to be treated is cleaned and shaved before starting. The laser practitioner will
choose the right treatment parameters for you and calibrate the laser machine.
What happens during treatment?
You and the laser practitioner will wear safety eyewear to protect your eyes from the laser light.
Your practitioner will guide the laser to the treatment areas with a small handpiece. Each laser
pulse may be preceded by a short pulse of cooling spray. A treatment can take as little as a few
minutes to as long as an hour, depending on the size of the area being treated. Often the strength
of the laser pulse is changed depending on the reaction on skin and patient comfort.
Each pulse of light feels like the flick of an elastic band. Most patients do not find the treatment too
painful. Local anaesthetic cream can be used if you find it too painful and a general anaesthetic
can be offered to children.
What happens after treatment
Immediately after the treatment, there will be redness and swelling on the treatment site which
may last up to 2 hours or longer. Some people describe it as like being sunburnt. The redness
may last up to 2 days. The area can be cooled using cold compresses. Aloe vera gel is also
applied to the lasered area.
What to expect once home
You can continue applying aloe vera gel or non-scented moisturiser to soothe any irritation. Treat
the area gently, as if you had sunburn, for the first 24 hours. You may resume use of your usual
creams/lotions/make-up once the irritation stops. Avoid exercise for 24 hours after treatment.
Avoid sun exposure to reduce the chance of dark pigmentation. Always use sunblock (SPF 30 or
higher) throughout the course of your treatment. If you do not follow this advice, you may suffer
burning, blistering, scarring and permanent pigment changes.
Avoid picking or scratching the treated skin. Do not pluck, wax or use any other hair removal
methods apart from shaving for 4-6 weeks after treatment. The hairs in the treated area will start to
shed after 2 weeks, and if you wish you can gently exfoliate the area to remove them.

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