- 1 What is laser hair removal?
- 2 After all, what are hair follicles?
- 3 How does laser hair removal work?
- 4 Types of laser equipment
- 5 Pulsed light and laser hair removal: what’s the difference?
- 6 Homemade laser hair removal
- 7 Who can do laser hair removal?
- 8 When to do it?
- 9 What areas of the body can be treated?
- 10 Benefits
- 11 Disadvantages
- 12 What happens during the session?
- 13 Pre and post hair removal care
- 14 Results
- 15 Side effects
- 16 Scratchs
- 17 Contraindications
- 18 Which professional is able to do it?
- 19 Price
- 20 Common questions
- 20.1 Is laser hair removal permanent?
- 20.2 Is the application painful?
- 20.3 Why should sessions be repeated?
- 20.4 If I have few hairs, can I extinguish them in the first session?
- 20.5 Does laser hair removal help to lighten the skin?
- 20.6 Are dark-skinned people more at risk of having skin blemishes?
- 20.7 Laser hair removal ends with folliculitis?
- 20.8 If using bleach, does the laser not work?
- 20.9 Can men do laser hair removal? What is the difference?
- 20.10 Can people who have tattoos do it? Is there any contraindication?
- 20.11 How do I know the ideal type of laser?
What is laser hair removal?
Laser hair removal is one of the most effective alternatives when it comes to hair removal, being considered a little invasive procedure.
It consists of the use of high temperature laser equipment that promotes controlled radiation in the hair follicles. The purpose is to damage these structures, delaying hair growth.
Laser devices appeared in 1970, the first of which were considered ineffective, painful and limited.
In 1983, Anderson Parrish developed the concept of selective photothermolysis, which allowed the procedure to be performed with more precision. Its use, however, was only allowed in 1997, being used until today in the removal of hair.
Selective photothermolysis is authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA or USFDA), the United States federal agency responsible for the Department of Health and Human Services.
Deconstructing the word, it has the following meaning: photo = light, term = temperature and lysis = destruction.
The light energy from the laser (which releases electromagnetic radiation) is directed to specific points on the skin – in this case, the hair follicles -, for an established period, promoting their destruction.
It is estimated that 35 milliseconds is enough to damage the follicles without reaching the adjacent skin regions.
This type of method is more advantageous than the razor blade, creams and tweezers, as it has greater durability. In addition, the treatment is effective in both small and large areas.
Although it is also known as permanent hair removal, the method does not guarantee that hair will not return . Several sessions in the treated area are necessary to obtain a good result.
Hair follicles are responsible for the appearance of hair or hair and are located in the dermis (skin layer). They have, within their structure, the hair shaft and each one of them produces and makes hair grow.
Its appearance is similar to that of a tube, but its final structure is wide and rounded. In this region is the hair bulb or root of the hair, as it is also known, that manufactures and shares the germ cells, charged with the growth of the hair.
The laser is nothing more than light concentrated at a certain frequency. It is the concentration and intensity of light that allow it to be considered a laser and fulfill functions in our daily lives.
In the case of hair removal, it is quite simple:
- The hair removal device emits light (laser) at a certain point;
- The light is absorbed by the melanin (protein responsible for pigmentation) of the hair, causing it to heat up at temperatures above 60 ºC;
- The sudden increase in temperature causes the germ cells and hair producers (hair follicles) to die, ensuring that they no longer grow hair.
It is also for this reason that the treatment works best for people with light skin and dark skin. The light used in the laser hair removal device is absorbed by dark materials and reflected by lighter materials.
When the hair is dark and the skin too, the laser is absorbed by the two structures, causing the device to lose its effectiveness. On the other hand, when the skin is clear and the hair is both, both reflect the light emitted by the device, also reducing effectiveness.
The ideal is that there is a high contrast between the person’s hair and skin, that is, that the skin is light and the hair is dark. This way, the laser will not have many effects on the skin, since it will reflect most of the light, but it will have a great action on the hair, which will absorb most of it.
This 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.
On the market, there are several options with regard to laser equipment. Good results in the treatment depend on the choice of the correct laser, which have different functions. The most used are:
Considered one of the most pleasant, Alexandrite is based on the crystal of the same name. It converts the laser into thermal energy.
The equipment unites a gas with the device, cooling the place, which prevents burns on the skin. In addition, during the procedure, collagen (protein of animal origin that gives skin stiffness) is granted. Its treatment is effective in all regions.
It is more used in light skin, being contraindicated for dark and tanned skin, 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, making it suitable for black people.
The Soprano XL, Milesman Premium and Light Sheer equipment fall into this category.
Treatment with Soprano XL is not very painful, requiring many sessions to reach the expected result. The application is made by means of 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 close to the hair bulb that are in different phases. During the sessions, hair removal is done effectively. All skin types can receive treatment.
Milesman Premium can be used on light or dark skin. Like Alexandrite, it freezes the skin. Your session is fast due to multiple beams of light in short time intervals.
The energy is directed only at a wavelength to the follicle. The red light sent by the light beam is efficiently absorbed by the melanin.
Regarding pain, it is less compared to waxing.
The Light Sheer line has two modalities, the Light Sheer ET and the Light Sheer Duet. The first is recommended for smaller regions and the second for larger ones. In addition, the device helps to soften the impacts of folliculitis (inflammation of the follicles).
Light Sheer ET
There are no contraindications as to the type of skin, and the Light Sheer ET can be used even on tanned and black skins.
Light Sheer Duet
Light Sheer Duet sessions are faster than other models available on the market. The method favors the elimination of hair in places on the body that bring some discomfort, such as the back.
The device employs vacuum technology in conjunction with the diode, which reduces the effects on the skin’s surface layers and allows pain to be almost nonexistent.
Ideal for fine hair and with little pigmentation, Ruby Laser releases a beam of red light with continuous shots. For some professionals in the field, this method is outdated. It is usually recommended for people with fair skin.
Neodimio Yag, commercially named Gentle Yag, is the most suitable for areas with thicker hair. In light yarns, the effectiveness is low.
Because it has a greater reach in the follicle, the sessions can hurt more. It is not suitable for very tanned skin.
The equipment does not leave marks on the body. The person can also be exposed to the sun the next day.
The main difference between pulsed light and laser hair removal is in the wavelength used by the machines. While in the laser the light arrives concentrated in one point, the pulsed light emits more scattered rays of light.
This causes the intense pulsed light to reach the hairs superficially, not eliminating them, but weakening them. The pulsed light treatment lasts an average of 2 years and, in general, is more painless. Its efficiency is greater in fine, blond and red hair, in large numbers and dispersed.
The laser, in turn, as it is more concentrated and intense, acts by destroying the hair and the hair follicle, making the duration of the results longer than the competitor. It also hurts more in relation to pulsed light and works best on light skin with dark, thick hair.
There are a variety of equipment that allow 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 a lower power.
They can only be used by people with white skin and dark hair. The treatment does not work on people with light or white hair and, in the case of people with black skin, it is possible that the device will cause burns.
The device is not cheap at all. Its price can vary from R $ 300.00 to values much greater than R $ 1,000.00. It can be a good choice for people who do not want to spend so much in the clinics, however, it is very important that, before making any investment, you talk to your dermatologist and check if this is an option for you.
Although it seems easy and practical, laser hair removal is not a 100% safe procedure, it can cause burns and unwanted side effects, such as reaction hypertrichosis, which is when they grow more hair due to the stimulation of heat on the skin.
Therefore, before making an investment, take some precautions such as:
- Talk to the dermatologist;
- Check if the chosen device is registered with Anvisa;
- Check the power of the light and the contraindications;
- Do not apply the product on tanned skin;
- Do not use the product if you are using photosensitizing drugs;
- Do not apply the product several times in the same place, respecting the recommended interval between applications.
In addition, you must check all application safety instructions contained in the device so that you are not at risk.
For the Food and Drug Administration , laser hair removal devices used at home are cosmetic and not medical, meaning that they do not have the same tests performed on medical devices.
There are not yet very in-depth studies comparing the effectiveness and safety of domestic lasers with laser hair removal performed in specialized clinics. However, the reduction of hair, in this case, happens in a measured way.
Healthy people, who do not have chronic diseases and who are over 18, are able to perform laser hair removal. The only exception are people who have white, red and blond hair.
In these cases, the amount of melanin present in the wires is too small for there to be a good response to the treatment. But, even so, it is still possible to do it, only that these people must be willing to spend a little more, as more sessions will be necessary in order to achieve a satisfactory result.
There are no impediments for individuals of brown, mulatto or black color, as modern devices have a mechanism for regulating the length and intensity of light, allowing these people to be able to perform the procedure without running the risk of stains.
Hair growth has 3 phases: anagen (growth), catagen (intermediate) and telogen (rest). In the 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 in the anagen phase, when the accumulation of melanin is greater and the hair has more contact with the formation 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 areas suitable for receiving laser treatment are:
- Groin (bikini area);
- Face (minus the eye area).
For those who want to perform laser hair removal, it is important to know if this method will meet all expectations. Some of the advantages are:
Treatment is more effective if compared to other methods.
Laser hair removal can be performed on areas of the body and face.
Lasers specifically target the hair root, 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, can receive less than 1 minute of session. Large areas, such as the back and legs, can take up to 1 hour.
Recovery time is minimal or non-existent.
Delay in the appearance of new ones by
As laser equipment damages hair follicles, it takes longer for new hair to appear. In addition, the ones that grow again are thinner and clearer than the previous ones.
It is seen as a little painful procedure in parallel with other means of hair removal.
Reduces the chances of bacterial infections
The diode laser, for example, is a non-aggressive technique, which reduces the chances of having a bacterial infection. In addition, it provides greater agility, accuracy and safety.
Improves skin appearance
Laser treatment makes the skin smoother and smoother. It also contributes to the lightening and reduction of spots and freckles on the skin, in addition to fighting folliculitis (infection of the follicles).
Despite so many benefits, it is necessary to pay attention to the limitations of the laser procedure.
The value of each session is variable. Several sessions are necessary to achieve a satisfactory result.
The procedure works best on people with fair skin and dark hair.
Appearance of new follicles
The method targets only active hair, which does not prevent the appearance of new hair follicles, produced naturally by the human body.
The laser device will be regulated 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 locations of the body to be reached.
During the procedure, everyone in the room must wear special glasses to protect themselves from the laser beam. If necessary, an assistant can scrape the site again.
The professional will place the device on your skin. Depending on the laser used, a cold gel can be used in order to protect the skin and avoid possible side effects.
It is normal to experience discomfort, similar to 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 must be taken to avoid complications and ensure good results.
Before the procedure
Before scheduling your session, you must:
Avoid sun exposure
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 blood-dissolving drugs
Medicines such as aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs dissolve the blood and should be avoided before laser hair removal begins in order to prevent bleeding.
Shave the area with the razor blade
It is suggested that the hairs are shaved with the razor blade the day before the treatment. Hairs on the surface of the skin can be burned and cause slight lesions on the skin, leaving the hair shaft intact below the surface.
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. In addition, if the skin is infected, epilation should not be performed.
After the procedure
Normally, the person can return to their activities immediately without any hindrance. In the first few hours after the session, the skin may be red and swollen.
Some precautions must be followed to avoid possible complications and ease discomfort:
- In the first 3 days after the session, avoid exposing the treated body part to the sun;
- The aloe vera gel can be useful to relieve discomfort after treatment, using it in the treated area for 2 to 4 days. Black people may be more sensitive, so the aloe vera gel can be used for a longer period;
- Apply cold compresses, as they relieve sensitivity and swelling, in addition to helping with healing;
- Avoid cosmetics and creams on the treated places, as they can 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 develop in several phases, it takes more than one session to achieve the desired result.
According to the Mayo Clinic (American organization of medical and hospital research and services), in general, laser hair removal requires 2 to 6 sessions. The intervals between them depend on the treated area.
On the upper lip, where hair develops faster, for example, treatment can be carried out in 4 to 8 weeks. In the back, where growth occurs more slowly, the treatment can be repeated in 12 to 16 weeks.
As the sessions progress, the hair becomes thinner and lighter, in addition to growing in smaller numbers. According to AAD, the reduction of hair 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 customer 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 type of skin, color of the hair, the treatment option and pre and post treatment care. The most common ones involve:
- Skin irritation and discomfort;
- Follicular edema (swelling of the follicles);
These implications usually disappear within a few hours.
The risks are considered low for the laser procedure. They understand:
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 treatment.
Skin pigmentation changes
Pigmentation changes, such as hypopigmentation (loss of skin color) and hyperpigmentation (abnormal skin darkening) are some of the dangers that laser hair removal can bring.
The people most affected are black women and those who were exposed to the sun before and after treatment.
Burns are rare events, which can occur due to the misuse of the equipment.
Direct or indirect contact with the laser can cause eye damage, which is why there is a need to use special glasses during the session.
Infections happen when the skin is already damaged, which can be caused by fungi, bacteria or viruses.
Other risks include aging of the strands affected and excessive hair growth around treated areas, especially in dark skin.
Reactive or paradoxical hypertrichosis happens when there is a misuse 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 try to perform laser hair removal with specialized professionals.
People with cancer , skin diseases , pregnant women , or with injuries at the location receiving treatment should not perform this type of hair removal. Women who are breastfeeding can do so without any restrictions.
Other contraindications involve:
Diabetes is a disorder characterized by an increase in glucose (sugar) in the blood. When uncontrolled, it can result in changes in skin sensitivity.
Also known as high blood pressure , hypertension occurs when the force exerted by the blood against the artery wall is greater than normal.
In this way, blood pressure reaches a value equal to or greater than 14 by 9. If the condition is not stabilized, there may be a pressure spike.
The seizure causes involuntary muscle contractions throughout the body or in a specific region. The starting point is the excess of electrical activities in certain points of the brain.
Laser hair removal is contraindicated for epileptics, as it can generate an epileptic seizure.
There is no definition in the legislation of the professional qualified to perform laser hair removal, as long as he has an EPL (training) or laser course. However, consulting a dermatologist before starting treatment is recommended.
In order to define the best method to be employed, the specialist may 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, as well as reviews during the treatment.
The ideal is to choose a location you already know or a professional you trust.
The amount to be charged is related to the professional’s experience, number of sessions, location and size of the area to be treated. The cost can vary from R $ 100.00 to R $ 1,000.00, depending on the session and the number of treated areas.
To clarify the most frequent doubts on the subject, the beautician Ana Flávia da Silva helped us to answer some questions:
Is laser hair removal permanent?
Laser hair removal is not definitive , but a gradual treatment that aims to cauterize the hair root. With the proper treatment, the laser can remove most of the coarse hair, but it does not have the same result with finer hair.
In addition, the results depend on the shaved area, the number of sessions and the type of equipment used.
Is the application painful?
The application is not painful . The sting is a heat felt in the region. The light emits a heat on the skin that is what the client feels during the application, being very bearable by the vast majority of people. However, people who are more sensitive 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 maintain the results obtained during treatment.
If I have few hairs, can I extinguish them in the first session?
No . If the region to be treated has few hairs, the probability that the treatment will be longer is greater, because the greater the amount, the thicker and darker the hairs are, the faster they will react. The smaller the amount and the lighter the hair, the longer the treatment will take.
Does laser hair removal help to lighten the skin?
Epilation with laser or pulsed light helps to lighten the skin. Depending on the region, the skin returns to 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 a lot from one person to another. Some achieve total whitening and some just soften.
Are dark-skinned people more at risk of having skin blemishes?
Dark-skinned people are more likely to stain their skin. This is due to the amount of melanin concentrated in the skin.
Both pulsed light and laser cannot differentiate skin from hair if you have a lot of melanin in both, so the incidence of burns and blemishes on brown skin is higher. Always consult a dermatologist .
Laser hair removal ends with folliculitis?
The best treatment for folliculitis without a doubt is laser hair removal. As the treatment eliminates the hair, folliculitis and stains caused by ingrown 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 was without the melanin. The hair that is out is the conductor to reach the root of the hair. If the conductor is discolored, the light will not be able to reach the root.
Can men do laser hair removal? What is the difference?
Men can do sessions. However, as testosterone is at higher levels in your body, treatment tends to be a little longer, especially in the beard region. That’s because the hormone favors the appearance of hair.
Can people who have tattoos do it? Is there any contraindication?
People who have a tattoo cannot receive the laser on or near the tattoo, as it is a pigment. The flash of light will understand it as a hair, smudging and burning the tattoo.
How do 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 it varies a lot from one organism to the other. Regarding melanin, the person always needs to make an assessment before starting the treatment, to see if the hair reacts or not.
Laser hair removal is one of the most effective alternatives in hair removal. Although considered by many to be permanent, this technique damages existing hair follicles, but does not guarantee that new ones will not appear.
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