This story was updated in February 2019.
In our quest to be permanently fuzz-free, thanks to technological progress, aka Laser Hair Reduction, we can rid ourselves of those periodic waxing/shaving hassles. This method of permanent hair reduction has come a long way since its introduction in the 1960s. It has been refined to suit the needs of diverse skin and hair types. It is a safe and effective method of hair reduction that is performed under the supervision of a skin care specialist, as the frequency and intensity of laser sessions are determined by the specialist upon careful scrutiny and evaluation of the skin and hair type.
But before taking the plunge to make oneself almost eternally hair-free, it is crucial that we understand the nuances and implications of the process. We answer ALL your questions about laser hair reduction.
In simple terms, it is the process of using laser light to destroy the hair follicles in your skin and reduce the growth of hair. It is a slow and steady process, it takes time and a good amount of money so consider it a long term investment. This process was in its experimental stages for about twenty years until it became commercially available in 1995. Now, it is easy to find a skin clinic in every street that is ready to perform laser hair removal at a reduced price. However, it is a tedious and specialised process that needs expertise, which is why I am about to address all the questions you have about the procedure, and also recommend places where you should book an appointment right away!
Despite the tall claims of most aesthetic centers, laser slows down hair growth but does not completely remove it. Hair may regrow upon passage of time due to factors such as hormonal changes etc. But the thickness of regrowth is definitely lesser than it would have been without laser treatment. While the reduction in hair growth is substantial enough so people can often go months or years without almost any hair growth, the inevitable fact is that over the years, due to hormonal changes etc., there is a distinct possibility of the hair growth returning. Manage your expectations accordingly to avoid disappointment because hair removal and reduction are two different things.
While all laser hair reduction techniques promise a pain-free experience, it isn’t entirely true. The sensation experienced is akin to a rubber band snapping on your skin followed by some slight redness and tenderness which usually subsides within a day or two. Post-treatment cooling potions are often prescribed to calm the skin. The pain factor is dependent on various factors such as:
Skin type: Dry skin tends to hurt more.
Time in between sessions: The longer the time, the more likely it is to hurt.
Body part: Fleshy body parts such as the thighs tend to hurt lesser because of the presence of fat and muscle which act as a shield. Bony areas are, therefore, bound to hurt more. Often, a topical anesthetic cream aka numbing cream is used on sensitive areas to ease the pain. Also, pain is generally the highest in the first couple sessions and almost minimal in following sessions since hair growth reduces significantly with every session. Less hair equals less pain.
It does not work on skin that has been sunburned or tanned. It is best to avoid excessive outdoor activities before and whilst undergoing laser. The best option would be to undergo laser hair reduction in the cooler months. Moreover, since the skin is already sensitive from the laser, it is best to avoid direct sunlight for at least 48 hours post a session.
Any form of hair removal involving pulling the hair from the follicle and bleaching is a strict NO when undergoing laser. The laser targets the pigment in the hair follicle and if we yank it out/bleach it away, there isn’t any left to target and it will, therefore, fail. Shaving is the only option to remain fuzz free during the entire course of the permanent hair reduction treatment as the follicles are still intact.
Hair follicles have their own growth cycle and in order to get the best results from the laser, it is absolutely imperative that these sessions are spaced out in a timely manner. Sessions spread out every 4-6 weeks (depending on the hair growth) often yield the best results.
Dark, thick hair follicles are the easiest to treat, while, light, fine hair can be tricky. There is a different laser designed for each type of hair and the frequency of the laser beam differs based on the colour of skin/hair and thickness of hair. It is crucial that you get all the information from your physician prior to the hair reduction treatment so that your expectations are managed and adequate precautions are taken. If your hair is too fine then they may even advise you not to try it as it may not work effectively on such hair.
While one can try to manage ingrowths with regular exfoliation, laser hair reduction works like a charm to give the best possible results. Since ingrowths are caused by hair that grows into the follicle causing an unsightly black bump, laser kills the follicle so that there is no hair that can clog your pores. It may not treat the problem entirely but most specialists believe that this may be the most effective long term treatment for ingrowths.
Undergoing laser hair removal comes with a considerable amount of side-effects. Stepping into the treatment for the first time, not knowing how your skin is going to react and going for the face first is not recommended. If you have had laser hair removal done on your body before, then you can speak about getting the laser treatment done on your face with your doctor. However, remember that it works best with dark and thick hair, so there are certain dangers of choosing to get it done on your face.
Getting your eyebrows done isn’t recommended in most cases because it is too close to the eye and can cause damage. Apart from the side-effects that arise with laser hair removal in general, there is no specific damage that can be done to the face.
The average cost of laser hair removal in India is Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,000 per session, depending on which center you pick. Remember, that the number of sessions required depends on the quality of your hair, the thickness and your skin colour. The average is 4-6 sessions and may take longer for sensitive areas or areas with a lot of hair growth.
The best way to go about a laser treatment is to meet a dermatologist first and discuss what type of laser would suit your skin and hair type. It is not an overnight procedure and requires a lot of care afterward. Which is why I picked the most established centers in the country which have recommended doctors and high success rates.
VLCC has centers across India and a specific ‘Dermat’ section so you can meet a good dermatologist and a ‘Laser’ section of the grooming center designed for laser hair removal. You can also book a session online via their website.
Kaya does not just cater to laser hair removal treatment, it also has a skin and hair clinic which looks into problems like pigmentation, bald patches, and skin discoloration. However, their laser treatment packages are sought after and though they may be a little expensive compared to the rest, it is worth the price.
While they do have body sculpturing and hair solutions, their laser hair removal treatments are quite famous. Pocket-friendly and trustworthy, if you have a Dermatech around you then this should be your first choice.
With 16 centers across the country, this clinic offers hair and skin care solutions. Their laser hair removal facilities are one of the best in the country and they also have some great laser treatments for hyperpigmentation and other cosmetic skin care solutions.
From Lasik eye treatment to invisible braces and laser hair removal, Max Healthcare has different Beauty packages available to meet your needs with their highly skilled team of dermatologists.
Botox, plastic surgery and laser hair removal, Apollo Life, a part of Apollo Hospitals is a dedicated section for all your cosmetic needs. They also have a dedicated page for all medical queries that need to be addressed before going into the procedure.
Undergoing any cosmetic treatment has its own set of risks and side effects that you should be mentally prepared for before you chose to go through the procedure. In the case of laser hair removal treatment, here are a few side effects that may occur.
Since laser treatment aims at damaging the follicles on your skin to stop the hair growth, it is in the process irritating your skin. This may lead to redness of the skin, followed by slight-swelling immediately after a laser session. However, it is not permanent and often subsides within a few hours, similar to what your skin experiences after you get it waxed.
It is a common side effect after your laser session, especially if the frequency has been increased recently. Usually, it is in the form of minor crusting that may lead to scars and scabs if you don’t take care of it. While it is caused by dryness in most cases and can be solved by a simple moisturiser, you can consult your dermatologist if it persists for longer than a day.
Sometimes a slight change in the skin colour may be experienced. Light skin tones may go a shade darker and darker skin tones a shade lighter. However, these changes fade over time and the skin retains its natural colour.
This point is important for those who want to get laser hair removal done for their eyebrows. Since it is so close to the eye, damage to the nerves in your eye is a possible side effect. Most doctors do not recommend any laser treatment around your eyes.
It is important to pick a safe and hygienic clinic for your laser hair removal because if the equipment used is not clean, then it increases the risk of skin infections. If you see any sort of bruising, burn or unnatural rash on your skin, you should immediately show it to a doctor. Do not apply any creams on it without consulting your dermatologist first.
There are a few things that occur if you do not pick a qualified technician to carry out your laser hair removal treatment. You can suffer from burns, scars or blisters that may not naturally go away without medical attention. This is why it is important to pick a center with a panel of doctors, preferably a skin clinic.
However, as someone undergoing this treatment, you also have certain responsibilities to maintain your skin and follow the guidelines that the doctor has given you. Failing to carry this out may also result in skin damage. These were the few laser hair removal side effects.
When you’re shooting laser beams into your skin and essentially burning the hair follicle, you ought to take adequate measures to protect your skin. Here are a few non-negotiable steps to follow.
- Using sunscreens and moisturizers is necessary to protect your skin from the heat. Ideally, you should be avoiding being exposed to direct sunlight immediately after your laser hair removal.
- Avoid using harsh exfoliators, alcohol-based products, certain essential oils etc. as they aren’t safe for use on skin that has been treated with laser.
- Consult your dermatologist to ensure that any topical treatments you may be using do not interact with the results of the hair reduction procedure or increase skin sensitivity.
YES! A little patience goes a long way in being satisfied with the results. It is totally worth the effort, pain, time and money that goes into it because it essentially means you can wear anything, at any time without having to worry about unsightly fuzz. Laser hair reduction helps in giving the skin a smoother appearance, especially for those prone to ingrowths and enlarged pores on the body. Plus, you won’t have to deal with those monthly waxing sessions like before. Think of it as an investment in yourself that will reap lifelong dividends.
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