Laser Hair Removal: A Definitive Guide of Expectations, Myth and New Technologies
Even a quick Google search for Laser Hair Removal will bring up all sorts of conflicting advice, articles and ‘expert’ opinions about the treatment. One blog will tell you Laser Hair Removal is suitable for fairer hair, another will tell you that’s a lie. Some articles will tell you dark skin tones can be treated, while others will show you terrifying pictures of blisters or pigmentation changes.
Of course, not everything you read online is to be believed and inaccurate articles range from simply out of date to down-right scare mongering. So what should you believe? To shed some light on the situation, The Harley Medical Group have put together a need-to-know guide to Laser Hair Removal. There’s all the essential information you’ll want to know if you’re considering the treatment, a bit of myth busting and an update on the very latest technologies available.
Dispelling the Myths
A rumour can be found on the internet that claims Laser Hair Removal causes infertility. We can absolutely say that this is NOT TRUE.
Due to the laser’s design Laser Hair Removal for the bikini line cannot cause infertility. The laser we use delivers a highly concentrated beam of light that penetrates into the skin by approximately a 1mm. This then delivers a controlled amount of heat that delivers microscopic damage to the follicle which results in a decrease in hair production. Any laser energy that is not absorbed into the follicle quickly scatters or reflects and does not affect structures under the subcutaneous tissue i.e. the ovaries. While we prefer not to you can in fact have Laser Hair Removal while pregnant, according to a paper published by the The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Additionally, our Laser Hair Removal Lasers are specific to that treatment only, which meant their sole job is to target hair follicles. Essentially meaning they ignore anything that isn’t a follicle.
There is a belief that having Laser Hair Removal on the armpits will prevent sweating – this is NOT TRUE.
While Laser Hair Reduction is often recommended to people who sweat a lot, it will not stop the body from sweating. Laser Hair Removal does not destroy the sweat glands or lymph nodes. The apocrine glands in the armpit, and other pubic areas, are closely associated with the hair follicles and are, for some clients, partially disabled by the laser treatment. As a result there may be slightly less sweating. What sweating there is will also evaporate faster, as it’s not clinging to underarm hairs, and may also have less odour. If you suffer from excessive sweating we would recommend having the treatment hyperhidrosis, which will temporarily deactivate your sweat glands. .
It’s also a commonly held belief that darker skin tones cannot be treated with Laser Hair Removal. To clear this up once and for all – that is NOT TRUE.
It was the case, in the early days of Laser Hair Removal, that the equipment used could not distinguish between the pigment in hair and the pigment in skin. Thus only dark hairs on pale skin tones could be safely treated, but this is not true of modern lasers. Unfortunately, this meant some people with darker skin tones were irresponsibly treated regardless of the safety concerns. In the worst cases this lead to serious burns and permanent changes in skin pigmentation, giving the treatment an undeserved reputation.
Modern lasers now have adjustable wavelengths which are able to more readily differentiate between pigment in the hair and pigment in the skin. While it is safe to treat darker skin tones significant training is required to ensure the laser is used correctly. Heed the word of warning here, and only ever receive Laser Hair Removal from a medically trained professional like the Cosmetic Nurses at The Harley Medical Group.
The use of lasers is no longer regulated by law in the UK, and so at some clinics there is no one is responsible for either the standard of the equipment being used or the training of the staff administering treatments. The Harley Medical Group are, however, proud to uphold to the high standards and regulations of the Quality Care Commission. So you can be absolutely sure about the care you’ll receive at our clinics.
As in every sector, technologies are constantly evolving and improving in the beauty and medical industries and the latest generation of Laser Hair Removal equipment can safely and effectively treat a variety of skin tones and hair colours.
Without becoming too bogged down in the mechanical working of the equipment, the advanced capabilities of the new lasers are to do with the adjustable wavelengths they offer. By altering the depth to which a laser beam penetrates the skin, your Practitioner can successfully target unwanted hairs without damaging pigment in the skin. This development also means modern lasers can treat blonde, red and grey hairs, opening up Laser Hair Removal to a much broader scope of patients.
The Soprano Laser
The Soprano Ice Laser is the latest innovation in the field and available at our London clinics. This new equipment was developed to address some of the draw-backs of Laser Hair Removal at present: the restriction on treating sun-tanned skin and the level of patient discomfort.
Though patients often say Laser Hair Removal was not as uncomfortable as they were expecting - and patients who wax commonly say the sensation is significantly less painful than that – there is a certain ‘ouch factor’ involved in Laser Hair Removal. The Soprano Ice Laser, however, has been designed with a specially cooled tip, reducing discomfort significantly by cooling the area as it treats.
The Soprano Ice Laser can also safely treat sun-tanned skin, a huge benefit for patients who may otherwise have had to postpone treatments and delay their course.
What to expect from Laser Hair Removal
It’s important to note that Laser Treatments offer a permanent reduction of unwanted hair growth - there is no treatment for complete removal. Studies have shown, however, that as much as 90% of the hair treated during a course of Laser Hair Removal does not grow back.
For the best results we always recommend patients undergo a course of between 4 and 8 Laser Hair Removal treatments – depending on the area treated. This is because the hair growth cycle occurs in phases and only hairs in the first stage can be treated by the laser; the multiple treatments ensure that every hair is eventually targeted.
Patients are also often misinformed that they cannot shave inbetween the sessions of their treatment course. This is not true, you can keep the area hair-free by shaving, though we do not recommend patients wax between Laser Hair Removal sessions as this can disrupt the growth cycle of hair and make subsequent treatments less effective.
One of the other fantastic benefits of Laser Hair Removal is that it is an effective treatment for ingrown hairs. Meaning you can enjoy smoother skin than with many other hair removal methods.
Identifying your Skin Tone
Medical professionals use something called the Fitzpatrick Scale to classify skin colours – as seen in the image below – at The Harley Medical Group our advanced lasers mean we can currently treat every type of skin indicated on the scale.
The only limitation surrounds suntanned skin, which cannot always be treated with Laser Hair Removal. The risks associated with using lasers on suntanned skin are to do with the concentration of melanin, rather than just its presence, which is why suntanned skin is different from simply treating darker skin tones. The restriction also applies to false tans.
Unfortunately it is also not possible, at present, to treat grey hairs on dark skin tones.
Hopefully, this article has answered some questions and quashed any concerns you may have had about Laser Hair Removal. If you’re considering the treatment, book a free, no obligation consultation today and one of our Cosmetic Nurses will discuss the treatment with you in detail and answer any further questions you may have.