Laser Hair removal demystified

Cooler weather is the perfect time to consider managing long-term hair removal. It can be confusing as there are so many options available. So let us work through some facts to make it easier to understand.

Within the skin industry, we class hair removal as being a reduction, never permanent as there is always a few active hair follicles left behind. There are a few professional options. These are Electrolysis, IPL (intense pulsed light) and Laser hair reduction.

Electrolysis is where a single hair at a time is treated with an electrode. The electrode is carefully guided into the hair follicle, and a single blast of energy (heat and current) are directed at the hair follicle. This causes the hair follicle to shut down. This is a very laborious and tiresome procedure as each hair needs to be treated one at a time. However this treatment is perfect for those with grey or white hair, which can spring up around the chin in menopausal women.

IPL, or Intense Pulsed Light, uses light energy emitted from a Xenon Bulb to target the pigment in the hair. This is why it is not possible to have tanned skin prior to treatment, as the IPL will target skin pigment too. This light travels through the skin until it hits the pigment in the hair. As the light is absorbed, the hair follicle is heated and destroyed. However, only hair that is in the growing phase is destroyed, as the hair follicle or root of the hair is not subject to heat damage unless the cells are actively dividing. This active phase is called the Anagen Phase.

Laser works in a similar way to IPL, except that the light is much more intense and focussed, and tends to be more effective as a result. Similarly your skin needs to be untanned (not even fake tan) or you risk a burn as the laser will target any pigment, but we want the energy to target the hair pigment. Again the hair follicle is precisely heated and destroyed whilst it is in the active phase of growing. Only about 20% of hair follicles are active at any one time.

Once you decide to undertake treatment, the clinic you attend is just as important as the procedure itself. The qualifications of skin care providers varies widely within Australia. With the exception of Queensland and Western Australia, the area of laser treatment is not regulated at all. I recommend that you look out for a dermal therapist. This is a university trained therapist, who will hold a laser licence. Your therapist should also offer you patch testing prior to undertaking treatment, to ensure that your procedure is without incident and comfortable for you.

Learn more

Thanks for reading!

Written by Giulia D’Anna

BDSc (Melb), MRACDS, Honorary FIADFE (NY), Graduate Diploma Dermal Therapies (AACDS), Cert. Practice Man (UNE), Editor APJ (APAN) + | + 3 Belmore Road, Balwyn North, Victoria, Australia 3104 + | + Founder of iDental and Dermal Distinction

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