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The truth about laser hair removal
Effective, permanent hair removal
Laser hair removal can effectively reduce unwanted hair permanently with minimal risks. However, keep in mind that to be effective the laser hair removal procedure has to be repeated at least three to eight times for each area.
The benefits of laser hair removal
Laser hair removal has the potential to dramatically and permanently reduce hair growth. As the hair follicles are destroyed, there is no hard stubble to contend with or ingrown hairs to worry about. Compared to electrolysis, which also removes hair permanently, laser hair removal treatments are a lot quicker, so can be used to treat larger areas of the body.
The disadvantages of laser hair removal
The main disadvantage of laser hair removal is the cost associated with the treatment. Unfortunately you can't get away with one treatment. You have to have a series of sessions to make it work, which can be expensive. As I explain elsewhere in this article, fortunately there are few risks associated with the procedure.
So what exactly is laser hair removal?
During laser hair removal a laser, or a concentrated beam of light, is aimed at the skin. It is this laser that destroys the hair follicles. The treatment is considered to be relatively safe because there is minimum disruption to the surface of the skin. Because the laser or light is attracted to the melanin in the hair follicle, the hair follicle heats up, destroying the stem cell that produces the hair. This hair follicle is permanently destroyed.
So basically the heat from the laser burns away the hair follicle. This is not as painful as it sounds, most people who undergo laser hair removal treatment report a prickling sensation. It is described as being less painful than other hair removal procedures, such as waxing or plucking.
Our skin is not usually adversely affected by the hair removal treatment. This is because our skin cools down more quickly than the hair follicles do. So our general skin area is normally fine after the process.
However, most treatments will finish off with a cream designed to calm and cool down the skin, to minimise any risk.
Hair removal treatments on the face or under the arms are normally completed in around 15 minutes. Other areas of the body can be treated in under an hour.
How effective is it?
Laser hair removal works most effectively on hairs that are actively growing. It will permanently remove the hair follicles of hair that are in an active growth phase. However, laser hair removal does not prevent new hair follicles from growing new hairs. Hence the need for multiple treatments for treatment to be effective.
Depending on the area being treated, there is normally a gap of between four to ten weeks between treatments. Some areas, such as the face, have faster hair growth rates, so these areas can have shorter spans between treatment. You have to wait for the hair to re-grow, before it can be treated again.
The effectiveness of the hair removal process also varies according to your colouring. Laser hair removal is most effective for people who have dark hair. The treatment does not work on grey, white or red hairs. It also works better on people with fair skin tones, being less effective on darker skin colours.
Also, if you have taken a course of Roaccutane, a treatment for acne, you will usually be advised to wait six months before undergoing treatment.
What to do before a treatment
For up to six weeks before a laser hair removal treatment, do not pluck or wax your hair. However, it is OK to shave. This is because shaving does not remove the hair follicle which is the area that the laser treats. If you pluck or shave your hair you will remove the hair follicle, thus preventing the laser hair removal treatment from working.
What are the risks with laser hair removal?
Skin may appear red or swollen after treatment, rather similar to a sunburn. Treatments with a good moisturiser or aloe vera gel should adequately soothe the skin within a day or so.
In order not to exacerbate any affects, most clinics advise patients to avoid sun exposure and to apply suncreen after laser hair removal treatments.
It is possible to develop blisters on the skin after treatment. However, this is not usual.
Laser hair removal treatments have been known to re-activate cold sores. So if you have a history of cold sores you should advise the clinic when making your appointment. They may recommend that you seek a doctor's advise before commencing treatment.
IPL is not the same as laser hair removal
Intense pulse light or IPL machines are different to laser hair removal devices. IPL machines are not as accurate as laser hair removal machines and there are more risks associated with them. This is because IPL machines have a higher potential to damage skin. This is because they are not as accurate as laser hair removal devices.
Laser hair removal devices can transmit very specific bandwidths of light, specifcally targeted at hair follicles. IPL devices can only produce a wider bandwidth of light, which has the potential to heat up the skin which surrounds the hair follicles.
Additional risks and information
Please note, I have just done some additional research on this topic, and feel I should post a link to the below website. It is a website for people who claim they have had bad side affects from laser procedures, particularly IPL. This web link was not in my original hub page
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