Is Laser Hair Removal a Safe Treatment?
Yes, laser hair removal is a safe treatment. It is an extremely effective way of reducing and removing excess hair from all areas of the body.
Although it is a very safe method of hair removal it does have many safety precautions that need to be followed. The skin must be prepared properly before each hair removal session.
There are two types of reactions that can happen as a result of laser hair removal treatment. Skin pigmentation and skin irritation. By adhering to the strict pre-treatment instructions given to you by your laser consultant you won’t have an issue.
1. Skin Pigmentation
Laser hair removal works by introducing high levels of laser energy into hair follicles beneath the skin’s surface. Laser energy travels below the skin’s surface and is guided by the dark colour within the hair. When it reaches the follicle heat causes a strong thermal reaction. This heat destroys the interconnecting cells that help hairs grow.
To reach the follicle which is located beneath the skin’s surface, the laser relies upon dark pigment. It uses this pigment as a target. That is why laser doesn’t work on light colored hair. If their is no pigment the laser has no target.
To avoid pigmention occuring on the skin the correct wavelenght of laser must be used. For pale to mid colour skin we use an Alexandrite laser. For darker skins we use an Nd:YAG laser. Each of these wavelengths deliver energy in different ways. Both make laser hair removal a very safe treatment to have.
How we treat pale skin safely with laser hair removal
For the Alexandrite to work safely their must be a contrast between the hair colour and skin colour. Alexandrite delivers energy rapidly into the skin. It’s main target is melanin. If the contrast between light skin and dark hair is very well defined the energy will only reach the hair. Because the skin contains less melanin and is lighter the energy won’t be absorbed in the same way. This leads to the thermal destruction of the hair while leaving the surrounding skin unaffected.
It is important to keep the skin as pale and as stable as possible when undergoing treatment. Too many fluctuations in skin color can cause issues during a treatment course. When you start treatment a safe setting is selected based on your skin colour and skin tone. Should your skin colour change ie from a sunbed or sun exposure this will affect your treatment settings. This will also increase the risk of pigmentation from the laser so is best avoided. If you happen to go on holiday during your treatment course we would recommend using SPF 50 and avoiding long periods of sun exposure. If you happen to go on holiday and develop a tan we will simply wait a little longer for your tan to fade. This way we can do another patch test when your skin is paler and recommence treatment.
If we treat skin with an active tan the risks of pigmentation are increased dramatically. Because Alexandrite laser is so focused on pigment it will see melanin in the skin the same way as a hair. The skin will rapidly absorb the energy from the laser and disturb this pigment in your skin. This will result in the skin reacting and pigmentation will occur on the skin. In most cases, this pigment will replenish itself over time but it may take between 6 – 24 months for the skin to return to normal. This depends upon the colour of the skin at the time and also the laser energies that were used.
How we treat Darker skin safely with laser hair removal
For naturally darker skins we use a completely different wavelenght of laser. For dark skin we use an Nd:YAG. Instead of targeting and absorbing into pigment this targets the blood supply that is connected to the hair follicle. Because of the abundance of melanin in darker skin if we were to use the Alexandrite it would absorb too much energy. This would result in skin damage so that is why this wavelength is used. When the YAG is pulsed over the skin it filters energy down into the skin bypassing pigment.
It is important to know that if your skin is naturally dark in colour laser hair removal is extremely safely using an NDYAG.
2. Skin Irritation / Inflammation
This is the most common side effect from laser hair removal. Skin reactions such as irritation and inflammation are usually very mild. These normally disappear after 24 – 48 hours post-treatment and for some are a normal part of the process.
These reactions can appear as mild redness and slight swelling isolated around the hair follicle. Some people who are very sensitive to heat and those that suffer from allergies such as hayfever can sometimes react more. They may experience these issues for a longer period after treatment. This is due to their skin’s inability to dissipate heat post-treatment. If you have this skin type we will make adjustments to your treatment plan to prevent this happening after treatment. However if it does you can manage this by taking antihistamines after treatment.
Should you have a skin reaction that you are concerned about contact your clinic immediately. They can advise you on it and what you need to do to. They will have experience in this area and will have seen similar reactions before.
What Causes Skin Irritation From Laser Hair Removal?
Some of the common causes of skin irritation and inflammation after laser treatment are as follows:
- A person’s sensitivity to heat
- Dry skin in the treatment area
- Topical products on the skin not fully removed before treatment
- Dry shaving your treatment area
- Shaving on the day of your session
- Being to heavy handed when shaving
- Leaving hair removal cream on for too long
- Over exfoliating your treatment area
- Allergies, etc.
It is important to fully inform your laser consultant about any medications or sensitivities that you may have in advance of your laser treatment.
Our dedicated team of hair removal experts will make sure to adjust your treatment plan. Your safety is always prioritised, we will never take risks with your skin.
To book your laser hair removal session with Urbana, and for the best advice on a safe journey, go here. Our friendly, experienced team will be glad to help!