Laser Hair Removal - The Guide

Excessive hair growth and the need to be groomed requires us to spend an excessive amount of money and time on shaving, waxing, depilatory creams, threading and bleaching. All of which are time consuming, costly and can cause irritation. Waxing, for example, can cause ingrown hairs; shaving can cause a rash, and threading large areas is not practical. Laser hair removal gives us a permanent solution. Laser hair removal is amongst the most popular treatments at Santi South Kensington. It works well on all body areas and provides a durable solution to a vexing problem.

What is laser hair removal?

Over the course of the last few decades scientists discovered that different wavelengths of laser light would create different outcomes on the skin. For example, 415nm is a perfect wavelength to destroy acne, 633nm is excellent for rejuvenation and collagen growth and there are several wavelengths e.g. 1064nm that are excellent at terminating the hair stem.

The laser, targeted at the skin, is preferentially absorbed by the melanin or pigment in the hair. At the same time the skin is kept cool. The melanin absorbs the laser energy transferring it to its root. The excessive energy destroys the hair yet maintains the integrity of the surrounding skin. This process is called Thermal Relaxation Time and is fundamental to the success of laser hair removal. Thermal relaxation time is the time it takes for something to be destroyed by heat. Fortunately the thermal relaxation time of hair and skin differ enormously. For example, move your finger of over a candle. And it doesn’t burn right? Now keep it there. What happens:) Likewise, lasers operate in the microsecond and at times nanosecond sphere. In other words lightning fast. Far too quick for skin to be disturbed but slow enough for the hair to be destroyed.

The treatment will be most effective on those with dark hair and pale skin. However, all skin types can be treated. But not all hair types can be treated. For example, it is not possible to treat blonde, white, grey or red hair. This is because the laser cannot see these colours. And therefore the hair does not absorb sufficient energy to terminate the follicle.

How many sessions are required?

Usually between 6 to 8 treatments sessions are required. This is dependent on hair colour, skin colour, body part, and starting point. Excessive hair growth will obviously need more treatments. Those suffering from PCOS (polycystic ovaries syndrome) an otherwise innocuous condition does cause excessive hair growth. 

The treatments are best performed every 6 to 8 weeks for the body and every 2 to 4 weeks for the face.
The reason for this is because hair grows in 3 stages called anagen, catagen and telogen. The hair is terminated at its anagen phase only. Therefore there has to be a waiting period before the next laser session.


What are the different types of lasers?

There are many types of lasers that are available and used for different reasons. The more historic ones are ruby and diode. The easiest to operate is IPL or Intense Pulsed Light. And the most efficient are Alexandrite and Nd:Yag. The advantage with Alexandrite is that it more powerful operating at 755nm which is preferentially absorbed by the melanin in the hair. It cannot be used on darker skin tones for this reason. The advantage with Nd:Yag is that it has a greater penetration depth. Resulting in a more efficient outcome for certain body parts including the bikini.

The advantages of laser hair removal?

It is permanent though over time new hairs can grow;
It is the most effective of all the treatments available;
Spread over time it is in fact the cheapest treatment!
The skin can appear smoother and enhanced due the laser light and the hair follicles closing in after the hair is terminate

The initial cost can be high;
It can be painful especially around the bikini area though applying an EMLA cream which is a topical anaesthetic cream can help lessen the pain.


Dos and Donts

The area that is treated should not be exposed to the sun for at least 4 weeks before treatment. Using sunblock whilst in the sun will help in reducing the unwanted tanning that is not desirable prior to laser treatment;
Avoid bleaching, plucking and waxing 4 weeks before laser treatment;
Do not take any photosensitising drugs e.g. Antibiotics. Please consult the practitioner in case of doubt;
Shave the evening before laser treatment and do not apply any perfumes on the day of the treatment.

Use aloe vera to calm the skin after laser treatment;
Do not take a bath or hot showers as this may irritate the skin for up to one week after laser treatment;
Protect your skin from the sub for at least one week after laser treatment

Santi London, 33 Thurloe Street, London SW7 2LQ Appointments: 0207 5847000

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