Article Medically reviewed by Dr. Gavin Chan (MBBS, cosmetic physician, liposuctionist)
Templestowe Lower and Berwick Clinics
Dr. Gavin Chan has a background in intensive care, anaesthesia, and emergency medicine. Since 2004, Dr. Chan has provided cosmetic procedures, including anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers, liposuction, fat transfer, skin needling, and laser treatments. He is a doctor trainer for various dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections.
Laser hair removal Melbourne
Quick Facts of laser hair removal
- Laser hair removal helps to induce long-term hair reduction
- The laser is preferentially attracted to the hair over the skin, and therefore the hair is selectively targeted
- Different laser wavelengths are required for different skin/hair type combination
- Multiple lasers, and laser wavelengths are available at Victorian Cosmetic Institute for laser hair removal, and we select the best one for your skin/hair type combination.
- IPL (intense pulsed light) is not used at Victorian Cosmetic Institute, as it is not as specific to the hairs and has more chance of affecting the skin than laser
What is laser hair removal?
Laser hair removal is a process that helps to reduce hair growth and increase the manageability of excess hair in the long-term. Laser energy is used to selectively target and disrupt hair follicles whilst leaving the skin unaffected. It has been used since the 1990’s for this reason, and can help reduce unwanted hair that is usually removed by plucking, shaving or waxing, and make hair management an easier task.
How does laser hair removal work?
Laser hair removal works by using a laser or light source to target and selectively heat the hair follicle. The laser is attracted to the melanin in the hair follicle where it is converted to heat energy that can destroy the stem cell in the hair follicle and prevent its future growth. The skin also takes up part of the laser energy, but it has the ability to lose heat quicker than the hair follicle, and is left intact. Hair also has a larger amount of melanin than skin, therefore it attracts the laser energy more readily than skin. Therefore, as a rule, people with darker hair and lighter skin are easier to treat as there is a greater differential between the amount of melanin in the skin and hair.
Hair grows in cycles and laser can treat hairs in the “Anagen” or active growth stage. Since approximately 20% of hairs are in the appropriate Anagen stage at any one time, at least 5 effective treatments are necessary to disable most of the follicles in a given area. Most people require 8 sessions, but this varies greatly between person to person. More will be required for the face. New hairs can develop due to numerous factors such as hormonal changes, and medical conditions such as PCOS. Patients who experience new growth later in life may require maintenance treatments
The laser head is placed on the skin, and systematically fired over the areas to be treated. A small ‘prick’ is felt with each laser shot, and this discomfort is usually tolerated well. We may also use skin cooling to reduce the heat and discomfort of the laser on the skin, and this can be built into the laser head, or be a separate cooling unit that blows cold air onto the skin.
Case study - ingrown neck hairs
This man presented to Victorian Cosmetic Institute with an extended history of ingrown hairs on his neck. This caused significant rashes and cuts after shaving. He has olive skin. The neck was treated with our Nd:YAG 1064nm laser. The treatment caused some temporary redness that subsided after one day. The result is seen here with a clear demarcation line between the treated area (neck) and the untreated area (face). This was just prior to his 3rd treatment with the laser.
How many treatments do I need and how often?
What type of lasers are used at Victorian Cosmetic Institute?
What is the difference between the lasers/IPL for hair removal?
IPL or intense pulsed light is the most common machine used for hair removal. It is technically not a laser as it emits a broad-band of light frequencies rather than a single wavelength. IPL systems are effective for hair removal, but as there are a broad-band of light frequencies emitted, it tends to be less specifically attracted to the hair follicle in relation to the skin. Therefore, the probability of blistering and skin pigmentation problems after treatment is higher than some other laser systems. True lasers only emit one single frequency at a time, which allows them to target a particular hair type on a particular skin type. This means that, if you have chosen the correct laser and wavelength, you will have a safer and more effective result for your skin type and hair type. IPL is akin to a pocket knife, with lots of different functions, but none that it truly does well, and lasers are akin to a set of chef knives, each one made for an individual purpose and is highly specialised to that task.
Am I a suitable candidate for laser hair removal?
Patients who have recently taken Roaccutane for acne need to wait at least 6 months after finishing their course of treatment to commence laser hair removal.
Laser hair removal can be used for medical causes of excessive hair growth, for example, thyroid disorders or those who have polycystic ovarian syndrome. In most cases it is performed by patients who elect to have the procedure for cosmetic purposes.
Can I use the laser to treat hairs on my face and neck?
Lasers can be used for unwanted hair growth on the face and neck in females. This is a very distressing problem for many females, and can be difficult to manage. Often, there is a hormonal cause for this. It may be due to polycystic ovarian syndrome for example. Also, as you get older, the balance between the male and female hormones becomes unbalanced, and this can lead to facial or neck hair growth. Laser hair removal can be used to help manage this problem, and reduce the frequency for other forms of hair removal. It needs to be performed every 4 weeks on the face and neck.
What do I need to do before treatment?
Hair should not be plucked or waxed at least 2 weeks before treatment.
The principle behind this is to leave just the follicle of the hair intact. Plucking/waxing will remove the follicle, whereas shaving will not.
You will need to shave the area to be treated the day before or the morning of the procedure.
Do not tan the area to be treated if possible. This means avoidance of solariums, direct sun exposure, spray tans, and use of sunscreen daily on the areas to be treated.
Do not apply cosmetics or creams to the treatment area on the day of treatment.
If you have a history of cold sores and and you are planning to have your upper lip hairs or chin hairs treated you will need to inform your treating doctor so that you can be put on appropriate anti-viral therapy beforehand.
What does laser hair removal feel like?
Generally, there is a small amount of discomfort associated with laser hair removal. It feels like a rubber band snapping on the skin associated with the feeling of heat. Any discomfort is reduced by the contact cooling tip of the laser, but will increase with an increase in the size and density of the hair follicle, the darkness of the skin, and the laser energy used.
You and your therapist will wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from the laser during the procedure. You will be draped appropriately for your privacy, and lay on clean, soft disposable sheeting for hygiene and comfort.
What are the risks of laser hair removal?
Sun avoidance is important after laser treatments, and sunscreen should be used on the treated area (if exposed to sunlight) on a daily basis. This is important to reduce pigmentation problems after the treatment (either gain or loss of pigmentation of the treated area).
Although uncommon, any blisters or scabs resulting from laser hair removal should not be scratched or picked at. This can result in permanent scarring (very rare) if these blisters or scabs become irritated or infected.
The skin may appear mildly red and swollen after treatment and aloe vera gel can also be used for any skin irritation from laser treatment.
Uncommonly, laser hair removal on the upper lip may also reactivate cold sores, and if this occurs you should inform your treating doctor as soon as possible.
Why choose Victorian Cosmetic Institute as my provider of laser hair removal?
At Victorian Cosmetic Institute, we use the latest medical grade laser technology to perform your treatment. We have Cosmetic Doctors on site who are able to provide further support and assistance if required. Fully trained laser operators will carry out your treatment, they have completed thorough training and have laser safety certificates.
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