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Laser hair removal is one of the newer methods available to remove body hair. It is performed by trained professionals in a clinic. The technique employs lasers to target concentrated light onto the hair follicles. The melanin (the pigment that determines skin and hair colour) present in the hair follicle absorbs the light. This light then gets converted into heat and damages the hair follicle. The damage caused inhibits the growth of hair in that spot.

There is a misconception that laser therapy can permanently stop hair growth in the treated area: this isn’t true for everyone. Laser hair removal treatment can reduce the growth of hair after a series of sessions, but in most cases, one requires maintenance sessions every now and again. Laser hair removal is more effective in people with a fairer complexion and darker hair. The contrast between the two helps the laser isolate and focus on the hair pigment instead of the skin pigment. This also reduces the risk of injury. 

There are many different kinds of lasers. Some can cause less pain during the procedure than others, some are more suitable for coarser hair, and others are prefered for darker skin colour (less contrast between skin pigment and hair pigment).

  1. Procedure for laser hair removal
  2. Laser hair removal benefits
  3. Side-effects of laser hair removal
  4. Laser hair removal cost and limitations
  5. Precautions to take before and after laser hair removal

Unlike most other hair removal methods, laser hair removal requires more careful consideration before beginning. An appointment with a dermatologist is always recommended, in case your skin type may be unsuitable for the treatment or you might have a skin condition or infection that needs to be treated first. Other things like tattoos, medical conditions, medications you’re on and injuries might need to be taken into account as well.

Here’s what you can expect during the procedure: 

  • You’ll be asked to change into a gown depending on what body part you’re there to get the treatment for.
  • The area will be cleaned to remove any dirt or oil.
  • The area will be shaved with a new razor - this can come as a surprise but it is necessary for the laser to do its job.
  • You will be provided protective eye gear before the laser is used, to avoid injuring your retinas.
  • A cooling gel is applied over the area. Some lasers can feel really hot during the procedure, the cooling gel helps you bear it. 
  • The duration of the session depends on how large the body part is. The upper lip takes about five minutes, while legs could take more than an hour. 
  • The pain can be more in some parts of the body. Some people feel that dry skin can make the pain more intense.
  • Some clinics might use a numbing gel for certain body parts like the bikini areas. The gel is kept on for 30-45 minutes to numb the area and then the procedure begins.  
  • Once the procedure is over, the technician will clean the body part with a wet towel. 
  • Lotion will be applied to the body part. The lotion might contain aloe vera (for it’s cooling properties) and have sunscreen in it. 
  • If you still have a burning sensation at this point, you can ask for an ice pack as well. 
  • After the session, your skin will be hair-free and smooth. Hair will start growing back about a week after the session, but it will also shed on its own soon after. 
  • You can schedule your next appointment for when your growth comes back, about six-eight weeks later.

Laser hair removal treatment is mostly done for aesthetic purposes. Compared to other methods of hair removal, laser treatments can be considered superior for a few reasons.

  • Longer lasting: While it may not be permanent, its effects last longer than any other method of hair removal. 
  • No cuts and undergrowth: The lasers used do not damage the dermis at all. Cuts caused by razors and ingrown hair caused by waxing and shaving can be a thing of the past. 
  • Other applications: Most people opt for laser hair removal for cosmetic reasons, but over the years there have been more some unconventional applications in various dermatological and surgical disorders like dissecting folliculitis (chronic inflammatory disease of the scalp), hidradenitis suppurativa (chronic skin condition that causes lumps), genital gender reaffirming surgery, etc.

There are many tried-and-tested hair removal treatments available today. While laser hair removal, when it is done by a trained expert, is safe, it does have a few downsides. These include:

  • Chances of burns: Burns and blisters are rare but can occur occasionally, especially if the procedure isn’t performed correctly.
  • Not suitable for everyone: Laser hair removal isn’t advised for body hair that isn’t dark - for example, someone who has white or blonde hair.

Laser hair removal therapy is also significantly more expensive than threading, waxing or using hair removal creams.

A good clinic charges about Rs 3,000-5,000 per session on an average. This price can be higher for a larger body part (like back, legs, arms, etc.) and lower for a smaller body part (like underarms, upper lip, etc.). Depending on your growth, you could need anywhere from four to six sessions for each body part. Some people might require maintenance sessions beyond that as well.

Many clinics offer a discounted full body package for around Rs 50,000 that includes about six sessions for each of eight body parts included. While a big one-time investment, a package like this ends up being a lot more affordable in the long run.

Laser hair removal has a few limitations, too: it can be performed all over the body except around the eyes. This means that you might still need to use a different method of hair removal for eyebrow hair. Other facial hair also has a higher probability of coming back, even after multiple sessions.

Laser hair removal works by heating the hair down to the follicles. It is a good idea to arm yourself with information about the procedure as well as what to expect at the clinic, so you can get the best possible results.

Here are some tips on how to prepare for a laser hair removal appointment and take care of your skin afterwards:

  • Shaving or trimming the hair is a part of the procedure. So don’t shave (or even wax) the area at home before your appointment. This will help the expert to see where all you have hair growth and whether the hair is pigmented enough.
  • Your technician will provide a list of instructions for you to follow for after-care. It’s important to take these seriously as they may affect the results and help you avoid adverse reactions. These could include post-treatment limitations on any rigorous activity, swimming, sun exposure, etc.
  • Your technician might also provide a special skin-care routine or products for you to use. 
  • You may be asked to avoid having a bath/shower for 24 hours after the treatment. The technician may also recommend forgoing any soap for 48 hours.
  • Wear sunscreen before and after the treatment.
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