Having a hair free body is every woman’s dream. All women get some hair reduction procedure or the other. Many opt for temporary measures like waxing or shaving but increasingly people are opting for a more permanent solution like a LASER hair reduction. There are several LASERs in the market with very variable efficacy. Whether or not a LASER is effective for hair reduction depends upon the device being used, the skill of the user and the type of hair that one has.
Broadly speaking there are 3 main types of LASER Hair Reduction devices in the market:
1. Diode LASER:
Globally, this is considered to be the gold standard LASER for hair reduction. This however has a narrow safety margin and therefore has to be operated by an expert. In skilled hands, this can be very effective and safe.
2. Nd-YAG LASER:
This is safer in the darker skin tones which are more commonly seen in India. In terms of effectiveness, it is less effective than a diode LASER. In general, a greater number of sessions are required to achieve long term permanent hair reduction with this LASER device.
3. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL):
Although many offices use this device for LASER hair reduction this is not very effective in achieving hair reduction. We commonly use this for treatment of freckles and other skin problems. However, some filters may be able to achieve hair reduction although in my experience it is not as effective as the above two devices.
To add to the confusion, there are several companies manufacturing LASERs of the same technology. The quality is variable and the complaint of many people that their LASER sessions have been ineffective is due to use of poor quality LASER devices.
It is also important to know what one can expect from their LASER sessions:
1. Usually about 6-9 sessions are required for most body areas.
2. The result is permanent hair reduction and one can achieve a 90% reduction but it is rarely complete hair loss.
3. The LASER does not work on grey hair or fine hair.
4. The Hair reduction is most effective in those areas where the hair is coarse and dark like the underarms and bikini area. It is also very effective in the legs. On the arms, chest and back the hair tends to be finer and more sessions may be required in these areas.
5. LASER hair reduction in the lower face poses a special set of challenges in young women. In this part of the body several sessions are required. Almost all young women reach a point where they need a LASER session once every 3 months. Such maintenance sessions may be required for years. When this is contrasted with getting a waxing done once every 2 weeks or a shaving done every other day, the LASER comes out as the obvious choice.
6. The LASER is a medical procedure and carries some risks. Most risks are temporary and include redness and bumpiness in the areas treated. This lasts for a few hours. There may be a slight tingling sensation which also settles down in a few hours. The only risk is that of a LASER burn. There is a 2% risk of a LASER burn which leaves a black mark. This is however a temporary discomfort and usually settles down in a week.
The biggest factor which is taken into consideration prior to getting a LASER is the cost of the procedure. In LASER procedures, there is an initial high cost which can appear excessive. However, one fails to realise there is a cumulative cost to temporary hair reduction procedures like waxing. When the 2 costs are compared, the cost of the LASER is usually recovered within a few years as savings from salon treatments for temporary hair reduction. When the decision to get LASER hair reduction is taken, I strongly recommend that one chooses a centre which uses a good quality LASER to avoid future disappointment. The skill of the doctor or technician performing the LASER procedure also determines the effectiveness of the LASER and this should be kept in mind while choosing your service provider.