There are numerous options available when it comes to laser hair removal – how do you know which one is best for you? Here are some guidelines for this popular treatment.
The laser hair removal process involves directing highly concentrated beams of light onto your skin at a temperature that damages hair follicles and prevents regrowth, while avoiding injury to the surrounding tissue. The result is permanent hair reduction. Six to 10 sessions are typically required for total hair removal in the treated area.
There’s a laser for everyone
“Various media can be used to remove hair, including diode, IPL, Nd:YAG and alexandrite,” explains Nicola Steenkamp from Best Lasers, a company in Pretoria that specialises in laser hair removal equipment.
The equipment used depends on your hair density, hair colour and skin type. “The diode laser has a wavelength of 810 nanometer (nm), which is suitable for most patients’ hair,” says Steenkamp. “An alexandrite laser has a wavelength of 755nm, it’s a smaller wavelength used to target lighter hair colour. The Nd:YAG technology has a wavelength of 1064nm, this is usually used for darker skin types and hair colours.” These lasers are generally safe for use on all parts of the body. “Even a full Hollywood can be done with these systems,” says Steenkamp.
IPL and laser – what’s the difference?
IPL, or intense pulse light, is similar to laser, however laser uses one wavelength of light, while IPL uses the full spectrum. “IPL systems have filters in them that block out the wavelengths that are not needed for that particular treatment. For example if the goal is hair removal, we cut out the wavelengths that don’t target the melanin (pigment in hair),” explains Steenkamp.
IPL’s wavelengths are more diffused and therefore somewhat less powerful than laser, however both modalities can be effective. For an understanding of which one is right for you, visit an experienced practitioner.
The pain factor
The good news is that times have changed when it comes to pain with hair removal. “Our systems are pain-free due to the use of In-Motion™ technology, which allows the therapist to move the hand piece freely over the skin and overlap areas,” explains Steenkamp. “The previous ‘Pick & Place’ method involved placing the laser on the person’s skin, firing a shot, then placing it down on the next spot, and zapping again.” Ouch!
The price of smooth skin
“Factors that affect the cost of the treatment include whether the system is Pick & Place or In-Motion™, if it has contact cooling (another feature that helps minimise pain), whether it’s IPL or diode laser, if it’s safe for all skin types, etc,” says Steenkamp. “Make sure you know which system will be used when booking your appointment. After all, why would you want to experience a painful procedure when technology allows us to do it pain-free?”
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