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Laser Hair Removal, How Does it Work?
Laser hair removal is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures performed as it allows the patient to eliminate undesirable hair that grows in various regions of the body.
People often find the presence of hair in certain regions of the body unpleasant and embarrassing. In other cases people wish to reduce the need of daily shaving, depilatory waxing, tweezers, or other uncomfortable
hair removal methods.
How does laser hair removal work?
During laser hair removal, a laser sends out light energy that travels through the skin and is absorbed by the pigment in the hair follicle. Pigments are the substances that give hair and skin their color. The laser works as selective photo-thermolysis, which means that the pigmented areas selectively absorb the light energy. The hair follicles that are in the anagen phase or the active growing phase contain the greatest amount of melanin, or pigment, and can absorb the laser’s light energy.
However, the hair follicles found in the growing Catagen or Telogen phases are less pigmented, therefore these follicles don’t absorb the light energy as well and hair growth is not impaired. The energy or heat from the laser damages the hair follicle, which affects its ability to make the hair grow. Over time the hairs that were present in the damaged follicles fall out resulting in a smoother appearance and reduced hair growth.
The ideal candidates:
It’s important to realize that any type of pigment will absorb the light energy emitted by the laser.
To obtain the best results, the hair should be darker than the skin. This is why people with a lighter complexion and dark hair are better candidates for laser hair removal than people with a darker complexion and lighter hair color. If you have a darker complexion the pigment in the skin could absorb part of the light
energy emitted by the laser.
Preparation for the procedure:
Before the procedure begins your doctor may suggest shaving or trimming the hair in the area allocated for treatment. To begin the procedure your doctor will apply a cooling gel in the treatment area that will help prevent the heat produced by the laser from damaging your skin. In contrast your doctor may use a laser with a special cooling tip that is applied procedure.
Although the procedure usually isn’t painful, you can request a topical anesthetic if you are especially sensitive. During the procedure you should wear goggles to protect your eyes from the intense light produced by the laser. The duration of the procedure depends
on the area of treatment. A procedure where the hair is eliminated from a small region, such as the armpit, can take only a few minutes, whereas a larger area such as the legs can take around an hour.
Recovery from laser hair removal:
At the end of the procedure the skin in the treated area may become red or irritated, therefore your
doctor may recommend that you use a topical cream to protect your skin for the first two days. It is also important to use sunscreen for a few weeks after the procedure. You should not use products that
can irritate your skin such as alpha-hydroxyl acids or strong astringents, and you should also avoid shaving and any further hair removal of the treatment area.
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