People have been finding reasons to remove hair on the face and body since the beginning of time. As far back as the Ice Age, men and women shaved to avoid frostbite as hair absorbs moisture, which could freeze in extreme temperatures. Early Egyptians did it for hygiene because we all know how sweat-drenched hair could stink. From the Renaissance Period throughout the 1900s, “smooth is sexy” when it comes to standards of beauty, and it still holds true to this day where it’s fashionable to bare some skin.
It’s no wonder that people have come up with countless clever ways to get rid of unwanted hair—as depicted in some cave drawings of people using sharpened flint rocks as razors and seashells as tweezers, for example. Whether it’s for aesthetics or hygiene reasons, the fact is there are parts of the body we just don’t want hair to grow.
Then again, shaving or tweezing may lead to ingrown hairs and irritation. Depilatory creams have short-term results compared to dermatological treatments and could be risky on sensitive skin. And waxing and sugaring, albeit a quick fix, are infamously painful. So, what’s the alternative then? Read on to find out all you need to know about medical-grade laser hair removal!
Table of Contents
1. Which parts of the body can be treated with laser hair removal?
Laser hair removal is applicable to practically all parts of the body where hair grows—the face, underarms, legs, chest, back, hands, feet and buttocks. Compared to electrolysis which works from one follicle at a time, lasers can target larger areas in one go.
Most women ask for laser hair removal on the underarms, legs, and bikini areas while it’s the chest, back, and arms for men. Unwanted hair on the face is usually on the eyebrows (the “unibrows,” to be exact), the upper lip, and the jawline in females and males alike.
It is rare for females to have excessive facial hair. If it occurs, it could be a symptom of an underlying medical or genetic condition such as hirsutism which usually manifests on the upper lip and chin area in or other parts like the sideburns and chest. For these types of cases, an appointment with your doctor should come before trying any aesthetic treatments since this may require special care procedures.
2. On which skin colours does laser hair removal work best?
As a rule of thumb, the coarser and darker the hair, the better laser hair removal works. A decade or so ago, laser hair removal may not have been that effective on blonde, gray, and red or ginger hair. That’s because these hair colours don’t have chromophores, or the melanin found in hair follicles, which absorb the energy from the laser.
Your skin is also an essential consideration going into laser hair removal treatments. Medical dermatology professionals classify your skin using the Fitzpatrick scale. The reason you need to understand your skin type in regards to lasers is because it runs the risk of discoloration in the target area. The negative impact usually comes in the form of hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation particularly among those with darker skin.
Until recently, safe laser hair removal was limited in Fitzpatrick skin types I to III. Now, however, there are devices that have greatly improved the safety of laser hair removal in patients with skin types IV to VI.
The bottom line is, not all laser hair removal machines are created equal. So when you research for a clinic, take the time to scrutinise the device that they use. Check if it is safe, efficient, and thorough.
The Aesthetics Centre uses the GentleMax Pro™ by Candela™, widely used in the industry for 20 years now. It’s a dual-platform laser that delivers a 755nm Alexandrite laser and a 1064nm Nd:YAG laser. These two are long-pulsed lasers which means that they have the longest wavelength, but the melanin absorption is less making it much safer on darker skin types. Low melanin absorption means it can be used safely with high energy, but the penetration is comparatively less. Alexandrite and Nd:YAG laser together works on most types of skin/hair, especially Asians and those with darker skin tone.
3. What is the laser hair removal process like?
Minutes prior to the treatment, the target area will be numbed with a topical lidocaine for 20-30 minutes. This will help numb the area to minimise any discomfort the patient may feel.
A few decades ago, laser hair removal would’ve been risky for a woman of color. Lasers weren’t designed with melanin in mind, so it was safest for individuals with fair skin and dark hair follicles. The problem was that lasers could not properly distinguish hair follicles from skin pigment, so those with dark skin could run the risk of severe burns, discoloration, scarring and more. The principle behind hair removal using GentleMax Pro™ is selective photothermolysis. In this process, heat is absorbed by melanin, eventually heating up the hair shaft, the hair follicle, and the active layers in such a way that the melanin helps in destroying the hair.
In the actual treatment the laser delivers a brief intense beam of light which is enough to cause follicular damage, specifically around the bulb and bulge of the hair follicle. While this is happening, surrounding tissues remain unaffected and unharmed. This leaves behind smooth and virtually stubbleless skin without any potential side effects like irritation or pain.
4. How does GentleMax Pro™ ensure comfort during hair removal sessions?
Some patients may feel slight discomfort, which has been compared to snapping a rubber band against the skin. However, GentleMax Pro™ comes with a patented Dynamic Cooling Device™ (DCD) which can quickly resolve any discomfort. It protects the top layer of the skin by spraying the surface with a cooling burst of cryogen milliseconds before the laser pulse. This ensures that the treatment is as safe and comfortable as possible without compromising the laser’s hair reduction capability.
5. Who are the right patients for laser hair removal?
Laser treatments are the best solution for a woman who suffers from thick facial and/or neck and chest hair due to hormonal influences. Laser hair removal is suitable for those who suffer from irritation, eczemas, ingrown hairs or hyperpigmentation that is caused by traditional methods like shaving, waxing or threading.
GentleMax Pro is inclusive because it can target different hair colors and is safe for all skin types in the Fitzpatrick Scale. Now you get to show off smooth, hairless legs and underarms. As for men, they can confidently go shirtless at the beach or pool.
Besides the aesthetic value that laser hair removal provides, it also offers practical uses. The early Egyptians were on to something because it does help minimise body odors especially in hairy areas. It can also prevent recurrent infections caused by ingrown hairs.
6. Does hair grow back after laser hair removal?
The short answer is yes. While laser hair removal outcomes are not permanent, you can expect results to last up to two years in most cases. You’ll notice smoother skin right after the procedure, but to manage your expectations, this isn’t a one-off procedure. Maintenance sessions may be needed to keep the area perpetually hairless.
If you’ve had thick and coarse hair before laser hair removal, the ones that’ll grow back after the treatment are often finer, lighter, and less likely to be noticed than before. Again, the best way to find out is by consulting with a licensed dermatologist.
Lasers can reduce the number of hairs by 40% to 80%. This is because lasers are most effective during anagen, when hair follicles contain more melanin. However, only 20% of our hair is in this phase at any given time – so multiple sessions must be done to target all the follicles.
7. How many laser treatments does it take to see results?
Multiple treatments are required to achieve the significant hair removal effect, and this can vary for each patient. Usually, it can take about 6 to 10 sessions to reduce the hair, with little or no downtime involved. This means that right after the procedure, you can walk out of the clinic and go on with your usual activities. To ensure that the skin isn’t stressed, the succeeding treatment sessions are usually spaced out by several weeks.
People whose hair typically grows faster may need more sessions to get the desired results. Follow-up treatments are usually scheduled every 4 to 6 weeks to catch any hair in the growth stage. Hair grows at different stages, so don’t get discouraged if you notice some growth after the second week. It’s at that time when the follicles that weren’t treated with the laser will go on a growth spurt. And that’s why multiple sessions are necessary.
Each person’s hair removal expectation is also considered during treatment. Some may already be happy with 50% to 60% hair reduction while others prefer the maximum 80% to 95% effect. So, ultimately, the number of sessions you need is up to you.
8. Are there side effects?
Permanent side effects on the treated area are rare and may include:
If in any case these occur, they usually don’t last more than a few days. Your practitioner will have more information about potential side effects.
9. How much does laser hair removal cost?
Prices for treatments in Singapore depend on a variety of factors, like the size of the target area and thickness of hair. Generally, costs start at around SGD 200 to SGD 500 per area. Prices differ depending on the type of laser used: Alexandrite and Ruby lasers work best on light-coloured hair while ND:Yag lasers are suitable for all hair/skin types.
For most aesthetic centres and dermatology clinics, consultation fees are already included in the treatment package. However, there are those that offer complimentary consultations, which would normally cost upwards of SGD 200 per consult.
10. How should I prepare for a laser hair removal treatment?
About six weeks prior to treatment, you should avoid
On the day of your treatment:
- Skin should be clean-shaven.
- Skin should be thoroughly cleansed of any makeup, creams, oils, or self-tanning products.
- Apply sunblock (SPF 30 or above) before your treatment.
You should avoid exposing the treatment area to sunlight or tanning booth light prior to or immediately after treatment. If you have a history of herpes simplex virus, a prophylactic antiviral therapy may be prescribed.
11. What are the aftercare reminders for laser hair removal?
After your laser treatment, protect the treated area by applying sunblock with SPF30 or higher. Avoid scrubbing or rinsing the area with abrasive skin cleansers. Your aesthetician may provide you with additional instructions.
12. Where can you get a laser hair removal procedure?
Before making a beeline for the nearest salon or spa, keep in mind that a medical-grade laser hair removal procedure is meant to be performed at a certified facility. These types of lasers must only be handled by a doctor.
The treatment comes with risks, but proper techniques brought by training and experience can render safe and effective results.
At The Aesthetics Centre in Singapore, the procedure is administered by professionals trained to customise the device settings to your skin/hair and preferred results. Aside from administering the treatment, Dr Anita Soosay can give you the consultation and advice that only an accredited professional can. You’ll also get a specific price quotation during your consultation.