It is no secret that one of the most popular choices in non-surgical procedures are hair reduction from IPL and Laser. In the past I have done a number of features on the topic, including the difference between IPL and Laser, but I think there are still some important points that need to be hammered into our minds.
I spoke to Dr Susan Austin from the Cosmetic Physicians Society of Australasia (CPSA) to get her 5 facts on IPL and Laser Hair Removal. You may remember her from our last ‘5 Things You Need To Know’ on Botox. Take notes on this one …. or just bookmark it and come back to it.
Hair removal on the face – Ouchies!
The Facts from Dr Austin
- Avoid tanning before and after treatment
You cannot have a laser or IPL hair reduction treatment if you have a tan (fake or from sun-exposure or the solarium) because it caninterfere with the absorption of laser light and may result in pigment changes in the skin. Patients should also avoid sun-exposure after a treatment as their skin will be sensitive and may burn more easily, which may also result in pigmentation changes. We recommend that patients undergo treatments in the cooler months when they’re less likely to spend time in the sun, or to be meticulous in applying sunscreen if the treatments are performed in the warmer months.
- Laser and IPL work best on patients with dark hair and fair skin
Laser and IPL machines work by using a light which penetrates the skin and is absorbed by the melanin (the dark colour) in the hair shaft, which then causes heat to transmit to the nearby germinal cells thereby destroying the hair follicle. Lighter hairs don’t tend to carry the heat from the laser or IPL as well because they contain less melanin and therefore these types of hair removal are usually less effective on light coloured hairs (e.g. blonde, grey and white hairs).
- Check the credentials of the operator
It is important that patients receive a treatment from an operator that has been appropriately trained. As lasers are medical-grade equipment I’d strongly recommend visiting a medically trained doctor who specialises in cosmetic treatments, as they can also keep an eye out for skin damage, such as pre-cancerous skin lesions or skin cancers. During the process, the practitioner should also ask for a medical history (including any allergies or medications you are taking), cosmetic routine and potential sun-exposure. To check the credentials of the operator, patients should simply ask the operator about what training they’ve received or check their credentials online (ideally they will have received more than just the standard training from the company that sells the laser or IPL machine).
- Different results for different people
The results of laser and IPL treatments will vary amongst individuals so it’s important to have a realistic expectation of what the outcome will be before you undergo treatment. It is best to consider laser and IPL as hair reduction (rather than removal) treatments and when in doubt speak to the operator or your doctor about what you can expect.
- Account for multiple treatments
To achieve the best results with laser or IPL hair reduction treatments patients need to have a number of treatments. Depending on the patient, I would recommend a minimum of five treatments with a break of 4-6 weeks between each treatment. Importantly the hair needs to be actively growing in order for it to be treated, which is why you need to have treatments every few weeks.
Have you tried Laser or IPL Hair Reduction? Did you learn something new from the above facts? Let us know by commenting below!