Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is the use of laser energy to produce long-term hair reduction. Each pulse of laser light removes the unwanted hair in a desired region. Every hair goes through 3 phases:
Anagen Phase (active) - growth is active and melanin is being produced in the hair bulb at the base of the hair.
Catagen Phase (intermediate) - no hair growth or pigment production takes place in this phase
Telogen Phase (shedding) - this phase of the hair cycle is marked by the formation of a new hair in the follicle, which causes the shedding of old existing hair; the hair follicle then recycles back to the Anagen phase.
The length of cycles varies from person to person and depends on different areas of the body. Treatment interval between treatments will vary based on the treatment area and an individual's own hair growth velocity. Typically, intervals between treatments are 4 to 6 weeks apart for facial areas and 6 to 8 weeks for body areas. Intervals will also lengthen as you progress in your treatments and have hair reduction and decreased speed of growth.
The laser targets hairs, which are in the growth phase (Anagen), and as hairs go through their complete cycle (meaning not all of your hair is in the phase at any one time) multiple sessions may be needed to remove all the hairs. In some situations, hairs that may have been dormant during your previous treatments may now be in the growth phase. Hairs may be shaved between sessions but ideally must be 2 or 3 mm long. Please do not wax, use hair removal creams or bleaching agents as the laser needs pigment to target.
The GMax laser will be adjusted according to the colour, thickness and location of your hair being treated as well as your skin colour.
The number of treatments varies from person to person. No one’s genetic make-up is the same, therefore, everyone will respond differently to any kind of treatment but generally an average of 6 to 8 treatments are needed.
Please understand that treatments are quoted per area, not per shot or by the amount of hair you have in the area needed to be treated. We may charge a maintenance fee after the 8th treatment. Many patients find that maintenance sessions done once or twice a year are ideal for keeping hairs at bay after completing the initial treatment protocol.
We do not guarantee that this is a permanent hair removal treatment as there could be a number of different reasons for the hairs to grow back, such as:
- People who normally wax or pluck a lot between treatments
- The use of steroids or excessive androgen/testosterone intake
- Dormant hairs that suddenly submerge due to hormonal changes (e.g.: contraceptive pill, pregnancy, menopause)
- In some cases, complete regrowth can occur in patients with white or blonde hairs
With regards to pain, because this laser produces heat, you will feel some kind of sensation during your treatment but typically less pain or discomfort than waxing. Patients often compare the sensation to having a rubber band snapped against their skin.
Certain areas of the body may hurt more than others, in addition, patients with very thick, dark hair may experience more discomfort than those with thin or light-coloured hair because thicker, darker hair absorbs more of the laser light during treatments.
Given that there are other Hair Removal Lasers on the market and more traditional methods, please discuss alternative options specific to your aesthetic needs.
Some alternative treatments can include:
- Other Laser Hair Removal
Patients need to be aware that they will first need to have a full consultation before you receive your first treatment. Depending on your consultation, we will determine if we can start immediately with the treatment or not.
If you are using certain medications, products, undergoing any other treatments, fallen pregnant, the hairs are too long or if the area you would like to have treated has been exposed to the sun 4 weeks before your appointment, we will ask you to reschedule your appointment with no compromises.
The reason we say this is that many people experience pigmentary changes, either lightening or darkening of the skin, if they are not honest in their consultation. This is by no means a form of scarring, even though people often believe that it is. Pigmentary changes following laser procedures are usually resolved within a few months. If this does occur, please contact NoviSkin immediately so that a physician can be informed and that a suitable solution, treatment or prescription can be given or administered.
Risks / Side Effects
Please find below a list of common side effects and risks, for a more comprehensive list and explanation, please refer to the consent form and discuss this with your NoviSkin doctor.
Blisters are rare but are more likely in people with darker complexions. Other potential side effects are:
- Redness, and
- Permanent scarring or changes in skin colour are rare
Mechanism of Action
Generally the ideal candidate for hair removal laser treatments is fair skin and dark hair, although good results can be achieved on darker skins. Treating someone with dark skin is normally quite challenging and the reason for this is that melanin, which is our epidermis, is designed to absorb light. Lasers emit light that is intended to destroy the hair’s follicle and root, which is found much deeper in the skin, below the epidermis. To get there a laser has to go through the epidermis. If there is melanin (cells which are responsible for the pigment/colour of the skin) in the epidermis, that melanin will do two things:
Melanin will steal the light away from what we are really trying to treat (the hair) and
It will make it possible for the laser to injure the epidermis.
The laser does not know that the surface of the skin containing melanin is not a target that we are trying to destroy.
Candela Corporations have integrated two aesthetic lasers, the GentleLASE® and GentleYAG® into a single machine called the GentleMax™.
The GentleLASE® is an Alexandrite laser which emits light at 755nm – meaning it is suitable for fair/light skins with dark hair as it is a shorter wavelength
The GentleYAG® is a Nd:YAG laser which emits the longest wavelength at 1064nm – meaning it is suitable for darker skins
The GentleMax™ (which is used at NoviSkin) is a laser that combines both the Alexandrite and the Nd:YAG lasers into one machine, therefore settings can be adjusted to suite a patient’s skin type and needs.
Post Care Instructions
We live in South Africa and the sun’s rays are potent. Being exposed to the sun does not necessarily mean physically lying in the sun; you are exposed to the sun’s rays just by walking from your front door to your car or driving with an open window even if it happens to be overcast outside.
We ask that you follow the home care advice given to you after the treatment. The two most important tips to remember about home care are:
- Do not to expose the area treated to the sun for up to 4 weeks after the treatment and Use a Sun Protective Factor of 50 on the treated area every day.
- Please contact us with any queries or questions you might still have or refer to our price list regarding the different areas that we treat.