Tired of the unsightly fuzz? More irritated by the post-wax ingrowns? Hallelujah for laser hair treatments that destroy hair follicles and condemn them to their deaths. It sounds like a straightforward procedure but How effective are these treatments? Do they work on all skin types and hair colours? We gather answers from two Senior Aesthetic Consultants from SW1 Clinic, one of the largest aesthetic clinics in Singapore – Dr Chua Han Boon and Dr Michelle Lim. So, here’s laser hair removal 101…
How Laser Hair Removal Works
Dr Chua describes laser hair removal as a treatment that delivers a concentrated beam of light into the pigment of the targeted hair, which is converted to heat that damages the follicle and preventing future hair growth. Therefore, the thicker and darker the hair, the easier it is for light to detect it. This means that hair reduction is fast and effective for those with brown to black hair.
Does it Hurt?
The sensation most relate to is that of a rubber band being snapped against skin. Sounds scary but highly tolerable. “For first-timers and patients with low threshold for pain, we can apply numbing cream beforehand,” says Dr Chua. Dr Michelle agrees and adds that when the pre-laser work is done well, and patient reassured, the patients often feedback little to no pain even for sensitive spots like the bikini zone. The laser may leave the area pink, which usually goes away in an hour or two.
Will it Work on Me?
“Ideal candidates for laser hair removal are fair with dark and thick hair,” says Dr Chua.
“This big colour contrast between skin and hair allows the machine to accurately detect the pigment in hair instead of targeting the skin in individuals with darker skin tone. An inaccurate shot causes burning, pigmentation and scarring,” he explains.
However, thanks to technology, there are now advanced lasers that can work on Mediterranean and African skin tones. Unfortunately, both experts agree there is nothing in the market now that can work for blonde, red or grey hair (so don’t be duped). Dr Michelle highlights, “Pregnant women and those on certain medications such as Retin-A, Prozac and Doxycycline should avoid the procedure as well. This is because these are photosensitive drugs that when combined with lasers, cause skin damage in the form of hyperpigmentation, blisters and mild burns.”
What are the Types of Lasers for Hair Removals?
“Just like iPhone and Samsung which rank top in the smartphone industry, the latest lasers trending in the hair removal scene are the Soprano Ice Platinum laser as well as GentleYAG Pro and Cynosure lasers, which both use a long pulsed Nd:YAG wavelength,” quips Dr Michelle.
While both types can be used on fair and dark skin safely and effectively, Soprano Ice Platinum laser stands out for its combination of three wavelengths to penetrate even faster, deeper and with incredible precision into the hair follicle.
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How many Treatments will I Need?
Every person is different, but you can expect between six to eight treatments to eliminate most of the hair – the more hair you have, the more treatments are required. Dr Chua explains that as only hair in the active growing phase can be treated, the number of treatments is also dependent on hitting the hair in the growth cycles. “At SW1, we encourage patients who undergo our Soprano Ice Permanent Hair Removal treatment to return every four to six weeks.”
Do I Have to Prep?
Rest assured prepping is easy and doesn’t involve pain. “The hair follicle has to be intact for the laser to be effective, ideally 1-2mm, so waxing and epilation should be avoided at least 2 to 3 weeks before treatment,” says Dr Michelle. She also warned about the danger of sun exposure and tanning; any tanning before and sun exposure after treatment will put you at risk of skin discolouration.
Finding an experienced practitioner with medical-grade devices is important for the success of your hair removal journey as well.
What Can I Expect After the Treatment?
You may notice hair strands are still attached to skin immediately after treatment. This is because certain treatments like those using Soprano Ice, does not vaporise hairs. Instead, only hair follicles are destroyed, and the remaining hair strands will shed over the next few weeks. In spite of this, each laser hair removal session should leave skin relatively hair-free for one to two months.
However, only about a quarter of the hair is permanently gone. Therefore, every visit aims to kill another quarter of hair follicles until you achieve the desired results. While shaving throughout treatments are not discouraged, it is important to not wax of use depilatory creams. “By the third treatment, most of our patients are only shaving once every few weeks with minimal hair growth,” says Dr Michelle.
Read More: My First Laser Experience
Will be Hair Removal be Permanent?
“Destroyed hair follicles will no longer support hair growth but there is no way we could get every single last hair,” says Dr Chua. “80% to 90% permanent reduction of hair is achievable.”
This reduction may be temporary though as hormonal changes such as pregnancy or aging may bring about hair regrowth.
“But these hairs are usually new hairs and not from the follicles initially destroyed,” Dr Michelle says. Therefore, if you’re real lucky, hair laser removal can grant drastic results that last for a long time. Although laser hair removal isn’t perfect, we have hope and we’d trade in shaving and waxing for a few snaps any day.
SW1 Clinic offers Soprano Ice Permanent Hair Removal treatment from as low as $200 depending on area of treatment. It is also incorporated into their Removal and Revival Program which also features Quattro Toning using revolutionary Picosecond laser, and Skin Smoothening Peel Mask for glowing skin as smooth as silk.
SW1 Clinic is located on Level 13 of Orchard Paragon. Their contact telephone is 68178888. It is helmed by Dr Low Chai Ling and Dr Kenneth Lee, who also founded The Sloane Clinic in 2003. Their team of doctors who were also formerly from The Sloane Clinic include Dr Chua Han Boon, Dr Toby Hui, Dr Michelle Lim and plastic surgeon Dr Tan Ying Chien.