Find Out If Laser Hair Removal is Worth the Hype – and Money!

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Find Out If Laser Hair Removal is Worth the Hype - and Money

It’s a well-known fact that with our skin-tones in varying shades of browns and dark body hair to go with it, Indian women find themselves at the deeper end of the ‘hairy’ scale. Many women are comfortable in their own ‘not-tampered-with’ skin and embrace their body hair. Then, there are those who would prefer going without it, and dedicate time and effort to getting rid of the unwanted fuzz.

Is Laser Hair Removal Worth It?

There are multiple methods available on the market for ‘de-fuzzing’ and laser hair removal is gaining prominence over the conventional methods, as a one-stop solution to all hair removal needs. With a track record for being quick, clean, and a significant success rate, more and more women seem to be inclined towards this method – but certain concerns and risks, the expense factor being one of them, have them pondering over the cost-benefit analysis of the procedure. In this article, we address all the benefits, risks, and real-life accounts of women who’ve tried it – and LOVED IT!

What is the Laser Hair Removal Technique?

Laser hair removal uses a laser – an intense, pulsating beam of light – to destroy hair follicles and remove unwanted hair. Pigments in the hair follicle absorb the light which destroys it and also inhibits future hair growth. The laser targets mainly melanin, a pigment which gives the hair its colour.
It is important to note that this treatment does not provide a permanent solution, contrary to popular notion. It helps to reduce hair growth to a large extent, but does not stop it completely. In fact, experts consider it a success if the hair growth is inhibited by 70 to 90% after being treated upon. There will be a number of sessions that the person has to go through; however, the final results can last as long as 6 months or even a year, without requiring any touch-ups.

What is the Laser Hair Removal Technique?

Types of Laser Treatments for Hair Removal

It is important to understand that the person’s skin and hair play a role in laser treatments. Seeing as how the laser targets the pigment in hair follicles, people with dark skin and/or with light hair will find this method to be challenging. In the case of people with dusky skin tones, the laser can’t differentiate between the melanin in their skin against their hair. As for people with light hair, the melanin concentrate in their hair will be low which also makes it difficult for the laser to find.
There are different types of lasers that the person’s individual requirements call for.

1. Nd: YAG Laser

This laser is meant for darker skin tones because of its weaker melanin absorption. Since dark skin has the tendency to absorb laser light more than light skin can, the Nd: YAG laser was developed as a safer option for ethnic skin types. YAG sends out long wavelengths which can bypass the darker epidermis, to target the hair follicles within. By doing so, it penetrates deep into the skin and reduces the risk of epidermal/surface damage. But since it absorbs less melanin, it is not very effective for women with fine hair.

2. Alexandrite Laser

Used for people who fall in the medium-brown range of skin tones (which include wheatish, warm honey, and olive complexions), it transmits a long wavelength similar to that of YAG, but has been found to cause scarring.

3. Diode Laser

This laser is relatively new but seems to be working its magic on dark skin types and coarse hair. Its longer wavelength allows for a safer and deeper penetration. But because this laser is very recent, its long-term effects are still unknown.

4. Ruby Laser

One of the oldest systems around, it’s meant for light-skinned women and is known to be more pain-free compared to other lasers. However, it can only be used on small areas of skin.

Comparison to Other Hair Removal Techniques

We’re not strangers to the various ways and methods that help us remove our unwanted body hair right at home or on the monthly visit to the beauty parlour (fortnightly, for some of us!), be it creams, shaving or waxing, and epilation. Each of these techniques has their own pros and cons. Let’s have a look at how these methods compare against laser hair removal.

1. The Mess Factor

Be it shaving, using creams or any of the at-home/at-the-parlour methods, the subsequent cleanup of both, your body and your surroundings, is inevitable. Laser hair removal, on the other hand, lets you bypass the messy stage.

2. The Pain Factor

Let’s be real about one thing: Beauty can sometimes be synonymous with agony. Shaving and creams are the only methods of hair removal that can relieve you of excessive pain, but even the slightest nick with your razor is pretty painful, while creams may pose the side-effects of irritation and redness after use. Laser hair removal can also be mildly painful, like little pricks on your skin. Keep in mind, however, all of this also depends on the individual’s pain threshold. It has been mentioned that the pain is similar to a rubber band being snapped across the skin.

3. The Time Factor

Regrowth of hair is fastest with creams and shaving, and can be seen within 3 to 4 days of removal. Waxing and epilation show better results as they remove hair follicles by the root, because of which the hair can take 2 to 3 weeks to grow back. Laser hair removal, however, aims at hair reduction and doesn’t show hair growth for a prolonged period of time, close to 12 months even.

4. The Money Factor

There will be no gasps of surprise when you come to know that the better the method of hair removal, the more expensive it gets. Methods that can be done at home cost far less than sessions for laser hair removal. The cost is also higher as multiple sessions are required with the laser for best results.

Woman undergoing laser hair removal

Intense Pulsed Light Vs. Laser Hair Removal

The difference between intense pulsed Light (IPL) and laser hair removal begins with the very fact that IPL is not a laser. In laser machines, a single wavelength, which has a very concentrated beam, targets the melanin in the hair follicles. Laser machines also direct more heat at the hair follicles.
An IPL, on the other hand, is a hand-held device that can also be used at home. It produces a broad spectrum of wavelengths because of which it cannot come together as a concentrated beam, and therefore, the penetration into the pigment in the hair follicle is shallower.
While hair removal through IPL is much cheaper, it will not be as effective as a laser hair removal treatment, owing to the IPL’s lack of precision in penetrating into hair follicles. There is also a tendency for the light to be absorbed the surrounding skin, which puts people of darker skin types at risk of burns. Lasers, however, can also be used on body areas of all sizes, are very precise, and takes just a pulse of a second to treat different hairs at the same time.

Electrolysis Vs. Laser Hair Removal

Although often touted as a permanent solution for hair removal, laser hair removal provides an average of 70 to 90% hair reduction, not removal, in the areas that have been treated. The regrowth of the remaining follicles occurs due to them not having been completely destroyed during your earlier sessions.
Electrolysis, on the other hand, is the only method recognized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Medical Association as a permanent method of hair removal. Here, an epilator device is pierced into the skin and uses shortwave radio frequencies in hair follicles to inhibit new hair growth. It damages the hair follicles and prevents it from growing, as well as causing existing hairs to fall out. Multiple sessions are required to achieve the best results.
Unlike lasers which target the pigment in the hair follicle, because of which people with light hair find little use for this method, electrolysis attacks the hair follicle itself. Due to this, it can be used on anyone in spite of their hair or skin colour. Electrolysis can also be slightly more painful, although, it does depend on the person’s tolerance to pain.

How to Prepare for Laser Hair Removal Sessions

There are certain instructions that you need to follow before your hair removal treatment, and some of it starts a month in advance.

1. Consult with the Dermatologist

The doctor needs to know your medical history, including any negative reactions towards certain medicines. Discuss with him, your expectations, concerns, and doubts about the procedure.

2. Find the Right Clinic

It is important that you find a clinic and experts who are reputed and have had good reviews. Look around the clinic when you first approach it – is it maintained well? Is it clean and spotless? Do the people working there look professional? Cliched as these questions sound, they help you judge the place better.

3. Undergo a Patch Test

It is imperative that a small test is conducted on the skin to check whether laser hair treatment is compatible for your skin or not, and to rule out any underlying problems that can occur. Once you’ve got the go-ahead from your doctor, you can start preparing for your appointments.

4. Say ‘No’ to Tanning

Whether under the sun or with creams, tanning should be avoided for at least a month before the procedure is due to happen. If spending time outdoors is inevitable, invest in a good sunscreen.

5. Stick to Shaving

Do not wax or pluck your hair at least for 2 to 4 weeks before your appointment, as this can reduce the effectiveness of the laser treatment. Same goes for bleach and depilatory creams as well. Unlike during your waxing appointments, don’t let your hair grow out – clean-shaving the area a day before your laser treatment is necessary.

6. Take Your Medication

If your doctor has prescribed any medicines or vitamins before the treatment, ensure that you follow the prescription closely.

7. Clean Your Skin

At the treatment site, clean the area you are getting treated on, and leave it free of any cosmetics, lotion, or deodorant.

8. Choose the Right Time

It is important to space out the treatment across 4 to 6 weeks, so that the laser is able to identify the hair and get rid of it. Hair growth has three main stages – growth (anagen), dormant (telogen) and death (catagen). Since laser works on active hair follicles, it is important to target it in the anagen stage, which takes the time period mentioned earlier.

9. Wear Appropriate Clothing

On the day of the procedure, ensure that you are wearing loose-fitting clothing that can expose the area to be treated. Tight-fitting or abrasive clothing can irritate the area once it has been treated, and if any topical cream is used during the procedure, you don’t want any of it getting on your clothes either.

What Happens During the Laser Hair Removal Procedure?

Since laser treatment for hair removal is a medical procedure, there is a certain procedure that will be followed. First, the hairs will be trimmed so that they rise only a few millimetres above the skin’s surface. After this, according to the location, colour, and thickness of the hair to be treated, as well as your skin colour, the laser equipment will be adjusted accordingly. Protective eye-gear and an optional topic anaesthetic cream will be provided. Depending on the type of laser used, there may be a cooling tip or gel that will be used to protect your skin.
Next, the technician will test a pulse of light on the area that is to be treated, to check if the device is set to the best settings, and for any negative reactions. If everything is okay, the procedure will begin, which will be indicated by a slight stinging on the area being treated. Smaller areas like the upper lip, underarms and so on won’t take too much time, while large areas like the back can take up to a couple of hours.

Laser Hair Removal – Post-Treatment Care

A laser treatment calls for aftercare as well. The treated hair will start falling out in the month after you’ve gone through the procedure. These are the following things that can be done to ensure that you feel comfortable post your hair removal session.

  • Right after the session is completed, you will be given cold packs, anti-inflammatory creams or lotions or cold water to reduce any discomfort. The treated area can look and feel slightly sunburned for one or two days.
  • Avoid exposure to the sun for a couple of days after the treatment. Use sunscreen when your skin has healed.

Watch: My Laser Hair Removal Journey

Benefits of Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal has various advantages that make it a preferred method over other hair removal techniques.

  • It’s an effective method, showing close to 70 to 90% of reduction in hair growth.
  • Hair growth, if any, happens over a very long period of time, and is still minimal.
  • It’s very quick. Depending on the area that you are targeting, the duration may change but is still works faster than other methods. Facial hair removal can be done in under half an hour!
  • It also helps you save the time that you spend on the tedious process of conventional hair removal.
  • Shaving your hair is actually acceptable in between laser treatment sessions, as opposed to the time you can’t shave during your waxing appointments. Laser treatments actually work better on shaved hair.
  • Ingrown hair from shaving or waxing can actually be treated by laser hair removal. Say goodbye to those strawberry legs!

Side-Effects of Laser Hair Removal

There can be certain side-effects around the treated area after the procedure such as:

  • Skin burn
  • Itchiness around the treated area
  • Redness of the skin
  • Swelling around the treated area
  • Skin discolouration
  • Pain, tingling, or numbness around the treated area
  • While blisters are rare, it can occur in people with darker skin tones

Apart from this, the procedure is also highly expensive and regrowth of hair is possible even after multiple sessions, requiring a touch-up every few months as required.

Laser hair removal for arms

How Much Does Laser Hair Removal Cost in India?

Depending upon the area that needs to be treated, the colour, and the thickness of the hair, the costs can vary from person to person. Each session can range from a minimum of Rs. 1500 to Rs. 5000 per session for smaller areas; while larger areas can cost up to Rs. 30000 in one sitting. Since the treatment requires 6 to 8 sessions to be fully effective, there’s no doubt that it will be an expensive procedure. But in the long run, the treatment pays off for itself when you will no longer be spending time and money on those gruelling waxing sessions at the parlour!

Laser Hair Removal in India

There are plenty of reputed clinics in India where laser hair removal is performed. A few are listed below:

1. VLCC

With over a 100 branches across India, their rates begin at Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 4,000 per session for smaller areas, and from Rs. 3,000 per session for smaller areas in clinics in Tier-1 cities.

2. Oliva Clinic

They have 15 branches across the cities of Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Chennai. Rates begin at Rs. 2,500 per session for smaller areas, and Rs. 15,000 per session for full body hair removal.

3. Kaya Skin Clinic

Over a 100 branches across India. A full body hair removal session starts at Rs. 69,990, while a session for the underarms begin at Rs. 4,995.

4. Clinic Dermatech

With 12 branches across Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra, a package for an area as small as upper lips can start at Rs. 7,000 (not including GST).

5. Berkowitz Hair and Skin Clinic

With 10 branches across Delhi, Berkowits charges Rs. 1,50,000 for a full body hair removal package. The package for facial hair removal is approximately around Rs. 20000.

6. Therapie Clinic

A branch of the Europe-based clinic in Mumbai, their rates start from Rs. 1,500 per session for the smaller areas like upper lips, and range upto Rs. 12,500 per session for full legs, arms, and the bikini area.

Laser Hair Removal Reviews

The following are reviews about 4 women’s experiences with laser hair removal. Take a look!

1. Ani, wrote the following guest post on the beauty website, Peaches and Blush.

“I was 13 when I got the laser treatment done, so I’d never gotten my underarms waxed before getting it done. I’m 19 now, and I get my underarms waxed once in six months or so. Even then the hair growth is hardly visible. There’ll be like 3-4 strands of hair.”
As a recommendation, Ani mentions the following – “If you’re still in two minds about it, get a consultation. Once you speak to the doctor, and get your hair analyzed, only then will you find out how much hair reduction you can expect, how many sittings you’ll need and the like.”

2. Gia Kashyap, who started her blog ‘www.giasaysthat.com’ with an aim to share her enthusiasm for creativity through words and images, shares her experience with laser hair removal.

“I went to a skin specialist and she told me that I will need about 6 sessions. Every sitting would be for about 15-30 minutes depending on the area.”
And she could not be happier about the final results! “I think it’s amazing.I love it. My hair is way thinner now and if I have to go out, all I do is shave. My upper lip doesn’t have any hair but my neck and chin has a bit of hair. I am so glad I opted for it. Recommended Only if you really NEED it.If you’re a busy person who cannot hit the parlour regularly, you should go for it or a person who suffers from extreme hair growth.”

3. Nitara N., a content writer from Mumbai, opted for laser hair removal when she got tired of the tedious alternatives.

She writes, “Around my early twenties, to my horror I discovered that my chin was sprouting hair, thick hair. My hormones were imbalanced and I was told I’d have to sport this evening shadow on my chin for life. After 4 years of plucking, crying, hiding from the world and feeling like a man, I decided I should try laser, even though I was told the hair would come back because of my hormones. 6 Sittings later, I was hair-free! The procedure did not hurt my face nor my pocket. A year later, the results are still the same.”

4. Tina B., works in Marketing, and swears by the physical and mental benefits of the laser hair removal treatment she went through.

“I was initially diagnosed with hirsutism, a condition where testosterone levels are abnormally higher in the female body. Things didn’t get any better when PCOS came along a few years later and added to the excessive hair growth I already had.”
Since Tina had hormonal complications to deal with, she was told that her treatment would work in tandem with her ongoing hormonal medication. It also meant that she would have to go through more sessions than a person with no hormonal complications. But the procedure has shown favourable results. She says, “Although the entire procedure is painless, one may take 2-3 sessions to get used to it. I have completed a fair amount of sessions and must confess that results are quite impressive. There is a visible reduction in the texture and amount of hair growth. Other than physical benefits, I have regained a sense of self-confidence, which somewhere got lost battling with all these complications since a very young age.”

Laser Hair Removal – Before and After

Here is a look at the remarkable results of laser hair removal.

Laser Hair Removal – Before and After
Source: https://auraskininstitute.com/, http://www.laskinnovita.com/

Dermatologists Vs. Aestheticians

Since there are plenty of cosmetic companies who are offering laser hair removal services, it would be prudent to know that the procedure is a medical one, and thus, requires care and technical knowledge. Dr Sailesh Konda, a dermatologist and assistant professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine, says that dermatologists posses the same and are able to handle your queries and concerns as well. In certain cases, it so happens that aestheticians, who have been trained for a short while by a company representative, may not know what to do when a complication arises. In such a case, it is best to choose a dermatologist to conduct the procedure.

FAQs

Apart from the concerns discussed earlier, there can be some more questions that arise in the minds of those looking to undergo laser hair removal. The following FAQs have been answered in consultation with dermatologists, Dr Sonia Tekchandani, MBBS, DDV, FAM (The Wedding Clinic, Pune); and Dr Shikha Gandhi, MBBS, DVD (Vatsalya Hospital, Pune).

1. Is the procedure painful?

Pain is subjective and depends on person to person. But the overall experience is not very painful, and feel similar to a mild stinging sensation.

2. Does the cost depend on the type of laser used?

No, the cost depends on the area being treated, and can differ from clinic to clinic as well.

3. Can laser hair removal be done during pregnancy?

It is not recommended to undergo this procedure during pregnancy. However, if a pregnant woman chooses to go through with it, it will not be done in the first trimester and will be done only during the second or third trimester. Even in this case, the areas of the abdomen, breasts, and bikini line will be avoided.

4. Can laser hair removal be done while I’m on my periods?

Yes, you can go through with the procedure if you’re on your periods. However, the body can be more sensitive and tender during the menstrual cycle. Again, the pain threshold is dependent on the individual.

5. Is it safe to get the procedure done through a cosmetologist as well?

No, it is best to go through laser hair removal by a dermatologist, or a certified practitioner under the supervision of a dermatologist, as expertise matters a lot. In India, there are several beauty parlours that claim to do the procedure, but these are not medically approved. In fact, in foreign countries, beauty parlours are not allowed to conduct this procedure!

With several pros outweighing the cons of the procedure, laser hair removal does seem to be an investment that shows favourable results during the cost-benefit analysis. Being that its effects are long-lasting, you can finally say goodbye to strawberry legs, the parlour aunties’ judgements, the messy bathrooms – all your hair removal problems – and say hello to smooth, hairless skin!