Laser hair removal has become an increasingly popular cosmetic treatment in Calgary, Alberta over the years, with many people seeking a permanent solution to unwanted hair growth for Brazilian, underarms, legs, arms, back, chest, and pretty much any area on the body. However, some patients report unsatisfactory results, despite undergoing several treatments. In this blog, we will explore some of the reasons why some laser hair removal does not work well and why actual lasers like Nd:YAG and Alexandrite are much better and safer than IPL for laser hair removal.
Why some laser hair removal does not work well
1. Not selecting the correct laser for your skin type and hair color
One of the most important factors that contribute to successful laser hair removal is selecting the correct laser for your skin type and hair color. Different lasers have different wavelengths (depths in the skin) that target specific pigmentations in the hair follicle or target the blood supply to the hair follicle. For instance, Alexandrite lasers are best suited for lighter skin tones and lighter hair (but can treat dark hair as well), while Nd:YAG lasers are safe for darker skin tones, but only work for darker hair. If the wrong laser is used, the hair follicle may not absorb enough energy, resulting in ineffective hair removal. Worse yet, if the wrong laser is used (for example the Alexandrite on a dark-skinned patient) this could result in burns and pigmentation changes.
2. Not undergoing enough treatments
Laser hair removal is a gradual process that requires multiple treatments to achieve permanent hair reduction. Some patients may only undergo a few sessions and expect to see significant results, but this is not always the case. Depending on the area being treated, the thickness of the hair, and individual hair growth cycles, patients may require anywhere from 6 sessions to 16+ sessions to achieve permanent removal of 95% of the hair. Many clinics are telling clients that only 6 sessions are necessary, but as everyone has different amounts of hair and there are different thicknesses of hair on different areas of the body, this is simply not accurate.
3. Not preparing the skin properly before treatment
To ensure the laser energy is effectively absorbed by the hair follicle, the skin needs to be prepared correctly before treatment. This involves shaving the area to be lasered within 24 hours before the appointment, avoiding any sun exposure for at least 5 weeks before the session, and avoiding any creams, lotions, or makeup on the treatment area on the day of the procedure.
4. Hormonal changes
Hormonal changes can have a significant impact on hair growth, and laser hair removal may not be as effective if these changes occur. Clients with PCOS or endometriosis may see increased hair growth in hormonal areas like the lower face, neck, chest, and abdomen. This means that laser hair removal should not be started until the medical concern has been managed with the proper medications. Once the hormones have been stabilized, then laser hair removal can be successful, but may require more treatments than typical treatments.
Why Nd:YAG and Alexandrite lasers are better than IPL for laser hair removal
There are several types of lasers used in laser hair removal, including Alexandrite, Nd:YAG, and IPL (intense pulsed light). While all of these methods can be effective, Nd:YAG and Alexandrite lasers are generally considered to be far superior to IPL for several reasons:
1. Precision targeting
Nd:YAG and Alexandrite lasers are more precise in targeting hair follicles than IPL. This precision allows the laser energy to be concentrated in the hair follicle, reducing the risk of damage to surrounding tissue.
2. Effective on all skin types
IPL is absolutely not suitable for all skin types (darker skin clients should NEVER be treated with IPL) and can be less effective on lighter hair. Nd:YAG lasers, on the other hand, can be used safely and effectively on all skin types.
3. Better for coarse hair
Nd:YAG and Alexandrite lasers are more effective in removing coarse hair than IPL. Coarse hair is often more challenging to remove and requires a more powerful laser to target the hair follicle effectively.
4. Fewer side effects
IPL can be associated with more side effects than Nd:YAG and Alexandrite lasers. These side effects can include redness, swelling, and blistering. Nd:YAG and Alexandrite lasers are higher quality, more powerful, and more precise, meaning the settings do not have to be as high to reach the desired outcome. This means that with less heat and also the use of cooling machines, which can be attached to the laser handpiece, there are significantly fewer risks of burns.