Everything You Need To Know About Laser Hair Removal

If you've ever wondered how painful it is, or if hair will still grow back, read this.
by Tisha Caedo
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TL;DR?

  • Laser hair removal uses highly concentrated light to destroy the hair.
  • It DOES NOT permanently remove hair, but slows down hair growth.
  • During the treatment, it feels like a rubber band is snapping on your wrist = TOLERABLE.
  • More sensitive areas can be given anesthetics, making it pain-free.
  • Don't get a tan before your laser procedure.
  • After, avoid the sun like the plague.
  • ALWAYS wear sunscreen.
  • Laser hair removal technology is SAFE and there are various price points for different budgets!

***

With the growing body positivity and feminism movements this year, it seems that more women are "taking" their bodies back and opting not to shave/pluck/tweeze/wax their body hairand there's nothing wrong with that. But if you still want to have a smooth, hairless bod, there's nothing wrong with that either!

So if you're part of the latter and you're looking for a semi-permanent solution to your frequent trips to various waxing and threading salons, here's a complete guide to all things laser hair removal:

When The Laser Was Invented

The desire to remove unwanted body hair has existed since the beginning of time, but the use of lasers, to be specific, only came about in 1960, when Theodore H. Maiman designed the first laser to destroy hair follicles, reports Curious History. But the first generation of lasers could not be controlled, and thus, damage to the skin was inevitable. [via Dermanetwork]

According to the National Institutes of Health, in the 50 years since laser hair removal was first invented, the technology has been refined and will continue to be updated in the future. So if it's already amazing today, what more 10, 20, or 30 years from now?

What Is Laser Hair Removal?

Laser hair removal involves the beaming of highly concentrated light into hair follicles. The pigment in the hair follicles absorbs the light, thus completely destroying the hair. To perform the procedure, AAD (American Academy of Dermatology) explains "The skin is held taut and treated with the laser. Many patients say that the laser pulses feel like warm pinpricks or a rubber band being snapped against the skin."

If you're wondering what the "IPL" in laser hair removal is, Dr. Leilani Sy of Flawless Clinic says it stands for intense pulse lightbut it isn't *actually* a laser as it emits multiple wavelengths of light, while lasers only emit one. A spokesperson for SK:N clinic explained to The Telegraph that "IPL is far less effective than laser hair removal. The energy is produced by a lamp, a little like a light bulb, and produces a variety of light waves, meaning that it is more diffused and less powerful and usually limited to use on fairer skin types."


Today in the Philippines, there are more than five different kinds being used, with Dr. Sy explaining that ruby and alexandrite lasers are just a few of the types. Dr. Roxanne Velasco of Belo Medical Group also shares that they use five lasers on different platforms: Diode, Nd:YAG, and Near-Infrared Light.

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One thing to note, though, before you get the procedure done: Laser hair removal does not permanently remove hair as it only slows down hair growth. [via Mayo Clinic]

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How It Works

If you're planning on getting laser hair removal soon, ~preparation~ is key with this procedure. WebMD states "it's more than just zapping unwanted hair." Before the actual treatment, ask your doctor for a patch test in each area you're having it done, as skin and hair behave differently in different areas.

But one of the most important tips to remember before you get laser hair removal is to stay out of the sun. Mayo Clinic reports that "a tan increases the risk of side effects. If you have a tan—either from sun exposure or sunless tanning products—wait until it fades completely before undergoing laser hair removal. Some doctors recommend staying out of the sun for up to six weeks before laser hair removal."

Once you're ready to go and are already at the clinic, you will be led to a room that is specifically for laser treatments. Then, "the laser equipment will be adjusted according to the color, thickness, and location of your hair being treated as well as your skin color."


"When the doctor activates the laser, it will pass through your skin to the tiny sacs (follicles) where hair growth originates. The intense heat from the laser beam damages the hair follicles, which inhibits hair growth. Some discomfort in the skin is possible, and you'll likely feel a sensation of cold from the cooling device or gel," according to Mayo Clinic.

What To Avoid After Getting It Done

The only thing that is as important as properly preparing for your laser hair removal treatment is HOW to take care of it after the procedure—i.e. avoiding all the possible side effects, which include skin lightening OR darkening. After all, you wouldn’t want all that hard work to be for nothing, right?

Aside from having to deal with immediate redness and swelling, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, you should avoid direct sunlight hitting your treated skin, including tanning beds, sun lamps, or any other indoor tanning equipment. Use sunscreen whenever you're under the sun, and be prepared for any hair shedding, which can be mistaken for regrowth, in the first few days and weeks of your treatment.

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Why You Shouldn't Be Scared Of It

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Since laser hair removal involves new technology, according to Dr. Sy, "it took a while before people developed confidence [in the treatment] as more studies were being made after it was commercialized." The truth is, women (and of course, men) shouldn't be afraid of the procedure because "the technology is safe, widely available, comes in affordable price ranges, and offers longer lasting results." 

Dr. Roxanne Velasco also shares that the reason why many people are still scared of getting laser hair removal is because they think it hurts, they're afraid of the side effects, or "they think it costs too much." But she says that the pain is tolerable: The feeling is comparable to rubber band snaps, but as you go on with the treatment session after session, you will feel less of this because your hair is also becoming [fewer]. Also, for sensitive body parts like the bikini area, topical anesthetics can be applied before the treatment for a more comfortable and an almost pain-free session.

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Where You Can Get Them And How Much They Cost

Various clinics in Manila now offer laser hair removal services. And if you think they're expensive, think again. Laser hair removal being considered "expensive" is one of the biggest myths, says Dr. Sy. There are actually A LOT of options available in the market today, depending on your budget.

For example, she reports that Flawless Clinic's laser hair removal sessions cost P3,500 each, while SmartPL Hair Removal, a different kind of laser hair removal, can cost P2,500 per session. They also offer lifetime packages which can range from P15,600 to P99,600.

At Belo Medical Group, Dr. Velasco says their sessions start at P5,600 for the kilikili, with each session being done every four to six weeks. But of course, the bigger the area you're going to treat, the pricier it gets. 

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