Are you one of those people who finds an almost childlike delight in running your hands over your freshly waxed legs? If so, I’m pretty sure that’s a feeling you want to hold on to for as long as possible – which explains why laser hair removal is so incredibly popular.
But whether you’re taking baby steps with an upper lip package or going the whole hog with a full-body one, you’re likely to have a couple of questions, so I asked Kosmoderma Clinics’ Dr. Chytra Anand to cover the basics. She’s responsible for the permanent fuzz-free status of countless Indian celebrities, so it’s fair to say she knows a thing or two about what it entails.
Read this before you make your appointment!
1/6 What is laser hair removal, really, and which parts does it work on?
“Laser hair removal basically involves an energy-based device that delivers heat or energy to the root of the hair, in order to heat up the blood supply that’s essential for its growth. When sufficient heat is produced, hair follicle is destroyed, stunting its growth and leading to permanent hair reduction.
The darker and thicker the hair the more effective the treatment, but the most important thing to remember is that the hair must be darker than the skin.
With this in mind, you can use a laser on pretty much all facial and body hair including that on the upper lip, cheeks, chin, side locks and neck, under arms, arms, legs, bikini area, abdomen, chest, back and butt.”
2/6 Is it safe? What are the side effects?
“Well, it’s technically considered a medical procedure and its devices are classified as Class-4, which means they need medical supervision while operating. There are 3 main types of laser devices – Alexandrite, Diode and YAG, meant for different skin and hair types, so it’s important that your practitioner picks one that’s appropriate for you. If used inappropriately, they can cause long lasting damage – including blindness – so be careful and go to someone who knows what they’re doing!
Though side-effects are quite rare, some that are possible are swelling and redness around the treated area for half a day to two days, and scabbing – although this is really rare and often happens when it’s done on tanned skin.
Indian patients should also be aware of a phenomenon called paradoxical hair growth, where insufficient laser energy leads to fine hair actually growing longer and thicker, instead of getting destroyed.
One more thing: if you have polycystic ovaries, hyperthyroid or insulin resistance, or you’ve tanned in the sun recently, let your doctor know.”
3/6 Does it hurt?
“Not really! The procedure today is almost pain-free, though you might feel just a bit of heat like a pinch or a sting in sensitive areas like over a bone. If you have sensitive skin, an anesthetic or numbing cream one hour prior to the procedure can help, especially around the bikini area.”
4/6 Who's an ideal candidate for laser hair removal?
“Typically anyone who’s had a year of regular menstural periods. You can’t wax or thread hair during the course of treatment, but you can shave or bleach instead. And like I said earlier, the darker and coarser the hair, the better. The hair has to be darker than the skin. When it comes to treating fine hair, it requires skill, experience and a suitable laser device.”
5/6 How long does it last?
“One full laser procedure reduces 80% to 90% of your hair permanently. If there are any hairs left post procedure, they’ll be finer, sparser, and will grow at a much slower pace. This can then be removed further with more sessions until the area is entirely hairless.”
6/6 How much does it cost?
“The cost of the procedure really depends on the type of laser device and the number of sessions you need. To give you an idea, it’s about Rs.1,500 per session for the upper lip area, and Rs.2,500 to Rs.3,000 per session for the underarms. A full body laser should typically cost anywhere between Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 150,000.
And please remember that while you might come across lots of discounted offers, make sure the place uses a laser that is USFDA approved, as these are the only ones certified safe and effective for use on skin of colour.”