Is Laser Hair Removal Really Safe?
What are your options for laser hair removal and is the procedure safe?
Have you heard stories from other women that laser hair removal is painful, slow and less convenient than traditional hair removal methods? Recently, according to The Dr. Oz Show, all of that has changed with new technologies. But is it safe?
“If you are tired of shaving, waxing and plucking you may be tempted to try a more cutting edge approach. There are now new devices in laser hair removal that allows every skin tone to potentially get it. But, is laser hair removal safe?” asks Dr. Oz with special guest dermatologist Doris Day, M.D. who tells viewers that laser hair removal has come a long way.
“With women there just are parts of the body we don’t want hair to grow. We spend so much time, it’s really a project with tweezing and shaving and waxing and all the things we do, and every day in my office we see the consequences of ingrown hairs from waxing and razor bumps from shaving,” says Dr. Day who sympathizes what many women have to go through in the pursuit of a smooth silky skin appearance in problem areas of the body.
Dr. Day explains that unlike the older laser hair removal technologies that caused a lot of physical discomfort that lasted a long time, the newer hair removal devices used today are better able to control the energy of the laser, remove more hair with each application of the laser and are virtually painless.
Dr. Oz tells viewers that how laser hair removal works is that when high energy is applied toward the skin’s surface, the hairs absorb the energy, which then heats up the shaft of the hairs going below the skin and sometimes as deep down as the bulb of the hair follicle. If enough of the heat makes it to the bulb, the entire hair follicle may wind up irreversibly damaged so that new hair will not grow back from that same spot.
“After several cycles of treatment, the hair may no longer be able to grow―making shaving a thing of the past,” says Dr. Oz.
Dr. Day tells viewers that the FDA defines permanent hair removal as hair growth that not does not reappear within two years following treatment. However, she explains that this permanent hair removal may not be as permanent as it sounds as hair sometimes does grow back over the years. But, when hair does reappear in laser treated areas, it is typically much finer and easier to deal with toward future removal with just a touch-up or light shaving needed.
Dr. Oz and Dr. Day explain that why the new laser methods are not painful is because the laser energy does not go onto the skin and cause damage; but rather, the energy is absorbed by the dark pigments in the hair follicles keeping the damaging energy within each hair and thereby causing its destruction without harming the skin.
Dr. Day points out that prior to having laser hair removal that it is important to shave the hair above the skin first to prevent the laser-heated hair from collapsing onto the skin and causing a skin burn. She also adds that the coarser and darker the hair the better the treatment works, so this method is well suited for treating underarms, bikini areas and the legs.
Another benefit to the new laser hair removal method is that women who have pigmented skin are no longer at risk of burns from the laser energy—which is absorbed by dark pigmentation—because the hairs are pulled up and away from the skin as the laser is applied in controlled bursts that target just the hairs.
“With the face you have to be a little bit more careful about because it is hormonally driven,” says Dr. Day who advises viewers to have your doctor examine your facial hair first before removal so that you are not hiding a symptom of a hormonal problem such as polycystic ovarian syndrome. “But, it [laser hair removal] can be done in that area very well too.”
As a demonstration of how laser hair removal is performed, Dr. Day applies laser treatment using a small computer mouse-sized device to the underarm region of one guest viewer. Using just 3 presses of the device lasting approximately 1-2 seconds each onto a different area of the underarm, the procedure is finished with no pain and only a slight reddening of the skin.
Dr. Day tells viewers that within a few days the treated follicles will fall out and that the total treatment involves 4-8 applications about a month apart to match the hair growth cycle. Treatment costs anywhere from $75 and up.
“It’s almost less expensive than waxing,” says Dr. Day who advises viewers to have the procedure done by a dermatologist who knows about skin and understands the technology so that there is a minimal risk to the skin from the procedure. In fact, a significant rise in laser hair removal lawsuits have sprung up lately due to laser hair removal treatments being performed by non-physicians.
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