Light-based hair removal

Purpose:

To remove facial and body hair.

The treatment:

This treatment should be carried out by a trained operator in an establishment registered by the Healthcare Commission.

Hair follicles are heated using the laser beam. This damages the hair follicle, which prevents the hair from growing again. Each treatment may take between 15 minutes to over an hour. Your eyes must be protected with specially designed goggles during the treatment and there may be a certain amount of pain.

The number of treatments needed will depend on the area to be treated and the system which is used - different systems will work differently on different skin types and hair colours. In addition, the laser beam only works on hair follicles which are actively growing at the time of the treatment - and hair will continue to grow from follicles which are not active at the time of the treatment. This means that a course of treatments may be needed before the area is fully clear of hair. The duration of this course of treatments may be up to a year.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) systems (which include Light Heat Energy (LHE) systems) can also be used for hair removal. Although these sources of light are different to laser beams in that laser beams are more concentrated, they work in the same way as a laser beam when removing hair.

The area may be red and a raised rash may be present which should resolve over 24 hours.

The results:

Long-term - but not permanent - hair removal can be achieved with lasers, IPL and LHE machines. Further courses of treatment may be needed if hormonal changes cause hair regrowth, or if hair follicles which were dormant at the time of the course of treatment become active and grow new hair.

You will need to avoid sun exposure / tanning before and after the treatment.

The risks:

After the treatment the skin may be red and sensitive, but this will be temporary. Light based hair removal treatments can cause skin blisters or burns which can lead to mild scarring and changes in skin colour or pigment.

Before you start:

Make sure that your chosen clinic is registered with the Healthcare Commission, and ensure that your nurse or practitioner holds BTEC qualifications or equivalent in light-based treatments. You should also check that your nurse or practitioner has experience in treating different hair colour and pigmentation types. You should also make sure that your chosen clinic has a light-based system which can achieve the result you want for your hair and pigmentation type.

Also see:

Electrolysis

Procedure information is copyright Department of Health (http://www.dh.gov.uk. Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence.