Laser Hair Removal: Is It Safe?

A Brief Background

Hair removal lasers were introduced and approved for permanent hair reduction by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States in 1997. Since then, laser hair removal has been widely accepted and practiced by the public, mostly women, up until now. In fact, laser hair removal has become the basis of studies and reviews in published dermatology literature. The FDA defines the term “permanent” as a “long-term, stable reduction in the number of hairs regrowing after a treatment regime.” The misconception about laser hair removal is that hairs don’t regrow for a lifetime after the treatment. Women should understand that this treatment only permanently reduces the number of body hairs growing in the treated area. A friend testified after she underwent laser hair removal that her underarm hairs regrew after a few weeks but the hairs became lesser and thinner, like a baby’s hair. It is as if when you put your arms up, the hairs are not visible.

Laser hair removal becomes popular in the dermatology community because of its efficacy and immediate treatment. Lucky are those who have immediate result after one treatment session, but there are some who are required to undergo 3 to 8 treatments on large areas of the body like the arms and legs before they get satisfying results.

How It Works

Selective photothermolysis (SPTL) is the principle behind the laser hair removal. Specific wavelength of light and pulse duration are matched to produce effect to the targeted tissue without damaging the surrounding tissues. The laser damages dark target matter or the chromophore. The primary chromophore is the melanin. Melanin is a dark pigment that is also responsible for hair color and hair growth. The selective absorption of photons by laser energy enables it to remove only the black or brown hair. The laser emits light which will be absorbed by the melanin. The absorbed light is then transformed into heat for only a fraction of a second.

Is It Safe?

Laser treatment is proven to be a safe procedure. But, there are some factors that a person has to check before undergoing laser treatment.  To prevent complaints and complications after the treatment, make sure that:

1.      the medical center has a license. Meaning, its location, sanitation stricture, medical practitioners, staff, and machines meet all the medical standard requirement set by the government.

2.      all laser machines must be approved by the FDA and applied only by experienced and highly trained professionals.

3.      you are asked to undergo a pre-treatment consultation by the physician. This is to test your skin, hair, and color in order for the physician to identify which machine or treatment is beneficial and safe for you.