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Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent, Safe, Worth It? Dark Skin, Side Effects, Cancer, Home Lasers, Burns

Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent, Safe, Worth It? Dark Skin, Side Effects, Cancer, Home Lasers, Burns

The truth about laser hair removal is it safe on darker skin can you use it for blonde hair gray hair red hair if you use it around the bikini area can it cause infertility can you use it if you have moles or tattoos and can it cause skin cancer i’ll be answering all of these questions and more hi ladies i’m dr simi former surgeon current gp and cosmetic doctor welcome to my channel where we discuss all things skin and women’s health and in today’s video we will be talking laser hair removal so laser hair removal is actually one of the most requested cosmetic procedures and although we use that term laser quite a lot i don’t think many people realize that laser is actually an acronym and it stands for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation now regular light is made up of different wavelengths and these scatter out and travel in different directions laser light however is different from regular light because it’s made up of a single wavelength of light and that single wavelength of light all travel in the same direction to form a narrow beam that’s extremely focused and precise and this means that we’re able to deliver high amounts of energy exactly where we want it to be although the uses of lasers are vast in this video i’m just going to be focusing on lasers that are used for laser hair removal and actually there’s several of them and then we also have a different type of light called ipl and i’m mentioning it because i want you to know that it is not laser now the issue is that there are some clinics that claim that they’re offering laser hair removal but actually what they’re offering is ipl hair removal in ipl the light source that’s used is a little bit like a large flash lamp the wavelengths that are emitted are scattered and they travel in different directions so the light energy is not as focused in true laser however the energy is more focused it’s more precise it means that you tend to need fewer sessions there’s less risk of experiencing burns or problems with pigmentation if it’s used in the right hands i’m not saying the ipl is bad it actually has a role in hair removal i just disagree with the marketing as laser hair removal because it really isn’t so how does laser destroy your hair have you ever noticed in the summer that if you’re wearing dark clothes or black clothes that you feel really warm or hot and that’s because the clothes are absorbing the sunlight it’s a similar principle with laser hair removal let me show you how this would work when you shine laser energy onto the skin the dark pigment in the hair which is melanin will absorb the light from the laser and will be heated up this heat will then be conducted down the hair shaft and will affect the matrix cells which will also become heated up and destroyed now this is exactly what we want when we’re doing laser hair removal once the hair that’s already there falls out new hair is less able to grow or can’t grow at all because the matrix cells are now destroyed if some of them still persist some hairs may grow but they tend to grow slower and less thick laser hair removal works best on people that have pale skin and dark hair this is because there’s a good contrast between the hair that needs to be destroyed and the skin that needs to be left intact traditionally we were told that laser is not good for skin of color and we’ve been quite scared actually to get any sort of laser work done because of the risks of the hyperpigmentation or worse still the risk of suffering a burn now we’ve got newer technology and actually it’s quite safe for darker skin types to have laser hair removal if we choose the right laser and if the person operating that laser knows exactly what they’re doing with darker skin tones you have a lot more melanin in the skin so this means that when you shine the laser on the skin both the melanin that’s in the hair and the melanin that’s in the skin are competing for this laser energy both will absorb the laser energy and both will be heated up and in the hair that’s good that’s desirable you want that effect but in the skin you definitely don’t want that effect because heating up of the skin will trigger the melanocytes which will form hyperpigmentation and if the temperature gets too high you can get burns the best lasers for laser hair removal in darker skin types is actually the nd yag which emits a wavelength of 1064 nanometers you can see from this diagram here that the nd yag laser penetrates the deepest into the skin this is safer for darker skin types because that laser actually bypasses the melanin that’s in the skin and instead targets the melanin that’s deep in the follicle as well as using an nd yag laser for darker skin types there are other things as well that we can do to reduce the risk of causing problems with hyperpigmentation or burns so these include cooling the skin we may also do test patches on your skin because it will give us an idea about what levels of energy we can use on your skin without causing irritation sometimes we even have to use energy settings that are lower than what’s recommended by the manufacturer in order to reduce the risk of having problems with darker skin types in the correct hands laser hair removal is very safe it’s used very commonly and it’s very effective but as with all things there’s always a risk of side effects majority of side effects are actually quite minor and they’re temporary so they tend to improve over sort of 24 to 72 hours one of these side effects can be discomfort most laser hair removal is either pain free or there’s just mild discomfort and people will often describe it as feeling like an elastic or a rubber band snapping on the skin we can further do things to reduce the amount of discomfort that you feel such as by using cooling gels or cooling sprays or cooling plates when we are doing the laser treatments you may expect a small amount of redness and swelling if you’ve got darker skin tone like mine you won’t necessarily see any redness but you may see a little bit of swelling you don’t necessarily have to do anything about this it usually gets better by itself but if it is bothersome you can apply an ice pack or you can use over-the-counter hydrocortisone to help with the swelling and with the redness some people find that after laser hair removal their skin can feel quite dry and can be a little bit flaky and this is usually temporary and i would just advise using a moisturizer that doesn’t contain perfume just to help your skin until it recovers completely if you have darker skin then the dreaded side effect that we all don’t want to happen to us is hyperpigmentation or hypo pigmentation this can happen on darker skin types if the settings that i use for the laser are too high if this happens to you don’t panic because there is the option of also using certain creams to help to clear that pigmentation a bit faster hypo pigmentation tends to happen if you have had a burn the melanocytes in that area they stop producing pigment altogether in most cases this is temporary and in a few cases this can be permanent if two high settings are used on the laser you can suffer from blisters if you suffer from a blister please don’t pop it allow it to pop by itself because popping it before it’s ready can introduce infection and cause further complications somebody said they had their laser hair removal and then their hair grew back thicker now actually this can be a side effect of laser hair removal it’s not a very common one but it but it can happen it’s called paradoxical hypertrochosis we know that this is more common in women that have darker skin tones and also women that suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome now what we think is happening here is that the energy settings that are used on the laser are too low and what they do is that rather than destroying the hair follicle they actually stimulate it instead which causes increased hair growth who should avoid and when should you avoid laser hair removal if you’ve got blonde hair or red hair or gray hair you might want to consider another form of hair removal such as electrolysis the reason is to do with the type of melanin or the absence of melanin in the hair so remember that in order for laser hair removal to work the laser needs to be able to heat up the target melanin in the hair there are actually two types of melanin we have eu melanin which is a brown black pigment and then we have fear melanin which is a red yellow pigment if you have more eu melanin in your hair hair will be brown or black if you have more fear melanin in your hair your hair will be blonde or maybe red laser is better absorbed by you melanin that darker pigment so this is the reason why it doesn’t work so well for gray blonde and red hairs if you have a tan from sunbathing sunbeds or from self tanning products so that means instant wash off tans body bronzers and gradual self-tanning lotions or moisturizers this extra pigment will absorb the laser energy and can also cause hyperpigmentation and burns and this is the reason why if you have a tan we recommend that you wait until the tan fades before you have laser hair removal if you are pregnant or breastfeeding we do advise that you don’t have laser hair removal because there aren’t any studies in pregnant or breastfeeding women to be able to confirm that it’s safe there is actually a long list of considerations to go through before someone has laser hair removal because some conditions are not clear-cut if you’ve got certain skin conditions such as psoriasis or luck and plainness or if you suffer from keloid scars then your laser practitioner will want to weigh up the risks and the benefits before advising you about whether or not it’s safe for you to proceed with laser hair removal before you decide to have laser hair removal i would recommend that you do the following check your practitioner check that they have the relevant training and also that they know how to use laser for your specific skin type make sure that you tell them if you’ve got any moles or any tattoos because these may need to be covered up during the laser hair removal because remember that many moles are pigmented and tattoos are also made using pigment so if you are to expose the pigment in the mole or the tattoo to laser they would absorb the laser energy be heated up and then can cause problems with burns or hyperpigmentation on the skin please do not wax or tweeze your hairs if you’re going to have laser hair removal so this is because for laser to work that hair needs to be intact sitting in the follicle because that’s what’s going to absorb the laser energy and heat up and direct that energy to destroy the follicle if you pull that hair out by waxing or tweezing then the laser doesn’t have anywhere to focus the target’s gone it’s okay to shave though because when you shave the hair you’re only shaving the hair on the surface of the skin and the hair still remains intact in the follicle by shaving the hair you waste less of the laser energy heating up the hair shaft and more of it can be targeted deep inside the follicle which is where you need the energy to be to destroy the matrix cells if you don’t shave your hair hair that’s on the surface of the skin absorbs the laser energy it becomes singed or burnt and then it can fall onto the skin and cause problems with burns or hyperpigmentation you can also ask for what type of laser that is going to be used often when you ask this question you will be told the brand name of the laser but what you really want to know is the type of laser so for example is it a diode laser is it an alexandrite laser is it ndac also before you have your laser hair removal treatment you should actually be asked to answer some questions are going to tell that laser practitioner whether it’s safe to perform laser hair removal on you and also you should receive aftercare instructions telling you exactly how to care for your skin after the laser so let’s move on to some of the questions that you left me on my youtube post so this question is related to whether using laser hair removal in the bikini area can cause infertility and is it safe to use in this area so it’s actually a myth that laser hair removal can cause infertility it doesn’t only the skin is affected by laser hair removal in fact we’re talking about the dermis which is where the follicle sits and if you think about the anatomy or the layers that are present you have your epidermis of your skin which is the top layer followed by the dermis which is where the laser penetrates to and then after this you’ve got a layer of fat and then you may well have bone in the way because you’ve got your pelvis and then you’ve got your internal organs and the laser is nowhere near any of these organs so laser hair removal does not cause problems with infertility even when you use it in the bikini area set yourselves free ladies can laser hair removal cause problems with skin cancer despite many many years of using laser for hair removal there isn’t really any evidence that it causes skin cancer in fact certain lasers are used to treat pre-cancerous skin lesions and cancerous skin lesions cancer is a result of repeated episodes of damage to a cell’s dna over the lifetime of that cell that damage will add up and eventually cause cancer to damage the dna of a cell the energy needs to be ionizing i.e capable of either breaking up the dna strands or causing them to mutate in some way which means the cell will start to grow out of control which is what cancer is the energy that’s used in laser and in ipl devices is actually non-ionizing so you can see why laser hair removal and ipl hair removal is not linked to cancer why is it that in between sessions the hair just grows back does that mean the treatment’s not working and also why can’t you just destroy all of the hair follicles in one session and save me spending all my money these questions are really easy to explain if you understand hair biology and the hair cycle now human hair is self-renewing it goes through a growth cycle you have a growth phase called anagen a transition phase catagen followed by a resting phase telogen before the cycle repeats itself again back at anagen so in the first stage the matrix cells are dividing and they’re actually forming the shaft of the hair which is then growing out of the follicle why am i telling you all of this because only the hair that’s in anagen that active growing phase can be affected by laser in laser hair removal so you can see why you need more than one session because at any one point in time a certain proportion of your hair will be in anagen the active growth phase and when you have your laser hair removal treatment these hairs will be successfully treated and will fall out in catagen the follicle will shrink and it will detach itself from the dermal papilla which means it can no longer get the blood supply the oxygen and the nutrients that it was getting and because of this the hair will stop growing during telogen we then have the resting phase and the whole cycle starts again over time those hairs that were in catagen or telogen will then enter antigen and will start to grow again and these are the hairs that you are treating when you go for your second and your third and your fourth sessions it’s almost as if you need to wait to catch the hair when it’s in the growth phase so with each session you’ll notice about a 10 to 25 hair reduction so that by the time that you’ve completed your sessions however many you may need you should be able to achieve about 90 reduction in the hair growth once you’ve completed all of your sessions does that mean that the treatment is permanent because you’ve now destroyed all of these hair follicles i wish it was that simple but it’s not no treatment is capable of stopping hair growth completely this is because hair biology is complicated we can’t just switch off our hormones right for some women when they are pregnant they have increased hair growth women who suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome will often notice that they need more sessions of laser hair removal because of that hormonal drive for some women they have increased hair growth when they give birth or after menopause so these need to be taken into account and this is why as medical professionals we prefer the term laser hair reduction to laser hair removal because removal almost implies permanence and actually it’s it’s not permanent it can grow back but sometimes this can take months or even years and if it does grow back the hair that grows back will be thinner it will be lighter and it will take longer to grow back and you are likely to need maintenance sessions of either one or two or maybe three laser sessions a year to maintain the results so there were many questions about whether at-home lasers are safe to use so these at-home lasers are actually ipl devices in general they’re quite safe to use because they use much lower energy than the clinic devices they are not as effective or as strong as the ipo devices that you would find in a clinic setting but that doesn’t mean that they don’t work you will usually find if you’re using these that you will need many many more sessions and if you were to have a clinic treatment make sure that you follow the manufacturer instructions use the eye protection that’s provided and don’t look directly at the light take note because they’re not always suitable for all skin types so some of them will actually state on there that they’re not suitable for fitzpatrick skin type 6 or darker skin types like mine also lots of questions about whether laser hair removal can help with ingrowing hairs kp and acne laser hair removal does help with ingrowing hairs because reducing the ability of that hair to grow means that you can’t suffer from ingrowing hairs if you’ve got acne however you need a different type of laser because laser hair removal won’t help you with acne laser hair removal does not help kp because in kp the problem is not to do with the hair it’s to do with the fact that the follicle is being blocked by excess skin production and if you want to learn more about that condition i have made a video which you can watch here when is the right time to have laser hair removal it can be sometimes difficult to deny somebody laser hair removal based on age especially if they are suffering from medical conditions where there is excessive hair growth for example hypertrochosis or hirsutism which is male pattern hair growth in women and you can get this kind of hair growth in women that suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome where they develop hair around the chin and sometimes also on the chest there are many other conditions which i’ve listed here which can actually be improved by using laser hair removal so it really depends on the condition causing the excessive hair and whether the person performing the laser is comfortable to do the procedure so there’s another question about whether it’s okay to use laser if you’ve got sensitive skin when most people say they have sensitive skin they mean that the skin becomes red very easily or maybe it tingles or sting or it swells before you have laser done if you’ve got sensitive skin you should always point this out to your practitioner and they can do a test spot to see how your skin’s going to react now if you have laser hair removal and your skin reacts in this way then it’s usually temporary and you can use an ice pack or hydrocortisone to help to calm those symptoms of redness and swelling if you’ve got broken skin or inflamed skin however you shouldn’t have laser hair removal on this skin you need to wait for that skin to heal really interesting question about whether it’s safe to have laser hair removal if you have a skin condition called dermatographism now dermatographism is a skin condition whereby if you draw on the skin the skin will develop swelling or wheels exactly in those points where you’ve drawn on it and it’s sometimes known as skin writing because of this although it’s a nuisance it’s not a dangerous condition so actually it’s probably quite safe to have laser hair removal but what i would advise is that you have a test patch first to see how your skin is going to react and the reason why you get this dermatographism is because the mast cells in our skin release histamine and this histamine causes the swelling so if you take an antihistamine before your laser hair removal then you’re much less likely to suffer from this reaction you can use an ice bath to help to cool the area and to reduce the swelling and you can also take your antihistamine after it has happened although it’s better to take it before and you can use hydrocortisone cream as well to calm the skin another question was if it’s safe to have laser hair removal if you have psoriasis so again it depends if your psoriasis is quiet it’s possible that you would be able to have laser hair removal without any problems it’s always best to check with your dermatologist or your doctor first thank you for watching this video i hope that you found it really useful and that you now truly understand laser hair removal and how it works if you know anyone that would benefit please share it and of course comment down below and i’ll be happy to answer any of your questions

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