We constantly monitor the results of laser hair removal treatment in north London at our Highbury and Islington clinic. These results vary according to the types of skin and hair being treated and the technology being employed. When using the latest laser technology such as the Cynosure Elite, permanent hair reduction is likely to be of the order of 60-95%. Any hair re-growth is typically much finer and lighter in colour.
Laser light is very specific. It targets the melanin (pigment) within the hair follicle, causing thermal injury to the cells that produce hair and preventing them from carrying out hair production. Intense Pulse Light (IPL), in contrast, is not so specific to the targeted follicles. Its energy spreads throughout the skin and is absorbed by unintended targets, making IPL more risky for darker skin types.
Whether it’s laser light or IPL, the darker the hair type the more effective the response. Blonde, red or grey hair all respond poorly to the treatment because they don’t have enough dark pigment to absorb the light.
How Many Laser Hair Removal Sessions Do I Need?
Only hair in the anagen (active) stage of the hair growth cycle is permanently damaged by the laser, and only around 10-20% of your hair is in that stage at any one time. This explains why just one session of laser hair removal treatment isn’t enough. Typical results are as follows:
- 1 laser hair removal treatment : approximately 5% – 15% hair reduction
- 2 laser hair removal treatments : approximately 15% – 20% hair reduction
- 3 laser hair removal treatments : approximately 20% – 30% hair reduction
- 4 laser hair removal treatments : approximately 30% – 60% hair reduction
- 5 laser hair removal treatments : approximately 60% – 85% hair reduction
- 6 laser hair removal treatments : approximately 85-95% hair reduction
Hair re-growth is likely to appear 3-10 days after a laser hair removal treatment, though with each treatment re-growth is likely to be weaker and patchier. 2-3 weeks after a treatment some hair shedding is common.
Some people will need more that 6 sessions. This depends on the area being treated (some parts of the body have particularly vigorous hair growth). In addition, clients with darker skin types are also more likely to need extra sessions.
Skin Types, Effective Laser Hair Removal and Laser Selection
The following categorisations are indicative only. People in any one ethnic grouping could have different skin types.
1. Caucasian, European (Fitzpatrick skin type I, II, III)
People from this group are the best candidates for laser hair removal treatment. Their skin has little pigment and it therefore absorbs the least amount of laser light. Generally, these people will need fewer treatments and will achieve the best results. As with anyone, the effectiveness of laser hair removal on individuals from this group depends on a combination of their hair and skin colour. The best results are achieved on very pale skin and thick black hair. If they are blonde the results are poor.
Laser used: Alexandrite 755 nm
2. East Asian, American Indian (Fitzpatrick skin type IV)
People in this category normally attain good results. For light skin type IV the Alexandrite can be used. However, for darker skin type IV it is safer to use the long pulsed Nd:YAG 1064nm as they have more pigment within the skin which the Alexandrite could target.
Laser used: Alexandrite 755 nm or Nd: YAG 1064nm
3. Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Hispanic, South Asian, Afro-American (Fitzpatrick skin type V)
These ethnicities tend to have the most facial and bodily hair, and their skin absorbs more laser light than those with skin types I, II, II and IV. Laser hair removal on Asian skin, for example, can increase the risk of hyperpigmentation (darker skin discoloration). However, this ethnicity can still be safely treated with the long pulsed Nd: YAG Laser. Lightening the skin as much as possible is important so keeping away from the sun as much as possible is recommended.
Laser used:Nd: YAG 1064nm
4. African descent (Fitzpatrick skin type VI)
People with dark brown skin are not the best candidates for laser hair removal because their skin absorbs a large amount of laser light. This increases the risk of side-effects. However, they can also be safely treated with the long pulsed Nd: YAG Laser and are normally very happy with the results. One reason for this is that hair reduction works best on very thick, black hair. People in this category tend to have this type of hair.
Laser used:Nd: YAG 1064nm