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What Happens During Laser/IPL Hair Removal Treatment?

Before you decide to have laser/IPL hair removal you will need to have a consultation with a qualified practitioner to discuss your concerns and decide on the right course of treatment for you. They should take a medical history and ask you to fill out a consent form. Make sure you read this and the associated material carefully. You can usually have your treatment done on the same day but in some cases you may want to go away and think about it and book a separate appointment to come back for treatment. This will depend on your individual circumstances.

Before you laser/IPL hair removal treatment begins you will be asked to put on safety goggles to protect your eyes. In some cases a gel will then be applied to your skin to cool it during treatment. Other laser/IPL systems have built in cooling and some do not require cooling. If a sensitive area is to be treated, a topical anesthetic cream may be applied to make the Laser/IPL procedure more comfortable. A hand piece will then be pressed against your skin multiple times to target the hair follicles.

The procedure works by emitting high-energy pulses of light directed at the hair follicles (roots) from which the hair grows. The light is absorbed by the pigment within the hair shaft. The sensation of this can be likened to being flicked with an elastic band. Pain levels vary from person to person and differ between laser/IPL systems. Some are virtually painless whereas others can sting quite a bit. The treatment is tolerable however and is generally very quick, as little as 10 minutes, depending on the size of the area being treated. In some cases an anaesthetic cream can be used, particularly for hair removal in sensitive areas. For large areas such as legs and backs a scanner is sometimes used to apply multiple shots of light at once and speed up treatment times. The procedure will typically destroy between 60-90% of actively growing hairs at each treatment. IPL uses a broad spectrum of light, which means that it is appropriate for treating a wide range of hair colours and skin types. Only hairs that are in their growing phase are susceptible to the treatment, therefore a series of multiple treatments is usually required to effect long-lasting hair growth reduction.

Typically, six to eight laser/IPL treatments are needed, with intervals between treatments of four to eight weeks, depending on which area of the body or face is being treated. The number of IPL treatments depends on factors including the patient’s skin type, hair colour, and density and location of hair. The laser/IPL procedure takes anywhere between 10 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the area to be treated. No anesthetic is required, and you can normally return to your normal daily activities immediately afterwards. You will need to have a course of treatment to get results (between three and eight) as hair grows in different cycles. These are usually about four weeks apart. Top up treatments can be done if necessary after this for any stray hairs that come through.

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