Laser Hair Removal

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Laser Hair Removal
August 10
08:47 2016

Friend, Foe Or Fad?

When it comes to hair removal, many Canadian women are putting away their tweezers, razors, and hot wax, and are opting for a treatment known for its low-pain, long-term effects: laser hair removal.

Laser hair removal was invented in the 1960s, and approved in the 1990s—but it only became the popular option it is today within the past decade, says Dr. Julia Carroll, Director and Dermatologist at Compass Dermatology. As laser hair removal grew in popularity, so did the number of clinics and medi spas offering this treatment. And with the proliferation of online coupons that are practically giving the treatment away, Carroll warns that women might be getting exactly what they are paying for: “Bad results or no results.”

Laser Hair Removal

Laser Hair Removal

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

Dr. Carroll’s advice? Steer clear of offers where savings are too good to be true, where technicians pressure you to buy, or where they are unable to give you a straight answer.

More importantly, the clinic should have a physician on-site, she says.

Health Medica’s Clinic Director Sally Banas makes sure her clients are well-informed before they begin a session. Her clients know how to protect treated areas from the sun both before and after a session, to avoid topical creams or medications that will increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun, and avoid hot showers or saunas for a day or so after treatment.

Is laser hair removal a good choice for everyone?

Laser hair removal is extremely safe and effective—“in the right hands,” says Dr. Carroll. If an inexperienced technician performs the procedure, however, there is the risk of leaving the clinic with unsightly scarring, burns, or, for those with white, grey, or red hair, hypo- or hyperpigmentation. As long as the hair being treated is dark, “for most people, I think [laser hair removal] is the best option.”

Laser Hair Removal

Laser Hair Removal

For women with a low pain tolerance, Banas recommends avoiding treatment while menstruating. She also advises pregnant and nursing women to hold off on the procedure because their hormones are likely “going haywire.” Waiting until a few months after you’ve stopped breastfeeding is the smart time to begin treatment.

Oh, those hormones

Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) have a hormonal condition that causes excess hair growth, among other symptoms like acne. And while laser hair removal may seem like the perfect solution, women with PCOS need to understand that this procedure will not get rid of hair altogether, but significantly reduce the volume of growth and result in much finer hair over time, explains Banas. The expectation should be keeping unwanted or embarrassing hair under control, and perhaps even managing acne. Laser hair removal is a good way to “prevent breakouts and scarring” that result from ingrown hairs, says Dr. Carroll.

Laser hair removal or reduction?

One thing women may not realize is that our bodies are always producing new hair follicles—even after existing ones have been destroyed. For this reason, Carroll prefers the term “laser hair reduction.” Be wary of clinics that promise complete hair removal after a set number of treatments, she warns. The number of times you need to go will depend on what area you are treating, including factors that will vary from woman to woman: the colour of your skin, how coarse or dark your hair is, your pain tolerance, and any medications or medical conditions that may affect your hormone levels, Banas adds.

Laser Hair Removal

Laser Hair Removal

Want a quick fix? Dr. Carroll recommends starting with your underarm or bikini line. These areas are small, treatment times are short, and the results are fast: “an average of five sessions.”

Laser hair removal is not a fad.

Laser hair removal is considered the best option by professionals like Dr. Carroll and Banas. “It’s effective, it’s long-lasting… it’s safe… [and] it’s pretty quick as well,” says Dr. Carroll, who even sees mothers bringing in their daughters—“so they never have to go through all the woes of shaving.”

Both Banas and Dr. Carroll recommend lasers that offer flexibility, allowing them to adjust settings depending on the client’s needs.

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