Let’s agree that laser hair reduction (LHR) has become the latest fad for men and women; for young and old; mothers and daughters; everyone and anyone. We see a lot of people enquiring about laser hair reduction and sometimes, we have to actually say no to these people and disappoint them as they are not going to benefit from the laser hair removal wasting their precious time and money over it.
Who is the ideal candidate for Laser Hair Removal?
A fair-skinned person with the dark color, coarse hair without any hormonal abnormalities. As we know that laser targets the pigment in the hair, i.e. the darker the hair, the better are the results. If the skin is also dark (more pigment in the skin), there can be more absorption of the laser in the skin creating more heating and eventually chances of injury to skin increases. This heating can be reduced by cooling the skin and now laser machines have come up with excellent cooling like soprano ice (creating -40C temperature) making laser absolutely safe in Indian skin (darker skin type).
So, who are not the ideal candidate for laser hair reduction?
These are the ones who can never be happy with laser hair reduction
- Fine, baby-like hair (vellus hair): these are the hair type present usually on the cheekbones on everyone. However, for some, it may make the face look a little darker because of the dark color of these fine hair. They are easily bleachable and hardly noticeable from an arm’s distance. Many people actually want to get rid of these hairs and think laser hair removal to be the best solution. But remember, it’s not a removal procedure but a reduction procedure. So, there will be some hairs which will always be present in the area and will definitely require either frequent maintenance laser or alternate therapy to camouflage them. Even with best of laser machines claiming to work on finer hair like alexandrite lasers, it is not possible to make these hairs more finer and add any benefit by doing laser hair removal. The best solution for these hairs is to go for laser bleach every 3 monthly which takes away the darker look on face, also removes tan and a little bit of ageing from your face.
- White or grey hair: laser hair removal will not work on white hair as there is no pigment to be targeted. Go for electrolysis or follicular unit extraction technique which is removal of hair one by one. Its tedious, time and money consuming but really helpful.
- Dark skin and light color hair: if your skin color is really darker than the color of your hairs, it is unlikely that you are going to benefit with conventional laser hair removal. However, you can always contact your doctor and take an opinion about it. Some laser machines due to their high safety profile may work on that skin.
These may not benefit now but can certainly be happy once these conditions are sorted out:
- Active infections like fungal infections, boils, herpes etc. It’s going to spread from one area to another with LHR and therefore, should be treated properly before laser hair removal treatment.
- Hormonal variations: deranged prolactin, insulin, thyroid hormone or testosterone levels can decrease the efficacy of the laser hair removal. It’s better to be on the treatment for these derangements if present along with your laser treatment to have a perfect reduction.
- Pregnancy: no adverse effects have been found out for the laser hair removal on the baby so far but there is not enough literature to support it. It is said that chances of pigmented skin increase in pregnancy leading to more risk of any injury to the skin by excessive heating. Also, there are lots of hormonal changes going on in pregnancy which can definitely affect the efficacy of LHR. Even some females will have more hair growth in pregnancy which will eventually become normal after delivery of newborn and therefore, one should definitely wait out for this period.
- Ongoing baldness: many men do come for full body Laser Hair Removal. However, if there is ongoing baldness and there are future plans to go for hair transplant, one should get his donor (permanent) area evaluated for future prospects. It’s now an accepted fact to take hair from the body (in case of shortage from other donor areas) and transplant it on your scalp to give that natural and fuller look. It is better to get evaluated by a dermatologist doing both hair transplant and laser hair reduction to know about this aspect too. At most of the time, you may need to save on the thickest of your body hair present mostly on the chest.
Last but not the least, one will not benefit for sure, if the laser machine is substandard or it is done within expert hands. Always look for a good dermatologist (balding men should look out for dermatologist doing hair transplant) in your area, inquire about the machine, pros and cons and go for it.
All Credits to Dr. Jyoti Gupta, MD Dermatology (Gold Medalist).