Hair today, gone tomorrow: more women consider laser hair removal


Getting rid of unwanted facial and body hair with long-term, positive results is a dream come true for many peopleDescription: nchor. For some, undergoing non-surgical, laser hair removal treatment could be a solution.

However, the process’ success still depends on a number of factors that those interested should take into consideration before trying it.

During laser hair removal treatment, a technician uses beams of light with wavelengths that can be absorbed by the pigment in dark hair, which are transmitted to the hair follicle inside the skin. The follicle needs to be hit several times to be destroyed; eventually, the outcome is permanent hair reduction.

The service has been available in Egypt since 1997, but it has become increasingly popular as a result of various technologies that have proved its efficacy on different skin tones.

“Dark, coarse hair gets the best laser hair removal results, as black and brown hair absorb energy more effectively than blond, white or very fine hair,” says Mahmoud Abdallah, assistant professor of dermatology at Ain Shams University.

Permanent hair reduction is not a time-consuming process.

“Each laser pulse can treat from 15 to 18 millimeters in a second, which means that small areas such as the full face and underarms can be treated within 10 minutes only,” Abdallah says, adding that large areas such as full arms and legs may take up to an hour.

It is difficult to specify how many treatments would be required for long-term hair removal, as it depends on a number of different factors.

“The number of sessions ranges from four to eight, depending on the treated body area, hair thickness and individual response,” he says, stressing that sessions should be spaced four to six weeks apart.

The results differ from one body area to another, he says.

“The best laser results are seen on the underarms, below the knee and the bikini line, with 80 to 90 percent removal of hair. Hair growth reduction of other body areas [is] 70 percent,” he says.

Hend Mohsen, 23, underwent laser treatment for her underarms a year ago.

“I felt pain in the first session, but it started to ease gradually with every new session. I was encouraged to try it out because of its almost permanent result,” she says.

Mohsen adds that she now only needs maintenance by conventional methods for the treated area about twice a year.       

Abdallah says people who are interested should take some precautions before undergoing the treatment.

“Avoid skin color changes by sun tanning and limit waxing and plucking for six weeks, because these methods pull the hair from the root, which the laser energy targets to eliminate its growth,” Abdallah says.   

Prior to the procedure, he says, the hair that will be undergoing treatment should be shaved to get rid of hair, not the root, above the skin surface. A technician will also apply numbing cream over the area for half an hour to an hour, prior to the procedure.

After each session, Abdallah recommends avoiding sun exposure for four days and applying sunblock, as well as soothing cream.

“Sun exposure increases your risk of developing side effects following treatment, including pigmentation and, paradoxically, growth,” he says, stressing that these complications occur only very rarely.

Ghada Omar, 33, suffered a slight burn mark — redness and minor swelling that was limited to the top layer of skin — after the third session of removing her sideburn hair.
“The burn occurred as a result of using an inappropriate laser type for my sensitive skin,” Omar says. “It was a first-degree burn that disappeared after applying bleaching cream prescribed by my doctor. Then I resumed my remaining two sessions, with no complications.”

Newly married Yasmine Fakhry, 27, also expresses her satisfaction with the experience.

“After the treatment, redness appeared for a day, but soon my skin returned back to normal with moisturizer,” she says.

After treating her arms and bikini line, she says the procedure was worth the experience for saving time and providing permanent relief from the pain of using conventional methods.

Some women still prefer to stick to common removal hair methods, though.

“My skin is thin and gets more easily irritated than normal. So the idea of laser exposure is risky. I usually use hair removal cream to avoid any pain, as well as effort,” 41-year-old Noha Sayed says.

If you are considering laser hair removal, the first thing to keep in mind is to find a reputable dermatologist to determine the treatment best suited for your skin type. The procedure is available at many dermatology and cosmetic surgery clinics, and prices vary depending on the quantity of hair, number of sessions required and size of the body area being treated.

This piece was originally published in Egypt Independent’s weekly print edition.