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Is laser hair removal safe?

7th February 2012  : 

The short answer is that laser hair removal is perfectly safe, but it can be a little uncomfortable.

It's understandable why people might be ask "is laser hair removal safe?", simply because when you hear the word laser, your first thought is likely to be Sean Connery having an extremely close shave on a table in Goldeneye!

To understand why laser hair removal is safe, you need to know how it works. The most important thing to remember is that it isn't a case of simply blasting the skin and obliterating anything. Instead the technique works simply by using just enough thermal energy to damage the base of the hair follicle. This is not only enough to cause the hair to fall away naturally over the next few days, but it significantly slows the pace and thickness at which hairs regrow, which is why laser hair removal is described as a long-lasting treatment.

The other point to note is that the laser isn't being passed directly through the skin. Instead the treatment takes advantage of the way the hair is designed. Melanin, the pigment that gives hair a dark colour, happens to be an extremely efficient conductor for taking the laser directly down the hair and into the follicle. This helps keep down the power required in the laser, ensuring safety.

It would be wrong to pretend laser hair treatment doesn't hurt in any way, but this is much more a case of mild discomfort than pain. This can be kept to a minimum by good practitioners, for example by keeping a stream of cold air across the skin. Most patients find that any discomfort will always be at its strongest on the first treatment, so if you can put up with that, future treatments should be no problem.

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