Laser hair removal can be useful in cosmetically sensitive areas, such as the legs and arms, the bikini area, the underarms and the face. It can also be useful for chronic conditions such as pilonidal sinus, and in removing hair from skin flaps using for reconstruction.
Despite many claims, it is rarely possible to use the laser to totally and permanently remove hair. An average result at the present time is that hair disappears for some two to three months after treatment, and then usually some grows back. Where the response is particularly favourable, the number of hairs growing back is much reduced and they tend to grow at a slower rate and more finely. Repeated treatments are usually necessary and permanent depilation is unlikely.
The laser works best on dark hair and fair skin, as it is the melanin pigment within the hair which is the target for treatment, but other skin and hair types can also be treated. A number of treatments may be required. Not all skins respond favourably to the laser, however, and only after an initial test patch can your likely response be determined. A test patch involves the treatment of a small trial area to ascertain whether the treatment is helpful and to check that no untoward skin changes occur. In highly pigmented skins the treatment can occasionally cause an increase in pigmentation or a decrease in pigmentation. Mr Gault may, in addition, prescribe Vaniqa, a cream which has been shown to help suppress hair growth when used both alone and in conjunction with laser depilation.
If the area to be treated is very small, it may be neither practical nor necessary to carry out a test patch. An initial treatment costs from £1250, including surgical and hospital fees.
For a pilonidal sinus, local anaesthetic by cream and injection may be required, and fees increase accordingly. If additional curettage is required to clear hair or granulation tissue from the sinus areas, fees also increase by approximately £105 per sinus.
Treated skin is sensitive to the sun, and it is wise to wear a TOTAL sunblock on the treated area for at least six weeks, and then to avoid excessive sun exposure for a further six months.
AFTER TREATMENT WITH THE LASER
• You may use a simple moisturiser provided that the skin is unbroken. Camouflage make-up such as Dermablend can help to hide bruises on unbroken skin.
• You may bathe the treated area as normal but simply pat the skin dry and avoid rubbing. Avoid shaving until the inflammation has settled.
• Many people find that Aloe Vera Gel is very soothing if the treated areas are sore.
• Slight crusting or scabbing may develop. If the skin cracks, use a mild antiseptic cream such as Savlon two to three times a day to reduce the risk of infection whilst the skin heals.
• After treatment you should avoid contact sports until the bruising has subsided.
• Aspirin and pain-killing preparations like Brufen and Ibuprofen should be avoided as they can increase bruising. Use paracetamol (Panadol) instead.