Using both Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and laser light technology can target and destroy unwanted hair to relieve the situation long term. To optimise reduction in hair growth, a course of treatments is needed to ensure that we treat all the hairs at the right time in their growing cycle.
We use the award-winning LUMINA machine from Lynton Lasers at Blemish Clinic. This system combines applicators for Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and laser to treat and reduce unwanted hair. The British-made device has an excellent reputation, making it the no. 1 professional combined laser and IPL machine, which is why Jan Birch, our dermatology specialist consultant nurse recommends it to her patients.
Excess hair, facial hair, hirsutism, unwanted hair, bikini line, armpit hair, upper lip hair (female moustache), and ingrown hairs.
There are many reasons why both men and women seek a solution for unwanted hair, and many reasons why it might be regarded as unwanted.
Women spend a small fortune every year on razors, sugaring, and waxing products and services to rid themselves of hair that is deemed cosmetically unsightly on a female – usually on the legs, the biking line, and the underarms. As well as the financial cost, the time spent on this exercise can be considerable, so it is no surprise that they often seek a long-term solution to the reduction in hair in these areas.
Similarly, some women may suffer from a condition called hirsutism (pronounced hur-soot-iz-um) that causes excess hair growth, often as thicker, darker hair on the face, neck, chest, lower back, abdomen, and legs. Usually, hirsutism is caused by hormonal imbalances such as those found with androgens in the medical condition Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). We often find that GPs may refer their PCOS patients to us for laser and IPL hair removal treatment.
Men can also suffer from unwanted hair, despite the social norms meaning that it is more acceptable for men to have visible hair, some may simply regard themselves as too hairy and seek a solution to reduce the quantity of hair, but for others, hair can cause an irritant, especially at the neckline or in the areas where they shave, leading to painful in-growing hairs and inflammation. Reducing unwanted hair in these areas can offer relief from soreness, itching, and infection.
You may not know but hair follicles go through a distinct, 4-phase hair growing cycle that involves growing (anagen), transition (catagen), resting (telegen), and shedding (exogen) cycles. Hair is most successfully treated with light when it is in the early part of its growing or anagen phase, however all the hair follicles are not in the same part of their growth cycle at the same time, with the number of active hair follicles varying at any given time, and the exact length of each phase varying too. Due to this, we must perform the light treatment several times over several months to ensure that we treat and damage hair follicles when they are actively growing and not resting to ensure optimal hair removal with the laser or IPL.
Light from the laser or IPL is absorbed by the melanin (the pigment in the hair follicle) and this energy heats the pigment, effectively destroying the cells in the hair follicle that are responsible for hair growth, without damaging the surrounding cell or other skin tissue.
The best results are achieved with dark coloured (brown or black) hair as there is more melanin present within the hair to assist with heat transfer and coagulation of the cells within the hair follicle.
At Blemish Clinic, we use the award-winning LUMINA laser and IPL device from Lynton Lasers to carry out hair removal. This combined platform means that we can use the best treatment options for the hair type, skin colour, and body area for long-term relief from excess hair.
Laser and IPL hair removal is suitable for removing hair in most areas of the body on both men and women and is commonly used on the:
Before coming for treatment, you will be asked to shave the area being treated because there is enough hair still present below the skin’s surface, and within the hair follicle, to direct the light energy without wasting it by having it absorbed by hair above the surface.
The laser or IPL is placed on the skin and a short pulse of light is released which targets many hair follicles simultaneously. The applicator is then moved to a neighbouring area of the skin and the process is repeated until the entire area is covered.
A course of laser or IPL treatments is usually required at 4–8 weekly intervals to follow the hair growth cycle. Treatment times vary depending on the size of the area being treated so can range from 15 minutes to an hour.
By using the LUMINA device with laser and IPL, we have the added benefit of being able to perform hair removal on most men and women, including those with darker skin types.
Your suitability for either laser or IPL treatment will be discussed during a consultation where a full medical history will be taken to determine if there are any underlying medical conditions or medicines that you are taking that may make you sensitive to light and preclude you from treatment. If you are diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and suffering from hirsutism, the full expectations from treatment will be discussed during your consultation.
Laser and IPL hair removal works best for those with darker hair on lighter skin, due to the higher contrast between the two with the target for light absorption being the pigment in the hair. It can be very difficult to successfully treat and reduce unwanted hair that is grey, white, blonde, or red (ginger) due to the lack of, or reduced, target pigment; we can discuss other treatment options during a consultation if necessary.
If you have broken skin in the area to be treated or an area of active skin infection – bacterial, viral, fungal, etc., you will not be suitable for laser or IPL hair removal treatment and will be required to wait until that is resolved and healed.
If you have a recent suntan, you will be asked to wait until the tan fades before having Intense Pulsed Light treatment to avoid accidental light absorption into the now darker skin.
If you are pregnant or breast feeding, you will not be suitable for treatment. You will be asked to wait until after this time, and perhaps a little longer as hormones often fluctuate during childbirth and can affect hair growth, so will need to have settled.
Most people describe laser and IPL hair removal treatments as very tolerable and much like someone flicking elastic bands at your skin. The comfort of our patients in very important to us at Blemish Clinic, so we offer cooling techniques, topical anaesthesia and we use of a chilled gel applied to the skin before and during treatment to ease any pain and discomfort and help deliver the light.
Because we are delivering pulses of very bright light during a laser or Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment, both you and the practitioner will be wearing safety eye goggles to protect your eyes during treatment.
The treatment is designed to only target the hair, leaving surrounding skin unharmed.
You should expect some mild swelling, tenderness, and redness on the skin after light treatment for hair removal. This will settle down within 24-48 hours. You will be given aftercare advice to manage any discomfort and to cool your skin safely immediately post treatment.
You are advised to avoid tanning and not to expose the skin to sun whilst undergoing a course of laser hair removal, because the increased skin sensitivity can cause pigmentary changes if exposed to natural sunlight or UV sun beds. We usually recommend that autumn and through into winter is a good time to embark on a course of treatment, when there is less sun, especially if treatment involves your legs.
A rare complication from laser and IPL treatment causes post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or patches of darker skin to develop on the skin; this can be treated. All potential side effects will be explained thoroughly during your consultation.
A noticeable reduction, removal, or weakening in unwanted hair will be seen as the course of treatment progresses and additional hair growth is stopped. It is important that you complete the course of treatment to ensure we treat as many of the hair follicles as possible during their active growing cycle, this may mean that results vary in their immediacy after each treatment session, depending on the number of active hair follicles at any one time.
Results from laser and IPL hair removal are long-lasting and for most people can offer a near permanent solution to unwanted hair. If hair growth changes or returns, you may need maintenance treatments to catch rogue hairs.
Although hair removal is permanent for many people and they do not need further treatment once they have completed the course, only hair reduction can be regarded as permanent as there is a possibility of some hair regrowth later in life due to hormonal changes such as those related to pregnancy or ageing (menopause for women and andropause for men), which can stimulate new hair growth in an area.
We believe in being transparent with our prices and want you to be fully aware and comfortable with the cost of your treatment. A full list of our prices can be found here. We will always agree a final price with you though before treatment commences.
Professional reduction or removal of unwanted, excess, or troublesome hair on the face and body using laser and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL).
The light energy from the laser or IPL is attracted to the pigment or melanin in the hair, causing it to heat up and destroy the hair follicle to stop hair growth. Multiple treatments are required to target hairs at the optimal phase of their growing cycle.
A noticeable and long-lasting removal, reduction or weakening of hair within the treated area. Darker hair colours respond better to treatment, with lighter shades such as grey, white, blonde, or ginger being difficult to treat successfully.
The time taken to carry out a laser hair removal treatment will depend on the size of the area being treated, with larger areas like legs and backs taking up to an hour, and smaller areas on the face or hands taking 15-30 minutes. You will need a course of treatments, space 1-2 months apart.
Discomfort during laser hair removal is tolerable, likened to elastic bands flicking at the skin. A cooling gel is applied during treatment to minimise discomfort and help with targeting the light.
Expect redness, warmth, and some swelling in the area for a few hours or up to a couple of days depending on the sensitivity in the area treated.