In the past, getting a laser treatment was considered a drastic devotion to beauty, but new technology has made the use of lasers common, pain-free and extremely effective. With numerous different types of lasers and light therapies available, here are some problem areas that can be targeted for quick results.
Laser hair removal is a long-term method for hair reduction. The beam targets the skin and is absorbed by high pigment areas, i.e. hairs. The heat energy damages the follicle—inhibiting growth, shrinking the follicle and eventually rendering it unable to grow new hairs. Most likely, several treatments will be needed because hairs are less responsive at different stages of the growth cycle.
Laser skin tightening heats the collagen under the skin’s surface and causes skin cells to contract and clump together, making it appear tighter and smoother. This method encourages new collagen to grow in treated areas and also stimulates the absorption from surrounding, untreated areas. Two to three treatments are typically needed for optimal results. Skin tightening can also be customised to treat other areas of the body, such as the abdomen.
Laser skin resurfacing removes layers of skin with precision. During healing, new skin cells form to make the skin’s surface look tighter and younger. A full-face treatment can take up to two hours, but parts of the face can be treated in around half an hour. Skin resurfacing can target wrinkles, sun damage, rosacea, scarring and unwanted lines or pigments.
Laser treatment is the fastest way to remove hyperpigmentation and scarring from healed acne, and it can also benefit inflamed breakouts. Lasers can target acne bacteria, reduce sebaceous gland volume and promote collagen, all without damaging the surrounding tissue. Again, multiple sessions are needed to build up results. Laser treatment for acne is also considered temporary, as colonies of acne bacteria can grow back quickly.
Thread vein removal
Laser treatment can remove thread veins—fine, twisted blood vessels that run close to the surface of the skin—from the face, body and legs. The laser heats the blood vessels so that the blood coagulates and the vein breaks down. On average, five sessions are recommended to remove all blemishes, but a noticeable difference can be seen for many people after two treatments. This method can also be used to remove varicose veins.
Fungus can be very difficult to treat. Using a laser can penetrate through the nail plate to the nail bed, targeting the infection beneath the nail. The laser eliminates the fungus without harming the surrounding nail tissue.
Tattoos naturally fade over time because the body recognises the ink as a foreign substance and tries to remove its particles. This natural process is incredibly slow, but can be sped up using lasers. Laser tattoo removal heats up the ink and breaks it down into smaller pieces that can be expelled quicker. The shallowest layers of ink come into contact with the laser first, so the process requires multiple treatments to penetrate the deepest layers. A dark or bold tattoo will also require more treatments than a lighter, shaded tattoo.
Is laser treatment right for me?
- Skin and hair tone. Treatments such as laser hair removal work best when there is a contrast between the colour of the skin and the colour of the hair. If the colours are similar, the laser could target the melanin in the skin instead of the pigment of the hair, resulting in burning, scarring and pigmentation. Black hairs on lighter skin work best as there is more pigment for optimal absorption.
- Side effects. The use of lasers in beauty treatments can cause redness, swelling, itching, breakouts, pigmentation, scarring and infection. Complications are rare, but receiving treatment from a reputable clinic can reduce the risk even further.
- Discomfort. Whilst most laser treatments are marketed as painless, many have described the procedure as a stinging sensation, or the feeling of a rubber band being snapped across the skin.
- Results. In most cases, laser treatments do not provide instantaneous results that last a lifetime. Multiple treatments are required to build up visible changes and these may need topping up, making the process pricey.
Do it at home
Investing in an IPL (intense pulsed light) device can provide safe, long-term laser hair removal at home. Similarly, handheld LED blue light lasers work as a cheaper alternative to acne treatments