When it comes to myths, laser hair removal is not short of them. We’ve heard many, but the one misconception that seems to constantly top the myths list is that the procedure is ineffective and dangerous on dark skin.
To be honest it is actually partially true. But the procedure can be ineffective as well as dangerous for both darker and lighter skin types, in unskilled hands.
The device is aimed at the area of unwanted hair growth. Light penetrates into the skin where it is absorbed by the melanin (dark pigment) in the hair follicle. This light is turned to heat. The heat is too much for the follicle to handle and it dies (or in some cases, minituarisation occurs). The result is permanent hair reduction.
Over a period of time (and with a well designed treatment plan) most of the hairs disappears. Most of the time at least 80-85% of hair goes. The remaining hair follicles growth finer, thinner hair. This remaining hair grow over a long period of time making management of the area a breeze.
This category includes all skin types which have been proven to be at higher risk either because of its color or because of it’s inability to bounce back if it is damaged in any way. This category includes:
- Asian (including Chinese, Vietnamses, Japanese, Thai and other Asian skin types)
- Indian & Sri Lanka
- Hispanic & even some Medeteranian skin types
- African skin types (some African skin types cannot be treated by Laser or IPL at all)
Treatment of darker skin types poses an increased risk for patients due to the light absorbing properties of melanin. Melanin is the pigment which colors the hair as well as the skin. There is less contrast between the color of the skin and color of the hair in darker skinned patients so the challenge of targeting only the hair is greater. Inevitably, some of the laser/light energy is intercepted at the surface of the skin when treatment is performed.
Often, darker skins treatments require more specific technology and greater expertise for a safe and effective outcome. Consider the following:
– Light is absorbed in hair follicles as well as in the skin with darker skin, therefore there is some energy “loss” and not all energy absorbs into the follicle
– If you increase energy output to get more energy to the follicle – your risk of burning of patient’s skin increases
– Due to increased energy absorption into skin, most dark skin patients have a less comfortable treatment. This also makes them trickers to treat
– However, with a few more treatments and a couple of little tricks a skilled therapist will still be able to achieve excellent results
When you book your laser hair removal appointment you will first have a comprehensive consultation. This consultation will allow your therapist to assess you for any medical or lifestyle contraindications and explain the procedure to you. This is your chance to learn about it, ask as many questions as you have and to assess your therapist’s level of skill and knowledge.
Skin types 4-6 (darker skin types) involve the largest risk for injury if a laser technician is not properly trained in treating dark skin types. Skin in these categories includes people with Latin, Mediterranean, Asian, East Indian and African-American ethnic backgrounds. Using the wrong settings on a device can cause irreversible damage in the form of hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, burning or scarring.
Performing a test patch is crucial before continuing with a full treatment. Test patch with different levels of intensity can inform an aesthetician of the skin’s reaction to treatment. When test-spotting on skin types 4-6, it is important to wait 48-72 hours before performing the full treatment. Skin tones of this variety often have a delayed reaction to exposure.
Laser Skin and Wellness clinic has a lot of experience in treating people with darker skin. If you would like to learn more please give us a ring on 9530 9800