The U.S. Food and Drug Administration made women cheer when it approved two laser hair removal devices for at-home use in 2008. Considerably less expensive than professional laser hair removal treatments, this one-time purchase can be used in the privacy of your own bathroom, on your own schedule. However, home laser hair removal has its limitations–and the devices cleared by the FDA might not be effective for all women.
How Laser Hair Removal Works
Laser hair removal can keep hair growth at bay for a long period of time, but it does not permanently get rid of hair or prevent it from growing back again. The FDA explains that any type of laser device used for purposes of hair removal can be marketed as a way to permanently reduce the density of hair growth on the body. Included in the FDA’s definition of “permanent hair reduction” is another qualifier: several treatments are necessary, including those that maintain permanent hair reduction. The same type of technology used in the medical devices used by doctors during professional laser hair removal treatments is available in at-home devices, although the strength of the laser is not as strong.
Taking the Technology Home
The first two at-home laser hair removal devices approved by the FDA were manufactured by Silk’n and Tria Beauty. According to a November 2009 ABC news report, these devices claim to permanently reduce body hair by 50 to 70 percent after five home sessions. The “Hair Removal Journal” consumer website indicates that with professional services, you may experience up to 80 percent reduction after receiving between four and seven treatment sessions. Your chances of getting good results depend largely on your skin tone and body hair color. People with fair skin and dark hair generally get the best results from using home laser hair removal devices. These devices have little or no effect on red, blond or unpigmented (gray or white) body hair.
Cost, not just convenience, can be a driving factor in your decision to purchase a laser hair removal device. In June 2010, the two devices cleared by the FDA cost around $500, while a single professional laser hair removal treatment may cost $100 or more, according to the ABC news report. These devices can be used on large areas of the body, such as the legs and arms, and on “personal” areas, such as the bikini line. According to the consumer website HairFacts.com, these may be safe when used properly. Some people may achieve long-term or even permanent hair reduction; the hair that grows back in may be finer and lighter.
As appealing as home laser hair removal sounds, it does have its limitations. The devices cleared by the FDA are not approved for use on darker skin tones. Only the medical devices used by professionals are approved by the FDA to treat facial hair. A dermatologist skilled in the treatment of darker skin tones has the equipment available to give you good results without risk of burning and hypopigmentation. A skilled professional can also treat specific areas of the face, such as the chin and upper lip. Laser hair removal is not used around the eye area due to safety concerns.
Is Home Laser Hair Removal for You?
Complications using any type of laser hair removal are possible, says skincare expert Paula Begoun. These may including discoloration of the skin–darkening or lightening–inflammation, infection and swelling. If you have a tan or your skin is naturally dark, Begoun goes onto say that your risk for complications increase. She advises seeking the services of a doctor who can help you decide if laser hair removal is your best option.
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