DIY laser hair removal devices are now available, but patients understandably have questions about the efficacy and safety of these systems compared to a professional treatment.
At Reflections, several laser hair removal technologies are available to suit different patients’ needs. For most patients, we use the GentleMax Pro which offers 2 lasers, the GentleLase Nd:YAG 1064 and a separate Alexandrite laser for hair removal. The LightSheer Duet device is also available, which uses a different wavelength and is beneficial when treating larger areas of the body.
In addition to guidance about which laser system we’ll be using, patients will have the benefit of a physician using their knowledge and expertise to adjust settings accordingly. At Reflections, our physicians have extensive knowledge and experience working with various laser systems and understand which settings work best and are safest for different clients – and only physicians perform our laser procedures, each and every time. Once a laser system and setting has been selected, the treatment can be completed relatively quickly and comfortably.
Most patients will experience a brief prickly or hot sensation during their treatment which subsides quickly. Professional laser systems include technologies that enhance comfort throughout treatment. It is especially important to cool melanated skin cells for patients with Fitzpatrick skin types between 4-6, as heat accumulating in these skin types is what can lead to pigmentation changes. All of our laser hair removal devices either make use of a Cryogen spray or a cooling technology immediately alongside each pulse of the laser, to enhance comfort and improve safety. At-home devices do not include any cooling, and this (along with concerns over correct skin tone assessment and laser setting selections) is why you’ll often see skin types 4-6 omitted from the “safe use” guidelines of these at-home devices.
The only at-home device that Reflections Center physicians generally recommend is the Tria device, which works for Fitzpatrick skin types 1-4 with brown or darker hair. This device can successfully remove hair using an 800 nm wavelength laser, the same used in the LightSheer Duet device at Reflections Center, though this at-home version is not as highly powered (meaning each treatment is less effective, and you’ll need fewer overall – but it wouldn’t really be safe for you to have such a strong laser at home).
Many influencers have also praised the Kenzzi device, which is actually an IPL (intense pulsed light) option rather than a laser. IPL devices like Kenzzi administer the full light spectrum rather than the targeted wavelengths used in a laser. This ultimately means that you will require more treatments—Kenzzi users typically spend about an hour each week to two weeks removing hair -and this tends to be an ongoing process, which means you’re really just trading shaving for a new activity – it’s not exactly what you expect when you opt for laser. While this is less effective efficient than professional treatments, the Kenzzi IPL device is reputable and generally safe.
While some may see results from at-home laser hair removal devices, there are significant limitations and concerns with efficacy. In comparing professional in-office lasers and at-home devices, there are two primary concerns: the amount of energy that the device can emit and the spot size of the device. Professional, in-office lasers can generate much more energy, measured in joules, compared to an at-home device. This makes them much more effective at destroying hair follicles.
In addition, at-home laser systems will take a significant amount of time to remove the intended hair. This is because the devices are quite small and can only treat a very small area at a time. In a professional setting, like Reflections Center for Cosmetic Medicine, laser treatments could take just five to ten minutes for the face, about 10 minutes for the bikini area or underarms, and up to 30-45 minutes for the legs. Whereas, you’re looking at 30 to 90 minutes for just your lower legs (below the knee) with the at-home versions – which is any but fast and convenient.
At-home lasers do not generally yield permanent results. Hair generally grows back and needs to be removed every month or so with the most reputable at-home laser, or about once a week for at-home IPL devices.
When you choose a professional laser hair removal treatment at Reflections, a physician like Dr. Ellern will evaluate your needs and safety considerations for your skin type. This is especially important for those with medium or darker skin tones who tan easily, as patients with more melanin run a higher risk for hyperpigmentation and burning with lasers. These risks can be mitigated by seeking out a physician who has extensive laser knowledge and experience.
After evaluating your unique skin type, our physicians can then adjust the settings of the laser device used for your treatment accordingly. In-office devices allow professionals to adjust the pulse duration, spot size, energy strength (joules), and wavelength (nanometers) accordingly so that each patient has great results and a safe treatment. At home laser devices are not customizable in this way, and without a professional opinion it can be difficult to decide if they are safe for your skin type. Patients with a Fitzpatrick skin type of 4-6 should be especially cautious.
To learn more about your laser hair removal options, schedule a consultation at Reflections by calling our offices.