why do it?
Excessive or unwanted hair can develop in various areas such as:
- Moustache, beard, sideburns, ears or eyebrows
- Arms, legs, underarms
- Chest and back
- Pubic and perianal areas
Patients desire hair removal for cultural, sexual, medical, religious, cosmetic, convenience or hygiene reasons. Real or perceived social acceptance problems may be experienced by patients whose hair falls outside of cultural aesthetic standards. With the growing social acceptance of clothing that exposes more skin, there has been an increase in the desire to remove unwanted body hair, such as on legs, underarms and bikini line.
Pubic hair removal ("manscaping") is also increasingly common in gentlemen, especially for aesthetic and visual reasons.
Patients often tire of the painful process of repeated shaving, tweezing, waxing or depilating every few days, or develop scars, cuts, bumps, ingrown hairs, irritation or allergies. Professional permanent medical hair reduction saves time, effort and money in the long run.
to remove unwanted hair
safely and effectively
Intense Pulsed Light Hair Removal
Intense Pulsed Light or IPL uses a hand-held, computer-controlled broad-spectrum high-intensity flash lamp that emits light at multiple wavelengths in the visible spectral range of 400 to 1200 nm, that cannot be focused into a concentrated beam. With a range of varying wavelengths dispersed at different depths, only some of these will be effective for hair reduction. It may require more treatments than laser hair removal to get the same results.
Special cutoff filters are used selectively filter out shorter wavelengths, especially potentially damaging ultraviolet light. The resulting light has a narrower spectral range that targets specific structures and chromophores (e.g. melanin in hair removal). The light energy is absorbed and converted to heat energy which destroys the hair, damaging the follicle.
Laser Hair Removal
Hair removal lasers use light energy to blast hairs, heating them up and damaging stem cells in hair follicles. Unlike IPL, lasers utilise a single precise wavelength of light that will go deeper into the skin to kill the stem cells in the hair follicles by heating up the pigment in the hair.
A variety of laser wavelengths are used for hair removal, each with their own distinct advantages. These wavelengths include:
- Ruby (694nm): better for fair skin and lighter hair
- Alexandrite (755nm): treats large areas quickly, more suitable for lighter skin
- Diode (810nm, 940nm): treats large areas quickly, suitable for a range of skin colours
- Nd:YAG (1064nm): best for dark skin colours but painful
The laser treatment works best with those who have darker or coarse hair but can still work effectively for most hair colours. Laser treatments can be used to target areas such as your face, bikini line, and all the smaller or more precise areas of the body.
Laser hair removal also uses the ability to heat hairs and damage follicles by blasting them with light energy. However, it is slightly different to IPL in that is utilizes the specific properties that lasers possess. Lasers can be extremely controlled so that they can be focussed into a small area and travel a large distance without spreading out like light normally would. They can also produce beams that only contain one colour of light. These characteristics of lasers can, therefore, be utilized for the benefit of laser hair removal. The laser can travel deeper down into the pore, giving a concentrated blast of light to the follicle, and can therefore be more specific in the treatment it gives
Very light or fine hairs may be difficult to remove with laser or light devices, especially in dark skin colours. This is because there is insufficient contrast to confine the energy to the hair. High frequency radiofrequency is suitable for all hair colours and skin types. Very fine insulated radiofrequency probes are used to cannulate the hair follicle and directly apply current to the hair bulb and bulge, killing the stem cells and effecting hair removal.
dr wan's perspective
Hair removal services are heavily marketed in Singapore. Large chains of spas aggressively touting hair removal packages are common and they utilize methods ranging from mechanical removal to IPL or laser hair removal treatments.
In Singapore, skin laser treatments have to be done by certified doctors. Therapists are not qualified to use lasers and may not be properly trained, leading to higher risk of ineffectual treatments or worse, complications like burns and hyperpigmentation. Dr Wan has personally treated cases of scarring resulting from hair removal in spas. Medical grade equipment such as lasers and IPLs are also of better quality and grade than spa equipment, with a higher power, special cut off filters and the ability to fine-tune parameters such as pulse duration, pulse trains, pulse interval etc. This makes them safer and more effective.
Achieving safe and long lasting hair removal is not as simple as it seems. Spa treatments may suffice for simple straightforward cases, but doctor supervised or performed hair removal in clinics may be safer especially in:
- dark skin types
- fine hairs
- scarring prone patients
- light, white or colourless hairs
Different hair removal techniques have higher efficacy and safety threshold in different clinical scenarios, depending on the patient’s history, skin colour, hair colour, density and thickness. For example, using a light-based treatment whether laser or IPL to treat a white hair would be a futile effort, using a longer wavelength 1064nm laser in light-skinned patients with light hair would lead to more pain and less effective hair removal, and using IPL with the wrong filters and settings in darker skin patients would lead to burns and potential scarring. Dr Wan personally assesses each patient and chooses the appropriate technique using a wide variety, not just 1 or 2 but five lasers, lights and radiofrequency machines are available to tailor hair removal to best fit each patient.