I frequently get asked, “… can laser hair removal be completely pain free and yet still be effective?” It can certainly be argued that pain levels are very subjective as we all have different thresholds and tolerance to pain. It is this level of pain tolerance that will ultimately determine the optimum balance of comfort and treatment efficacy.
It is extremely important to first understand the physics behind how laser hair removal works. In the simplest of terms, the laser essentially targets the pigment in the hair follicle. The heat is absorbed and destroys the cells lining the follicle; more specifically, the bulb, bulge and vascular supply.
That being said, there are many different types of lasers on the market, and it should be highlighted that many of these machines are by definition, not actually lasers at all, but rather Intense Pulsed Light (“IPL”). The major concern with using IPL is that it doesn’t destroy the follicle, but rather damages the hair, causing temporary shedding; however, it can’t produce the permanent hair reduction results that clients are seeking. At Bradford Laser Centre, we use IPL to remove pigment only; we do not find it effective for hair removal. The pain experienced with IPL is very low as it does not penetrate the skin very deeply.
The Candela® GentleMax Pro® Alexandrite laser (755nm) produces a specific wavelength of light in the infrared spectrum. We use this laser for hair removal for lighter skin types (I-III), and employ Dynamic Cooling Device (“DCD”) that delivers a cryogen spray that cools the skin to make the treatment experience more comfortable. The pain level is comparable to a snap of an elastic band on the skin.
The Candela® GentleMax Pro® Nd. YAG laser (1064nm) is a long pulsed laser and is considered the gold standard for darker skin types (IV-VI), with us even being able to treat black skin safely and effectively. As this laser penetrates the skin much deeper, the pain level is greater than with the Alexandrite machine, therefore we use a Zimmer™ Cryo Chiller to direct cold air on the skin to make treatments more comfortable.
To sum things up, pain is subjective, and each technology platform will feel differently. You do need to feel some level of discomfort for effective results. We recommend that you do your research thoroughly before choosing your laser clinic so that you receive the best overall comfort, value and treatment satisfaction.