Does Laser Hair Removal (LHR) Ruin Tattoos?

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Laser hair removal (LHR) is one of common choices to remove unwanted hair. It may be relative more expensive than other options such as waxing, but for some people it can work to provide a better result. Unfortunately not all people can take it since the pigment of hair or even skin can have an effect on how it works. But does it ruin tattoos? Or if you have tattoo, is it safe enough to take LHR?

How does laser hair removal work?

As the name implies, it uses laser to remove and damage the hair follicles on the sites of your skin where hair growth is not expected.

The most benefit of this option than other hair removal options is better in precision. A specialist /doctor can use an intense, waving beam of light to selectively target coarse /dark hair without causing skin damage.

However, this benefit also can be a drawback. Since laser works by targeting the pigment of the object, not all people can take the most benefit from LHR.

Laser needs the color of object to absorb it. The darker color is easier to absorb it. Therefore, LSR is commonly more recommended for people with dark hairs and light skin. Light skin is likely to absorb the radiation of laser so thus this can help reduce the skin damage [1].

So we can say that the intense radiation of laser can be absorbed by the pigment of the hair follicles, which then this can destroy the follicles. Each pulse of the radiation can affect the follicles at the same time.

However, the large of area where the hairs need to be removed can have an effect on how long you have to take the treatment. Large areas such as legs or backs can take about 60 minutes, and only less than 60 seconds for upper lips or other small areas.

Are there any issues you need to know before taking the treatment?

It is more than just zapping hair, because there are several crucial procedures you need to concern before you take it. This is important to eliminate the potential risks.

Before going to LHR, your doctor or specialist needs to check the reaction of your skin to laser. This is needed to make sure that it is safe and to determine the most appropriate energy of laser that meets to your body needs.

Furthermore, your doctor usually will evaluate your medical history (including whether or not you are using certain medication). She /he also will tell you about anything that you can expect after the treatment and the possible risks that may occur.

image_illustration102If your doctor say yes you can take it, the following are major things you need to prepare before taking LHR:

  1. The sun exposure is usually the major concern that you need to avoid about 6 weeks before and after the treatment. Excessive sun exposure can reduce the effectiveness of laser in removing hair. And after the treatment, it can increase your risk of having redness or other complications.
  2. Since the laser can work by targeting the hair follicles, it’s also recommended to avoid other hair removal methods (such as waxing, electrolytes, or plucking) about 6 weeks before the treatment!

Additionally, don’t forget to completely understand the treatment plan, especially the related costs. The cost of the treatment can vary, but generally it is dependent on:

  1. The region /country when you are taking the treatment.
  2. Whether or not other health professionals are involved in the treatment plan.
  3. The number of treatment that you will take.
  4. And of course, the large area for hair removal.

On average, each session of LHR can take about $ 235, according to ASPS (the American Society of Plastic Surgery).

Does it provide a permanent result and stop hair from growing back?

The result can vary. But over time, multiple treatments on the same site can increase the chance of getting the permanent result – though there is still a chance for the hair to grow back.

About 90 % of people who take LHR eventually have permanent hair loss. But typically, the permanent result occurs after taking multiple treatments (about 3-5 sessions of LHR) [2].

The effects of laser hair removal on tattoos

Yap, there is a chance for the radiation of laser to affect or even ruin the tattoos. This is reasonable since the laser can be absorbed by the pigment of the skin, as noted before.

The effect of LHR is usually dependent on the color of tattoo. The darker color of tattoos is more likely to absorb more radiation of laser during LHR. This means that darker color of tattoos can be easier to fade with laser.


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