At-home laser hair removal: Can you do it yourself?
August 6, 2011
When it comes to cosmetic procedures, there are many that must be performed in a hospital or surgical center under the close watch medical professionals, and there are others that can be performed in an office on an outpatient basis.
While laser hair removal falls into the latter category, some individuals are pushing the envelope by purchasing at-home laser hair removal kits that claim to offer the same results as those done by a licensed, board-certified cosmetic surgeon at a lower cost. But do these at-home treatments work as well as professional ones? And, are they safe?
According to HairRemovalJournal.org, professional laser hair removal has been offered in dermatology and other medical practices since 1996. It is a very established treatment with proven results. In fact, as many as 1.4 million laser hair removal procedures are performed each year in the U.S. alone.
While several at-home options are currently available, experts say that they often do not offer the same results or have gone through the same rigorous testing as professionally administered laser treatments.
"The companies say after five treatments you have a 50 to 70 percent reduction in hair growth," an industry expert told ABC News. "I expect 70 to 100 percent from office devices."
At-home laser hair removal kits may also be painful to administer.
TRIA, one of the at-home devices is on sale at Bergdorf Goodman and Nordstrom for $395 and was tested by volunteers from New York Magazine. The device is ideal for those with lighter colored skin and darker hair and has had proven results, but the main complaint was the pain associated with each zap.
The machine has 5 strength levels and one volunteer said, “At the third setting, the shocks were constant and too much to bear.” A braver soul with a higher pain threshold used the device for 6 months and thought “there was minimal pain on the arms and legs, but level five in the underarm and bikini areas is not a pleasant experience.”
Experts tend to err on the side of caution, saying, "I believe it should be done with medical assistance. The risks of any device are burning, redness, even scarring if done inappropriately."
Also, a doctor could gauge the setting levels and use a topical anesthetic when necessary to avoid painful treatments that produce less than optimal hair removal. It’s important to remember that professionals are trained to effectively use lasers, so those using them on their own are often left to their own devices, which can yield unpleasant and even dangerous results.
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