Introduction to laser hair removal in Singapore
Do you struggle with removing unwanted hair from growing in certain areas, using temporary methods like shaving, plucking or waxing?
Besides having to repeat them regularly, such methods can also lead to the development of other side effects like:
- Ingrown hair
There's an increasing demand for safe, long-lasting and effective hair removal methods.
This article walks you through all you need to know about laser hair removal in Singapore.
What is laser hair removal?
Laser hair removal is a method of hair removal whereby long-lasting damage to hair follicles is achieved on exposure to laser light beams.
At present, there are 3 primary laser permanent hair removal technologies available:
Alexandrite Laser (755nm) – used to treat fair to mid-toned skin with medium to coarse dark hair.
ND: YAG Laser (1064 nm) – used to treat darker skin types with coarse hair.
Diode Laser (800-810 nm) – used to treat fair to mid-toned skin as well as dark fine hair.
Within these devices are brand names like Alma, Cynosure, Candela and Lumenis.
How much does laser hair removal cost in Singapore?
IPL sessions can cost from $50 onwards, whereas Laser hair removal sessions tend to cost from $150 onwards.
However, lasers can deliver better results in fewer sessions at greater safety.
Price in Singapore
IPL hair removal
1. Hair removal
★★★ ☆ ☆
2. Brown spots
★★★ ☆ ☆
$50 - $200 per area
Long-pulse Near-IR lasers
- Soprano ICE (Alexandrite)
- Ruby lasers
1. Light hair removal
$200 - $500 per area
- Fotona VERSA3/ FRAC3
- Cutera Excel V
1. Hair removal for all skin types
$200 - $500 per area
How does laser hair removal work?
The use of lasers for permanent hair removal has indeed come a long way since the mid-1990s. Older generations of lasers were slow and painful, and they only worked on individuals who had very dark hair and very light skin. These devices are therefore often preceded by their reputation.
Thanks to innovation, we now have more sophisticated devices that can work on all skin colours and on any area of the body.
Medical grade lasers work by emitting a single wavelength of light which results in maximised laser penetration to the targeted area. The light emitted is absorbed by the pigment in the hair, concentrating on the hair shaft. This causes the hair to be eliminated without harming the skin or follicle.
Lasers need coloured pigments for effective delivery of action. The beam of light for hair removal is filtered into a specific wavelength for it to be absorbed by the coloured pigment contained within the hair.
In a way, the pigment serves as a target for the laser. Otherwise, the laser will just pass through the skin and will have no effect.
What is Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment?
IPL has evolved significantly over the years, and has been used safely for the cosmetic treatment of unwanted hair and pigmentation.
IPL uses a high-output flashlamp – essentially a very bright flashbulb – to produce a broad wavelength output.
This non-coherent (multiple-wavelength) light is directed towards the end of the handpiece, which then releases energy pulses on the skin’s surface.
The light energy is absorbed by the melanin in brown or black hair, resulting in thermal injury (selective photothermolysis) to the follicles of actively growing hairs – or those in the anagen phase.
When hair is destroyed in this growth phase, the follicle itself is also destroyed, and is incapable of producing hair in the future.
However, there will be some hairs that are already in the later phases of their growth cycle. As such, the follicle may not be destroyed and will replace the destroyed strands some weeks later.
This is the reason why permanent hair removal treatments require several sessions in specific time intervals.
What's the difference between IPL and laser hair removal in Singapore?
To clear up some confusion that's common amongst my patients, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment does not use lasers, hence it's quite misleading to call it as such.
As with lasers, IPL is also considered a light-based hair removal treatment, but they are in fact non-laser high intensity light sources.
The main difference between IPL and laser is the type of light energy used in each method.
IPL emits a broad-spectrum visible light which consists of many different wavelengths.
By applying filters on an IPL handpiece, the operator is able to block out other wavelengths except for a narrow range that is suitable for the individual’s skin type and condition.
Nonetheless, even by using filters, the small range of different wavelengths emitted from the IPL still makes it less selective and harder to control in application compared to a laser.
In other words, light is absorbed by different targets at various skin depths, resulting in less energy being directed to the hair follicle.
What affects the effectiveness of IPL hair removal?
Your hair colour and size are important factors in predicting the efficacy of hair removal through IPL.
Coarse and dark hair has a higher tendency to absorb more energy, and responds better than light and fine hair.
As a matter of fact, blonde and white hair does not respond to IPL. Alternative hair removal treatments that don't depend on hair pigment for treatment efficacy would be more adequate if you have blonde and/or white hair.
How does IPL differ from Laser hair removal in terms of effectiveness?
IPL treatments require >10 treatments and it renders less permanent results. This is because the machine lacks focus as to where the light energy is emitted. This lack of precision means that IPL has to be delivered in lower settings for safety.
Laser sessions usually require about 6-8 sessions with relatively more permanence in hair removal. Overall, fewer treatment sessions are required than for IPL.
Why is laser hair removal more effective than IPL?
In individuals with darker skin tones, negative side effects like burns or skin darkening might arise due to the effect of IPL on surrounding skin.
Lasers, on the other hand, emit a concentrated light beam of a single wavelength at a certain pulse duration.
It ensures that melanin in skin pigment is minimised as a target, but maximised in the hair follicle.
This makes lasers a more precise tool in removing hair effectively as compared to IPL, with a lower risk of causing damage to the surrounding skin.
Why is IPL so cheap in Singapore?
There are several establishments in Singapore that offer IPL treatments at incredibly low prices. You might feel like you're getting quite a good deal, but the trade-off is that you may have to go for many more sessions in the long run.
It's also important to note that even though IPL is widely used, it doesn’t mean that it is the safest. There have been reported incidents where it resulted in burns and scarring.
To ensure patient safety, IPL has to be used with great care at low settings for darker skin types (Fitzpatrick II-VI), which is why its hair removal action may not be as strong as its laser counterpart.
What's the cost-effectiveness of IPL vs Laser hair removal?
IPL sessions can cost from $50 onwards, whereas Laser hair removal sessions tend to cost from $150 onwards.
However, lasers can deliver better results in fewer sessions at greater safety. This makes Laser hair removal more cost-efficient over the long-run.
Is IPL or Laser hair removal more painful?
There is mild discomfort for both treatments.
However, both treatments tend to be well-tolerated by most patients as topical anaesthetic cream will be applied, and you will only experience mild discomfort such as a warm pinprick during the session.
Is IPL or Laser hair removal in Singapore safer?
Laser treatments use only one wavelength, as compared to multiple wavelengths for IPLs.
Laser treatments hence allow for more precise and safer energy delivery to the hair follicle instead of the surrounding skin.
Who is laser hair removal most suitable for?
Laser hair removal is suitable for anyone looking to reduce excess or unwanted hair. Modern society increasingly associates female attractiveness with the image of smooth, sanitised, and clean-shaven body skin.
As a result, excess or unwanted hair can negatively impact one’s self-confidence, and may even give rise to psychological conditions such as anxiety.
There are also practical reasons why some people choose to undergo laser hair removal. Some do it to minimise body odour, while others do it to prevent recurrent infections, such as those arising from areas of ingrown hair.
Areas commonly treated are the:
- Upper lip
- Bikini line
However, it is possible to treat unwanted hair in almost any area with laser hair removal, with the exception of the eye region.
As a note of caution, certain medical conditions like hirsutism and hypertrichosis can result in excess hair growth, hence I would urge you to consult your physician and exclude them first before proceeding with laser hair removal.
What hair colours are suitable for laser hair removal?
Laser hair removal works best when there is a contrast between hair and skin colour (e.g. fair skin tone with dark coloured hair).
Therefore, hair colours that do not absorb light well such as blond, white and grey coloured hair are less responsive to laser hair removal treatment.
What are the benefits of laser hair removal?
Here is a list of some of the benefits.
Laser hair removal only has a few minor side effects, and those that do occur tend to last no longer than several days.
It may cost more upfront, but you will save a good amount in the long run by not having to spend on temporary hair removal procedures. You also save time that would otherwise be spent shaving or waxing.
Unlike waxing, threading, and epilating, you do not have to endure uncomfortable and unsightly partially formed hairs.
Laser hair removal can resolve in-grown hair, so you will not have to tolerate razor burns or irritation.
Laser hair removal targets hair directly at the hair follicle. This means the root cause is targeted precisely and is not likely to result in damage to the surrounding skin.
Treatment duration is quick, although speed will depend on the size of the treatment area, and you will likely see results in the first few weeks.
Laser hair removal is very effective. After 6-8 sessions, some patients achieve almost permanent hair loss.
Is laser hair removal permanent?
Laser hair removal permanently disrupts hair growth, and this results in finer and lighter strands, a permanent reduction in hair density, and a longer time taken for new hair to regrow.
However, the exact amount of time needed for hair to grow back depends on each individual’s hair growth cycle and stage.
With some sessions of the correct treatment, at properly planned intervals, laser hair removal reaches a semi-permanent state - it can take years to regrow!
How many sessions of laser hair removal will I need?
Most people need 6 to 8 sessions for ideal results, with a 15% to 20% reduction seen after the first session.
Results become more noticeable with subsequent sessions as the hair that remains or regrows in the area will be sparser and finer.
The time interval between each session ranges from 4 to 16 weeks, depending on the amount of hair in the treatment location, and how quickly hair grows back in the area.
What should I take note of before going for a laser hair removal?
To prepare for laser hair removal, here are some guidelines you might be requested to follow, in order to maximize treatment effectiveness and decrease the risks of complications.
Avoid sun tanning and exposure to sunlight. Protect your skin before going outdoors using a broad-spectrum sunblock (at least SPF 30 and PA +++) for 6 weeks prior to the procedure. If you use self-tanning products, your tan has to fade completely before your laser hair treatment.
Do not pluck, wax, epilate or electrolyse for 4 to 6 weeks beforehand, in order to keep the hair follicle intact.
Shaving can continue up to the day before the procedure, as it removes hair above the skin that might cause surface damage while keeping the hair shaft under the skin intact.
There will be an initial consultation at the clinic before treatment. During this consultation, your doctor or nurse will discuss your medical history and examine your skin, to determine if you are suitable for treatment.
The targeted area will be cleaned before treatment begins and a topical anaesthetic cream will be applied to the area to improve comfort.
What are the side effects of laser hair removal?
Even though lasers generally have a wider margin of safety than IPL, you still might experience temporary side effects relating to skin irritation such as:
which typically subsides within a few days.
Some areas might also crust up, and these can be managed with gentle moisturisers and allowing them to fall off naturally without picking at them. Adequate aftercare protects the crusts from becoming infected or scarred.
Of course, this also depends on the type of laser technology used, as well as the treatment technique! Best laser technology and techniques result in the least side effects.
If you have a darker skin tone, or when unsuitable lasers or laser parameters are used, less common side effects may develop, like:
- Skin lightening or darkening
Therefore, I urge you to consult someone with experience and knowledge to reduce the risk of side effects. Lastly, avoiding sun exposure and the daily use of a broad-spectrum sunblock is key to post-treatment care.
Side effects of laser hair removal may include crusting, discolouration after treatment, swelling, and redness. Sunlight during healing after the procedure should be avoided.
What are the latest developments for hair removal lasers in Singapore?**
A new non-ablative laser method called FRAC3 has been developed recently using an ND:YAG laser.
FRAC3 achieves fractional three-dimensional damage to skin imperfections by using intense laser pulses delivered in extremely short times of less than 2ms.
This makes it the only hair removal laser that employs micro-pulse laser durations. All other hair removal and even IPL devices all use long-pulse duration instead.
This method preserves surrounding healthy tissues while providing a larger healing surface, compared to standard hair removal laser technologies.
FRAC3 has been found to be very suitable in laser hair removal treatments, and when compared to standard long pulse laser methods, it reduces discomfort and delivers more effective results.
FRAC3 also targets fine/light hairs much more effectively than the standard long-pulsed hair removal lasers.
Laser hair removal is safe, effective and a long term solution for unwanted hair growth.
With advancements in laser science, individuals with dark skin tones are able to benefit from laser hair removal using the correct equipment and technique.
Speak to your trusted doctor should you have any concerns regarding excess hair growth, to ascertain that it is not a symptom of deeper medical issues, as well as discuss your suitability for laser hair removal.
I hope this article assists you in selecting the hair removal method that suits you best!
Dr Fan is an aesthetic doctor at Veritas Medical Aesthetics. She graduated from the University of Nottingham in England and worked in various departments in public institutions before entering aesthetic medicine. She takes an interest in addressing aesthetics concerns in a greying population.
She is also invited to speak at regional training conferences, sharing the latest advances in aesthetic medicine. Most recently, Dr Fan lectured in ADAC—the Aesthetic Dermatology Academy Conference.