Pubic hair removal: laser and IPL for permanent genital hair removal

Like many other designer vagina procedures, permanent IPL or laser genital hair removal has been on the rise in the past two decades. Laser hair removal in general has been one of the most performed minimally invasive cosmetic procedures in the past decade right after Botox injections and dermal fillers.

Although there is no standard for an ideal or perfect female genital area, when thinking about genital hair the majority of people has shifted towards a full Brazilian look: according to studies around 85% of the female population reports some form of pubic hair grooming, while the remaining 15% reporting never grooming is generally older than 55, or comes from a culture where pubic hair grooming is not well regarded, or is not sexually active.

permanent pubic hair removal with laser or ipl
Woman photo created by lifeforstock – www.freepik.com

Reasons for pubic hair removal

This trend may have originated due to progressively smaller bikinis, widespread internet and adult movies, and celebrity trends reported on medias. Most women report the following reasons for choosing pubic hair removal:

  • Better hygiene
  • Because they believe their genitals look better
  • Or because their partner preferers so

Sex is also one of the most common motivators for pursuing hair removal and receiving cunnilingus is among the top reasons.

Complications related to non-permanent pubic hair removal

Waxing, shaving and other home methods for hair removal are widespread. But all these non-permanent methods commonly lead to complications which sometimes discourage women to further pursue this practice. Among the most common complications of non-permanent genital hair removal there are:

  • Stubble
  • Ingrown hair
  • Skin Rashes
  • Skin Bumps
  • Skin abrasion
  • Lacerations or genital cuts
  • Wax burns
  • Infections
  • Itching
  • Pain

Although rare, serious complications have also been reported in the medical literature such as:

  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as herpes simplex, molluscum contagiosum and shingles from contaminated beauty salon equipment or providers.
  • Septic shock, due to other infections such as from Staphylococcus.

All these infections, especially in immunocompromised patients, are an important concern.

Recurrent inflammation of the genital area and chronic waxing also cause hyperpigmentation of the female genitalia which has led to the increase in demand for vaginal whitening procedures.

Why choosing laser or IPL permanent genital hair removal?

Laser and IPL are permanent hair removal technologies. For this reason, all complications related to non-permanent methods can be avoided for a lifetime. Moreover, with permanent hair removal there are no recurrent costs and loss of time, and the hassle and psychological stress of “being ready” when there is a sexual encounter or doctor’s appointment, with the former possibly being unexpected, is removed.

IPL or Laser for permanent genital hair removal?

The appropriate device is chosen according to the patient’s characteristics:

  • Alexandrite lasers and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) devices are generally not indicated on darker skin types or on tanned patients.
  • Diode lasers and Nd:YAG lasers are suitable also for darker skin with Nd:YAG laser devices considered the safest.

Laser devices emit high energy beams that target a specific color (chromophore); in the case of hair removal they target melanin, the pigment responsible for the hair color. The energy hitting the target is converted in heat which is then transferred to the real target of hair removal procedures: the hair follicle. When follicular stem cells and/or dermal papilla at the base of the hair follicle are damaged, permanent hair removal is achieved.

There are several different devices available for permanent hair removal produced by different brands: they employ different wavelengths, pulse duration, and energy output. If the appropriate device is not chosen, the energy may be absorbed by the skin too which presents competing pigments, resulting in skin damage. Cooling before and after the use of these devices as well as the use of cooling gels may help prevent and minimize skin injury.

Indications and contraindications for IPL and Laser genital hair removal

Darker and thicker hair are efficiently targeted by IPL and laser devices, while white, blonde, red, light colored and vellus hair are not good candidates for treatment especially when associated with darker skin. In general, pubic hair tend to respond well to treatment due to their characteristics.

Recent sun exposure and the use of certain supplements or medications represent a temporary contraindication to the procedure. Sunlight exposure should be avoided for at least one month before the procedure and for this reason hair removal is usually recommended during winter.

Other medical conditions such as PCOS, vitiligo and psoriasis or active infections in the area to be treated may also be a contraindication for the hair removal procedure.

Styles of genital hair removal

When it comes to genital hair grooming there are several different styles:

  1. Bikini Line. It involves the removal of all hair that would otherwise be visible outside the underwear or bikini line, in the top part of the pubic area
  2. Extended Bikini. It involves the removal of all hair not covered by bikini or underwear from both the top and the sides of the vagina.
  3. The Brazilian. It involves removing all hair from the sides of the vagina, the labia and above the bikini line, leaving only a small area with hair in the mons pubis region. This region is usually styled in the shape of a triangle, heart, custom design or as a single line known as “the landing strip”.
  4. The Full Bikini / The Full Brazilian / The Hollywood. It involves removing all pubic hair for a completely hairless and smooth genital area.

How many treatments to achieve permanent pubic hair removal?

The best time to target the hair to achieve permanent hair removal is the anagen phase, which is the growth phase, when the hair is still attached to the papilla in the hair follicle. Hair in our bodies are not synchronized all on the same phase, hence multiple treatments are required.

The duration of the anagen phase varies depending on the area of the body to be treated, hormones, genetics, season and many other factors.

Moreover, the number of treatments depends also on skin and hair type.

For genital hair removal the number of treatments required to become silky smooth and hairless is 5-10 treatments performed 4-6 weeks apart. Some clinics and doctors follow a different method, which also depends on the device used, such as weekly sessions over the course of a couple of months. Each session requires less than 15 minutes.

In some individuals, yearly maintenance sessions may be advised.

How much does permanent genital hair removal cost?

The price of pubic hair removal procedures varies depending on the type of device used, the style, the chosen clinic and doctor and on the country where you’re being treated.

In the USA the average cost per session is 150-500 USD.

In Thailand the average cost per session starts at 2000 BHT (65 USD).

Usually clinics offer packages of 3-5 sessions at a discounted rate.


Sources
  • Pubic Hair Grooming Prevalence and Motivation Among Women in the United States.
    TS Rowen, TW Gaither – JAMA Dermatology, Oct 2016
  • Complications related to pubic hair removal.
    AL DeMaria, M Flores – American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Jun 2014
  • Complications following “Brazilian” waxing for pubic hair removal.
    LV Baxi, M Dziadosz – American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dec 2014
  • Pubic Hair Preferences, Reasons for Removal, and Associated Genital Symptoms: Comparisons Between Men and Women.
    SM Butler, NK Smith – The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Jan 2015
  • Cosmetic Medicine & Surgery
    P André – CRC Press, 2016
  • The Art of Aesthetic Surgery – Principles and Techniques, 2nd Edition
    F Nahai – QMP, 2011
  • Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery – The Essentials
    D Dayicioglu – World Scientific, 2012
  • Lasers, Lights and Other Technologies.
    MC Almeida Issa, B Tamura – Springer, 2018

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