What You Should Know About Laser Hair Removal

Laser Hair Removal is a quick and painless way to remove unwanted hair. But before you schedule your first appointment, read on to learn more about the process.

Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal works best for dark or black hair because the pigments in those hair colors absorb the laser’s light energy. White, gray, and red hair does not respond well to laser treatments.

In laser hair removal, light is directed at your skin. During treatment, the melanin in your hair absorbs the energy from the laser and converts it into heat, killing the hair follicle and preventing future growth. Because the beam only targets melanin, it does not damage your surrounding skin. However, you might feel a slight prickly sensation during your treatment. Your doctor may also apply a cooling device or gel to protect your skin and reduce discomfort.

The doctor will then press a hand-held laser instrument against your skin. A cooling device or gel might be applied to the tip of the instrument to protect your skin and reduce discomfort. You will need several laser treatments to remove the unwanted hair. The treatments will be spaced out according to your skin type and hair color. On areas that grow hair quickly, such as the upper lip, you will likely need to visit the office every four to eight weeks. However, on areas with slow hair growth, such as the back, you might need to visit the office every 12 to 16 weeks.

Hair growth and loss happens in a cycle, so your doctor will recommend treatment sessions at the correct time for the best results. Typically, six treatments are effective for most people. Hairs do not fall out immediately but over a course of days to weeks. When the hairs regrow, they will be finer and lighter in color.

Some hairs do not respond to laser treatment, such as white, grey and blond hair. This is because these hairs do not contain enough pigment to hold the laser light. It is important to avoid sun exposure and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen after your laser treatments.

How Long Does It Take?

During your laser hair removal treatment, you will wear special goggles to protect your eyes from the laser’s light beam. The technician will use a numbing cream on the area you’re treating to reduce discomfort, especially if you have sensitive skin. Depending on the size of the area you’re having treated, your treatment may take up to an hour.

For the best results, you’ll need multiple laser hair removal sessions. At each session, the laser will kill off between 25% and 70% of your hair follicles. The remaining hairs will begin to shed, revealing the destroyed follicles. After multiple treatments, you’ll be left with much thinner, lighter hair that regrows less quickly than before.

The exact number of treatment sessions you’ll need will depend on your unique hair growth cycle, the color and texture of your hair and your skin tone, how long you’ve had unwanted hair, and other factors. Your doctor will be able to provide you with an estimated number of treatments required to achieve your desired results.

Your doctor will advise you on how to prepare for your treatment sessions, including avoiding plucking or waxing because these activities temporarily remove the hair follicles and roots, which are the targets of laser treatment. You should also avoid sunless tanning or using other skin products that darken the surface of your skin, and you’ll need to take a few weeks off of any blood-thinning medications, such as aspirin.

Once you’ve completed your series of laser treatments, you won’t have to worry about regrowing unwanted hair. The hair that does reappear will be finer and lighter in color. However, if you’re concerned about regrowth, your doctor can suggest maintenance laser treatments.

When you’re considering laser hair removal, choose a doctor who is board-certified in a medical specialty such as dermatology or cosmetic surgery and has experience performing the procedure on your specific skin type. You should also avoid spas and salons that allow nonmedical staff to perform laser treatments. A doctor can assure you that your treatment will be safe, effective and worth the out-of-pocket expense.

What Are the Side Effects?

The laser hair removal process is relatively safe. However, there are a few things that people should be aware of. Firstly, it’s important to make sure that the practitioner who performs the treatment is trained and licensed. Ideally, they should be on a register that shows that they meet set standards in training, skill and insurance. You should also avoid anyone who claims to be a practitioner but does not appear on a registry.

During the procedure, your skin may feel sensitive or slightly painful. It is important to follow any instructions that the practitioner gives you for preparing your skin before treatment and care afterward.

A numbing gel or cream is often used to treat areas of the skin that are particularly sensitive to laser heat. The numbing process typically takes a few minutes, but the time needed to fully numb your skin can vary depending on the size of the area that you’re treating.

Once the numbing has taken effect, your practitioner will begin to use the laser on the treatment area. You may notice a slight stinging sensation as the laser destroys your hair follicles. This can feel similar to a rubber band snapping against your skin. The discomfort is typically only minor and most people find that it’s a lot less painful than waxing or using razors.

After your session, your skin might be a little red and swollen. You should try to minimise this side effect by avoiding direct sunlight and using a cold compress on your skin. It is also important to use a good quality sunscreen (minimum SPF30) on the treated area between sessions.

Some people might experience longer-term side effects if the laser isn’t used correctly. These include ‘burn marks’ that look like scars and are usually hard to reverse. This can occur if the laser’s light is directed at the wrong surface of your skin, or if it’s being used on a tanned or dark complexion.

In addition, those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not have laser hair removal treatments. This is because there is no evidence that it’s safe for the baby.

What Can I Expect?

The laser light emitted by the device targets the pigment in hair follicles, which is converted to heat that destroys or weakens the follicle and causes it to stop producing hair. This is permanent for the follicle, meaning that once it has undergone several treatments, hair will no longer grow in that particular area. The laser can be used to treat a variety of areas, including the upper and lower legs, arms, bikini area, underarms, neck, chest, and shoulders. Unlike waxing, the process can be done without damaging surrounding skin tissue.

Before a treatment, technicians clean the targeted area and may apply numbing gel to reduce discomfort. The treatment varies in duration depending on the size of the area treated. A small area like the underarms might only take a few minutes, while a larger area, such as the back, can take over an hour. Most men and women report a slight discomfort during the procedure, but this varies between individuals. Some describe it as a feeling similar to snapping rubber bands on the skin, while others don’t experience any pain at all.

After a session, the affected area can appear red and swollen for up to 24 hours, and may have a scaly appearance. The irritation is normal, and can be reduced with cold compresses and moisturizers. It is important to avoid plucking, waxing, or bleaching the area between sessions because these actions can interfere with the laser’s ability to target the hair follicles.

Once the first course of treatments is complete, most men and women experience an 80%+ reduction in unwanted hair growth and are able to go for extended periods of time without shaving or waxing. In order to maintain these great results, most people require maintenance treatments every 3-12 months, depending on their individual hair cycle and the areas that were treated.

After completing your full course, your laser practitioner will evaluate the results and may recommend additional treatments or a maintenance schedule for the best results. Typically, we recommend a series of 6-12 laser treatments for women and 8 for men.