Laser hair removal is a medical procedure that uses a laser, an intense pulsating beam of light to remove unwanted hair. During laser hair removal, a laser beam passes through the skin to an individual hair follicle. The intense heat of the laser destroys the hair follicle, which prevents future hair growth. An ideal candidate for laser hair removal is a person with light skin and dark pigmented hair. Although laser hair removal effectively slows hair growth, it doesn’t guarantee permanent hair removal. It typically takes several laser hair removal treatments to provide an extended hair-free period. Periodic maintenance treatments might be needed as well.
Laser hair removal is used to remove unwanted hair. Common treatment locations include legs, back, chest, abs, underarms, upper lip, chin and bikini areas. However, it’s entirely possible to treat unwanted hair in nearly any area except the eyelid or surrounding area.
Hair color and skin type can influence the success of laser hair removal. For example, laser hair removal is most effective for people who have light skin and dark hair because the laser beam targets the pigment (melanin) in the hair. However, advances in technology have made laser hair removal an option for people who have darker skin.
Although treatment options for lighter hair continue to be investigated, laser hair removal isn’t generally very effective for white, gray, red or blond hair,
Before laser hair removal, you should schedule a consultation to learn more about the procedure. Followings are generally reviewed during the laser hair removal consultation:
- Medical history, including medication use
- Risks, benefits and expectations
- Be sure to discuss a treatment plan and related costs
If you decide to go ahead and do the laser hair removal treatment you should pay close attention to the followings:
- Limit the sun exposure especially two weeks before you treatment. Getting laser hair removal while your skin is tanned n tan can cause hyper or hypopigmentation (depending on your skin color).
- Avoid waxing, plucking and tweezing the hair. If you waxing, tweezing or plucking while in laser hair removal treatment can make your treatment ineffective. However you can shave at any time which will preserve the root of the hair.
- Shave 24 hours before your treatment. This will ensure best results and lesser pain involved during the treatment.
- Avoid excessive sweating and irritation to the treated areas up to 24 hours after the treatment.
- Apply plenty of sunscreen preferably SPF 30 or higher to the treated area after the treatment.
For best results, you may need up to six treatments spaced six weeks apart. Additional periodic maintenance or touch up treatments may be required on an annual basis to keep the hairs off.
How many treatments will I need?
Hairs are not all actively growing at the same time. They actually go through three distinct phases: growth, regression, and resting. After the resting stage, the hair falls out and the hair follicle begins the cycle again.
How does laser hair removal work?
The laser works by disabling the hair that is principally in the active growth phase at the time of treatment. Since other hairs will enter this active growth phase at different times, additional treatments may be necessary to disable all hair follicles in a given area. You may find that around 3 to 10 days after treatment hairs will begin to surface. Most of these hairs were treated and are “falling out” and will not regrow. The hair follicles need to purge the hairs that remained under the skin. Treatments are usually given at intervals of 4 to 6 weeks.
Am I a good candidate?
The ideal candidate for most hair reduction lasers has dark hair and light skin. Darker hairs will absorb more of the laser light, and lighter skin allows more transmission of the laser light into the hair follicle. Age, ethnicity, medication, hormone levels, and body site influence the length, coarseness and color of body hair. How much hair you have depends on how many hairs are in the active growth phase, and how long that phase lasts.
Are there any side effects of laser hair removal?
Short-term side effects may include a slight reddening of the skin or local swelling which typically lasts less than an hour, although it may infrequently last a few days. Long wavelength 1064 lasers and pulsed light treatments are less likely than older lasers to cause prolonged irritation, pigment changes or blistering. Rarely (perhaps 2-4 cases out of a hundred) there can be increased or decreased pigment in the treated area. This is seldom a major cosmetic problem, and generally resolves after several months. Even a single blister is very rare (less than two in a hundred).
The light does not cause skin cancer. Even though adverse reactions are rare, no one can guarantee that they will not occur in some individuals, we do everything in our power to try and reduce any incidence of adverse reactions, but even with the best of care, they can still occur in certain individuals because of various individual sensitivities, genetic variances, and allergies to laser/pulsed light, which is impossible to predict or know in advance of the treatment. Try to reduce fresh suntans or sun exposure before any laser and pulsed light treatments.
How long does laser hair removal last?
Unlike plucking, waxing, tweezing, laser hair removal does not run the risk of making hair grow back thicker, darker, or quicker. After laser/pulsed light treatment, hair growth will frequently be delayed, AND if and when hair does grow back, it is often lighter, finer, and less dense.