Hair removal is something we all do, whether it is from our face, arms, legs, or other body parts. Two standard methods of doing this are waxing and shaving. But there’s something better, with more long-lasting results — laser hair removal.
Laser hair removal involves using a concentrated light beam to eliminate unwanted hair on the skin. During the medical procedure, the melanin hair pigment absorbs the laser light. The heat from the light energy then destroys the hair follicle (tube-shaped sacs) that produce hair.
As a result, you experience delayed hair growth. However, while it might take a while for hair to grow in the lasered area, the effect is not permanent. Therefore, you’ll need to undergo several laser hair removals starting with the standard treatment and then maintenance treatments.
The primary function of laser hair removal is removing or reducing unwanted hair from the legs, armpits, chin, bikini line, and upper lip. However, the treatment does not apply to the eyelids or areas around the eyes and tattooed skin.
The procedure works best with light-skinned individuals because hair and skin color affect the success of laser hair removal. This is because the hair pigment and not skin color absorb the laser light, and the laser should only affect the hair and not harm the skin.
Therefore, the best results are seen with dark hair and light skin because the contrast reduces the risk of skin damage. However, this does not mean people with darker skin cannot undergo laser hair removal. Technological advancement has improved the success rate of laser hair removal on dark skin.
For instance, the National Library of Medicine reports that the Blend diode laser is more effective and satisfactory than the 810 nm diode laser on dark skin types III and IV. Furthermore, laser hair removal treatments do not work well with gray, red, blonde, and white hair because they do not absorb light well.
Some hair removal options like waxing are quite painful, while others like shaving must be done repeatedly. The story is different with laser hair removal treatment. There are several benefits to undergoing this procedure, and we listed some of them below.
● It Saves Time
If you want a time-efficient solution, go for laser hair removal. Although you will undergo multiple sessions at the beginning, they only take a few minutes to an hour. Also, the treatment area determines how long the session will last.
● It Is Less Painful
Have you ever snapped a rubber against your skin?
If yes, the feeling you got is similar to that of laser hair removal. While it is not without discomfort, it is far less painful than waxing. However, your pain threshold determines how you feel during the procedure.
● It Is Precise
One factor that differentiates this treatment from other kinds of hair removal is its precision. Laser hair removal targets coarse, dark hairs without damaging the surrounding skin.
● It Is Fast
During the procedure, each laser pulse takes only a fraction of a second and targets many hairs within that time. So if the treatment is for a small area like the upper lip, it takes less than a minute. But larger areas like the legs or back might extend to an hour.
● It Prevents Regrowth
Laser hair removal treatment, unlike waxing and plucking, prevents hair regrowth, leaving your skin smooth and hairless. Also, it prevents ingrown hairs expected with shaving by destroying hair follicles.
There are things you must do before going for laser hair removal to ensure you get the best result. Here are our recommendations on how to prepare for the procedure:
● Don’t Pluck or Wax
Since laser hair removal treatment targets the hair follicles, avoid plucking or waxing before going for the procedure. We recommend not doing both for four to six weeks before the treatment. If you can’t stand the sight of the hair, try shaving as it leaves the root in place.
After the treatment, you can continue plucking or waxing if you wish since there are usually about eight to ten weeks intervals. But since you have to stop at least four to six weeks before your next appointment, plucking or waxing would be counterproductive.
● Shave the Targeted Area
Shave the targeted area for at least 24 to 48 hours before the treatment. You don’t have to worry about the absence of hair on the surface, as the laser can still target the pigment in the root hair. Also, shaving is crucial to prevent burns.
● Don’t Expose Yourself to Sunlight
Keep your skin away from excessive sunlight for at least two weeks before the laser hair removal treatment. In addition, avoid using tanning lotions and tanning beds. If you fail to, you might suffer skin discoloration after the treatment.
Also, if you suffer a sunburn before the procedure, you will experience excessive pain and blistering. Therefore, we generally avoid treating patients with sunburn and will reschedule your appointment. So, if you must go outside, ensure you use sunscreen.
● Don’t Bleach Your Hair
If you bleach your skin and facial hair to reduce its appearance, stop before going for laser hair removal. Since laser hair removal targets the pigment and bleaching changes the color, it makes it difficult for the laser light to destroy the hair follicle. Stop bleaching six weeks before the laser hair removal treatment to allow the hair to regain its natural coloring.
● Check the Medications You’re Taking
When going for laser hair treatment, tell the medical specialist or physician the type of medications you are on. This is crucial as some drugs affect the effectiveness of the treatment, while others make the skin sensitive, leading to burns or blisters.
Some drugs that lead to this reaction are birth control pills, antibiotics, photosensitizing drugs, and medications for acne. While you do not have to stop taking the drugs, the information helps the physician adjust your treatment.
Before the laser hair removal, the medical specialist or a registered nurse cleans the targeted area. If that part of your body is extremely sensitive, the physician will apply a numbing gel.
During the procedure, everyone taking part in it wears protective eyewear to avoid damaging their eyes with the laser lights. Immediately after the numbing gel takes effect, the physician focuses the high-energy light beam on the targeted area.
You might perceive a sulfur-like smell from the smoke puffs as the energy from the laser vaporizes the hair. After the treatment, you may receive ice packs, anti-inflammatory creams, lotions, or cold water to help with discomfort.
Typically, you should start seeing hair fall out within one to three weeks after the treatment. Note that you will experience hair regrowth, especially if you have only had one treatment, as the laser might not get all the root hair. But the growth rate will be quite slow.
The result of the laser hair removal treatment improves with time. So, the more procedures you undergo, the closer you will be to achieving your primary goal — total hair removal. You will know if the treatment is successful four to six weeks after the last procedure.
Yes, you need to keep scheduling appointments until hair stops growing. You can schedule each treatment four to six weeks apart.
There is minimal risk to laser hair removal treatments. Some common side effects are swelling, redness, discomfort, and skin irritation, which subside within days of the treatment. But if they persist, see your doctor.
Other common side effects are blisters, infections, burns, scars, and permanent changes to skin color. Your chances of suffering any of these reduce if you use a skilled medical professional. The American Academy of Dermatologists recommends using only board-certified dermatologists to lower the risk of complications.
The amount you pay for laser hair removal depends on several factors. This includes:
Laser hair removal procedures could cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. Also, since laser hair removal is an elective treatment, your medical insurance does not cover it.
Laser hair removal treatment is the best option if you want to enjoy smooth, hairless skin. Within a week of treatment, you will start seeing the result, and by your last appointment, you can say goodbye to stubborn root hair.
Our leading physician, Dr. Peter Martinez-Noda, is a general medicine and anti-aging expert. He has over 20 years of experience and will give you the highest standard of care in a welcoming and professional environment. Call today to schedule a free consultation.