Laser hair removal is a non-invasive technique that uses highly concentrated light to penetrate hair follicles. The intense heat of the laser damages the hair follicle to inhibit future hair growth. Laser hair removal is effective for most parts of the body.
Because laser hair removal only affects actively growing hair follicles, it may take several laser hair removal treatments to provide significant hair reduction. Additionally, while laser hair removal effectively slows hair growth, it doesn’t guarantee permanent hair removal. Periodic maintenance treatments may be needed.
If you’re not happy with shaving, tweezing, or waxing to remove unwanted hair, laser hair removal may be an option worth considering.
Laser hair removal is one of the most commonly done cosmetic procedures in the U.S. It beams highly concentrated light into hair follicles. Pigment in the follicles absorb the light. That destroys the hair.
Benefits of Laser Hair Removal
Lasers are useful for removing unwanted hair from the face, leg, arm, underarm, bikini line, and other areas.
Benefits of laser hair removal include:
Precision: Lasers can selectively target dark, coarse hairs while leaving the surrounding skin undamaged.
Speed: Each pulse of the laser takes a fraction of a second and can treat many hairs at the same time. The laser can treat an area approximately the size of a quarter every second. Small areas such as the upper lip can be treated in less than a minute, and large areas, such as the back or legs, may take up to an hour.
Predictability: Ninety percent of patients have permanent hair loss after an average of three to five sessions.
How to Prepare for Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is more than just “zapping” unwanted hair. It is a medical procedure that requires training to perform and carries potential risks. Before getting laser hair removal, you should thoroughly check the credentials of the doctor or technician performing the procedure.
If you are planning on undergoing laser hair removal, you should limit plucking, waxing, and electrolysis for six weeks before treatment. That’s because the laser targets the hairs’ roots, which are temporarily removed by waxing or plucking.
You should also avoid sun exposure for six weeks before and after treatment. Sun exposure makes laser hair removal less effective and makes complications after treatment more likely.
What to Expect During Laser Hair Removal
Just before the procedure, your hair that will be undergoing treatment will be trimmed to a few millimeters above the skin surface. The laser equipment will be adjusted according to the color, thickness, and location of your hair being treated as well as your skin color.
Depending on the laser or light source used, you and the technician will need to wear appropriate eye protection. It will also be necessary to protect the outer layers of your skin with a cold gel or special cooling device. This will help the laser light penetrate the skin.
Next, the technician will give a pulse of light to the treatment area and watch the area for several minutes to make sure the best settings were used and to check for bad reactions.
When the procedure is completed, you may be given ice packs, anti-inflammatory creams or lotions, or cold water to ease any discomfort. You may schedule your next treatment four to six weeks later. You’ll get treatments until hair stops growing.
Laser hair removal risks
Laser hair removal doesn’t guarantee permanent hair removal. Some hair could be resistant to the laser treatment or grow again after treatment — although the new hair growth might be finer and lighter in color.
Possible laser hair removal side effects include:
Special care must be taken for those with darker skin. A less intensive laser should be used to avoid damaging the outer skin.
Anyone who has tanned, used a spray tan, or gone to a tanning booth should avoid getting laser hair treatment to avoid possible damage to their skin.
These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It’s important that you address all your questions directly with your laser hair reduction provider.