What is Laser Hair Removal?

Laser hair removal is a noninvasive way to reduce or remove unwanted body and is one of the most popular minimally invasive cosmetic treatments in the United States. If you’re wondering “How does laser hair removal work?”, the procedure is actually simple.

During the process, the laser light is directed at the area being treated and gets absorbed by the pigment in the hair itself, which sits in the hair follicle. The heat is generated down the hair follicle, it will destroy the hair growth center in the follicle and should not create new hair.

Since hair goes through a resting and growth cycle, if your hair is in a resting cycle it may not absorb enough laser light to generate enough heat to destroy the hair growth center as a result treatments are scheduled every 4-6 weeks.

Preparing for Laser Hair Removal

Before you have a laser hair removal, do not pluck, wax, or use electrolysis for at least six weeks. These methods remove the hair root temporarily, and laser attacks precisely this part of the hair. If there are no hair follicles, the procedure is not effective. Shaving is fine before laser hair removal.

Sun tanning is also inadvisable for at least six weeks before laser treatment since sun exposure makes the deeper layers of skin much more at risk for and vulnerable to damage. Before the procedure, the hair will be trimmed a little and the laser equipment will be set according to the color, thickness, and location of the hair and the skin color. Cold gel will be applied to the skin that will be treated; this is to protect the outmost layer of skin and help the laser penetrate the deeper layers of skin.

Does Skin or Hair Color Make a Difference?

Hair removal works best on people with light complexions who have dark hair. This is because the pigment contrast makes it easier for the laser to target the hair travel into the follicle and destroy the follicle.

How Many Sessions Does Laser Hair Removal Take?

There is no magic number of hair laser sessions, hair grows in cycles and depends if your hair is in an active or resting growth cycle. The cycle is 4-6 weeks, therefore multiple sessions will be needed to reduce the number of hair producing follicles.

Average number of sessions vary from 4-7 sessions and are dependent on hair and skin color and texture. Although laser hair removal is permanent, some patients do experience some fine re-growth after about a year and may require one treatment annually for maintenance.

Does Laser Hair Removal Hurt?

It’s slightly more uncomfortable in certain areas where the skin tends to be more sensitive such as along your top lip and bikini line but as the sessions go on and the hair decreases, the feeling diminishes, too. Ice and numbing cream are used to minimize pain.

Are there any Health Risks or Side Effects?

Serious complications related to laser hair removal are rare. The most common side effects include:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Discomfort and skin irritation

They typically subside within a few days after the treatment. If symptoms persist, you should contact your medical specialist. Less common side effects include:

  • Scars
  • Burns
  • Blisters
  • Infections
  • Permanent changes in skin color

What to Expect After Laser Hair Removal?

Most patients return to their daily activities after treatments. Sunscreen is important to wear after the procedure, as direct sun will irritate the treated area. Expect to see a reduction in the number of hairs in the treated area immediately after the procedure. Typically, patients see a 10 to 25 percent reduction in hair after the first treatment. It typically takes between three and eight sessions for permanent hair loss.

Target areas for Hair Removal

Target areas include:

  • Back
  • Shoulders
  • Arms
  • Chest
  • Bikini area
  • Legs
  • Neck
  • Upper lip
  • Chin

What are the Pros?

  • While laser hair removal doesn’t get rid of hair forever it does drastically reduce hair growth—to the point that you can stop shaving altogether.
  • You can get it done anywhere on the body, and the machine can cover large places fast. Legs, back, underarms, bikini line, stomach, face.
  • When it comes to pain level, laser hair removal is minimal pain. The technicians use ice to help numb the area before and after the laser treatment. It also gets progressively less painful as treatments continue and the hair becomes finer.

What are the Cons?

  • Although a session of laser hair removal on the underarms takes less than a minute. It takes multiple sessions to see real results.
  • Since the contrast between the color of the skin and the color of the pigment in the hair follicle is what allows the laser to easily pick out what to target, laser hair removal works best on fair skin with dark hair and worse on darker skin.
  • When it comes to cost, it’s expensive more expensive than other methods such as waxing.

Dos and Don’ts of Laser Hair Removal

Do shave in between treatments. This is the best way to quickly remove hair without damaging the root. Don’t apply heavy make-up for 24 hours after your laser treatment to avoid clogging the skin and causing breakouts. If you must opt for mineral types, Do avoid sun exposure and lay off the fake tan, too. Lasers are more compatible with paler skin-types, so, even though a tan looks great, it’ll minimize the efficiency of the laser, preventing the energy from making its way to the root of the hair.

Finding the Right Provider is Key

Like all procedures even non-invasive treatments can be dangerous in inexperienced hands. Research and find the right doctor or dermatologist for you with the right qualification, otherwise, you are throwing money at treatments that may not work or could harm you, such as blisters and scars.