Laser hair removal is a cosmetic procedure that uses pulsed laser energy to remove unwanted hair from a targeted area, while leaving surrounding skin unharmed. Common areas on which laser hair removal is performed are the chin, upper lip, chest, underarms, back, bikini line and legs.
Although there are many temporary treatments, including tweezing, shaving, using depilatory creams and waxing, to remove unwanted hair, patients seeking more permanent and less irritating/painful methods are frequently good candidates for laser hair removal. Through what is a safe and usually painless procedure, hair can be removed from nearly any area of the body (the eye area is an exception because of the possibility of serious eye damage).
Candidates for Laser Hair Removal
Because the laser beams used to remove hair target its melanin (pigment), the best candidates have dark hair and light skin. Conversely, those with blond, red, gray or white hair and dark skin are usually not good candidates. Recent technological advances have made laser hair removal for those with dark skin more successful, while techniques for using lasers to effectively remove light-colored hair are being investigated.
Benefits of Laser Hair Removal
There are many benefits to having unwanted hair removed through the use of laser therapy. They include the following:
- Hair is precisely targeted
- Procedure is quick
- Results are permanent (for 90 percent of patients) or long-lasting
For many patients, laser hair removal is painless, although some experience minor discomfort, usually described as something like a rubber band‘s snapping against the skin.
Laser Hair Removal Procedure
Laser hair removal is performed while the target area is numbed by a topical anesthetic. A handheld device that emits intense laser pulses is moved across the area, focusing on individual hair follicles. There are several different methods of laser hair removal, some of which combine laser impulses with radiofrequency. The appropriate method for each patient is decided in consultation with the physician administering treatment.
Hair growth takes place cyclically, in three stages. The most effective laser hair removal takes place during the andogen (full-growth) stage, because the hair follicles in this stage are susceptible to laser energy. But, because all hair is not in the same stage of growth at any given time, several laser treatments, usually between three and five, spaced 4 to 8 weeks apart, are necessary. To some extent, the length of treatment depends on the texture of the patient‘s hair, and the location from which it is being removed.
Pros & Cons of Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal has proven to be a life-changing procedure for many, as it can help save time, effort, and money. Before committing to your laser hair removal appointment, consider the following pros and cons of professional laser hair removal.
- Eliminates the need for daily shaving
- No risk of razor bumps or burns
- Reduces risk of ingrown hair
- Low-maintenance treatment for long-lasting results
- No recovery time
- May cause blistering or itching on the skin
- May cause scarring
- Requires limited time in the sun
- May interfere with tanning routine or other skin treatments
- Requires budgeting for multiple maintenance appointments
What Age Can I Begin Laser Hair Removal Treatment?
Almost anyone can have laser hair removal done. However, it’s recommended that patients are at least 18 years of age or older before beginning their first treatment. It’s important a child goes through puberty before starting treatment, as additional hair may appear in between sessions and cause a setback or delay in treatment plans. If laser hair removal becomes necessary for a minor, guardian permission may be needed.
Overall, all adults can benefit from laser hair removal surgery as long as they are in good health and have skin healthy enough to recover from laser treatment.
How Many Sessions Will I Need?
Laser hair removal works to burn off each hair follicle so that hair does not grow back in the treated area. While results will be permanent, it may take several sessions to achieve complete hair removal. Most patients have an average of four to six sessions before seeing an absence of hair growth at all.
On average, these sessions can be done in four to six-week intervals. At Peace MD, we work with each patient to determine a customized plan that fits your needs and skin goals.
How Do I Prepare for Laser Hair Removal?
Some preparation is necessary for laser hair removal treatment.
Avoid Sun Exposure
Because laser treatment may leave scarring, burns, or hyperpigmentation on the skin after it's exposed to the sun or any kind of UV light rays, it’s best to avoid prolonged time in the sun or tanning before your laser treatment.
Shave 24 Hours Before
Waiting 24 hours before shaving your treated area will help the laser pick up just enough of the hair follicle to remove it. Hair that is too long or too short can make it difficult for the laser to identify the pigment and may interfere with treatment results.
Clean The Area
It’s important to arrive at your appointment free of makeup, skin oil, deodorant, or any lotions. While our highly-trained and well-experienced medical staff will sanitize the treatment area before your procedure, it helps to shower or bathe before your appointment to ensure the area is as clean as possible.
Recovery from Laser Hair Removal
Some redness, soreness or swelling may occur immediately after laser hair removal, but they almost always disappear within a few days. Cold compresses or ice packs, moisturizers, and anti-inflammatory creams may minimize discomfort. Sun exposure should be avoided as much as possible for some period of time.
Complications of Laser Hair Removal
The most common complication of laser hair removal is the regrowth of the unwanted hair. Frequently, however, the hair that regrows is finer and lighter than the hair that was removed. Usually, regrowth can be addressed with a few additional treatment sessions. Other complications that may arise after laser hair treatment include skin irritation such as blistering and crusting; changes in pigmentation or texture of the skin; and scarring at the removal site.