If you're not happy with shaving, tweezing, or waxing to remove unwanted hair, laser hair removal may be an option worth considering. Lasers remove hair giving long-lasting results. In only a few sittings (six to eight sessions) we can clear your skin of unwanted hair that has bothered you for so long. Waxing, shaving, depilatory creams, plucking/tweezing provide only temporary results — some for fewer than 24 hours. To make it worse, these methods can often stimulate hair growth!
Laser hair removal is one of the most commonly done cosmetic procedures. During laser hair removal, a laser beam an intense, pulsating beam of light - passes through the skin to an individual hair follicle. The intense heat of the laser damages the hair follicle— without damaging the surrounding skin. Laser hair removal is most effective for people who have light skin and dark hair. Although laser hair removal effectively slows hair growth, it doesn't guarantee permanent hair removal. It typically takes several laser hair removal sessions to provide an extended hair-free period. Periodic maintenance treatments might be needed as well.
Why it's done
Laser hair removal is used to remove unwanted hair. Common treatment locations include upper lip, chin, cheeks, armpits, legs and bikini line. However, it's possible to treat unwanted hair in nearly any area — except the eyelid or surrounding area. Hair color and skin type influence the success of laser hair removal. 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. Laser hair removal isn't generally effective for white, gray, red or blond hair — although treatment options for lighter hair continue to be investigated.
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.
The most common side effects of laser hair removal include:
- Skin irritation. Temporary discomfort, redness and swelling are possible after laser hair removal. Any signs and symptoms typically disappear within several hours.
- Pigment changes. Laser hair removal might darken or lighten the affected skin, usually temporarily. Skin lightening primarily affects those who have darker skin, especially if an incorrect laser is used at an incorrect setting.
Rarely, laser hair removal can cause blistering, crusting, scarring or other changes in skin texture.
How you prepare
If you're interested in laser hair removal, choose a board certified cosmetic surgeon who has experience in laser hair removal. Be cautious about spas, salons or other facilities that allow nonmedical personnel to do laser hair removal.
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. Before laser hair removal, the hair in the treatment area might be trimmed to a few millimeters above the skin surface. You might also be fitted with special goggles to protect your eyes from the laser beam. The doctor might apply a topical anesthetic to your skin to reduce any discomfort during treatment. Just before the procedure, your hair that will be undergoing treatment will be trimmed. The laser equipment will be adjusted according to the color, thickness, and location of your hair being treated as well as your skin color.
During the procedure
When the doctor activates the laser, the laser beam will pass through your skin to the tiny sacs (follicles) where hair growth originates. The intense heat from the laser beam damages the hair follicles, which inhibits hair growth. Some discomfort in the skin is possible. Treating a small area, such as the upper lip, might take only a few minutes. Treating a larger area, such as the back, might take several hours.
After the procedure
For a day or two afterward, you might notice redness and swelling over the treated area of your skin. Cool compresses and moisturizers may help. If your face was treated, you can wear makeup the next day unless your skin is blistering. Your doctor might also suggest an aloe gel or other type of cream or lotion, as well as pain relievers. If you have a skin reaction immediately after laser hair removal, the doctor might apply a steroid cream to the affected area.
Over the next month, your treated hair will fall out. Wear sunscreen for the following month to help prevent temporary changes in the color of the treated skin. Blisters are rare but are more likely in people with darker complexions. Other potential side effects are swelling, redness, and scarring. Permanent scarring or changes in skin color are rare.
Results of laser hair removal vary greatly from person to person. Multiple treatments can prolong the duration of hair loss — up to years in some cases — but hair regrowth is still possible. For best results, you might need 5-8 sessions spaced a number of weeks apart. Additional periodic maintenance treatments — perhaps once every six to 12 months — might be needed as well.
Why multiple sessions are required?
Each of your hair follicles goes through different growth phases at different times. Since the laser’s beam is attracted to the pigment in your hair, it only works when your hair is in the ‘active’ growth phase. When hair is in the dormant phase, it has little or no pigment, and it cannot absorb the laser light. When you come for your treatment, we disable all of the hair follicles with actively growing hair in the treatment area. Any follicle that does not contain hair (whether from waxing, plucking, or hair is in a different growth phase) will not be destroyed. A few weeks later, some of your dormant hairs will have moved into the actively growing stage, and you will come in for a treatment to disable those. As this cycle gets repeated, you experience increasing reduction of hair.