Laser hair removal is most commonly used for unwanted facial hair, armpits, bikini area, legs, and forearms. With that being said, virtually any area can be treated. It is often the preferred method of hair removal now due to being safe, effective, and more permanent than any other method such as waxing, plucking, and shaving. Prices are also pretty reasonable if you consider how much it is to wax monthly and the general convenience it provides. The easiest person to treat for laser hair removal has darker hair on lighter skin. But there are now lasers (the Nd:YAG) that do a good job with dark hair on dark skin.
The most common treatments are on light skin with darker hair, but unlike many other lasers our new Aerolase Nd:YAG laser does work for dark skinned individuals as well. It still does not work well for gray hair, fine blond hair, and some tones of red hair. Why is that?
How does laser hair removal work?
The laser emits a very specific beam of light at a wavelength that is targeted at melanin in the hair and hair follicle. Melanin is the material that gives color to our hair – hence why it doesn’t work on blonde or gray hairs (the hair needs color to absorb the laser light). The laser beam passes through the skin and is absorbed by the melanin in the hair and hair follicle.
Why do I need a series of treatments?
At any given time, a certain amount of hairs are in the "resting" phase rather than a “growth” phase. The resting phase can last up to 3 months. The laser will not be effective on those resting hairs, which is why it is recommended to have at least 4 treatments 1 month apart. To achieve maximum results, some individuals will need anywhere from 4-6 treatments in order to reach all hairs in their various growth phases. Parts of the body will also respond differently, with some areas seeing results more rapidly while others take longer to notice. For example, the face usually responds more slowly than the bikini line.
How much does laser hair removal cost?
Depending on the area, a single treatment can cost around $50 (navel)-$275 (full back). As mentioned above, it is recommended to have 4-6 treatments. With us, if you buy 5 treatments upfront, you get the 6th free!
Do the treatments hurt, and how long will they take?
There may be mild discomfort during the treatment, but most patients tolerate laser hair removal very well. This is laser dependent as well as dependent on the area of hair removal. With our new Aerolase LightPod Neo, treatments are some of the most comfortable you will find on the market today. For discomfort during your treatment, most places will have a cooling roller available to minimize the pain or warmth. Treatments can take from minutes to hours depending on the size of the treatment area.
How many treatments will I need?
After the initial 4-6 treatments, most people report that their expectations have been met and the hair growth pattern is much less or nonexistent. There is typically a general decrease in the number of hairs, and remaining hairs become very fine and light in color.
Wherever you choose to go, no one should claim that all of the hairs will be permanently gone for life. Most patients will need a “touch-up” 1-3 times a year (not a full 4-6 treatment session) to maintain the improvement.
Unfortunately, about 5% of people are resistant to any type of laser hair removal. It is very important to have realistic expectations. As mentioned, no hair-removal system anywhere is "permanent."
Do I need to do anything special before being treated?
Here are some general guidelines common to many laser hair removal treatments:
1. No plucking, waxing, bleaching etc should be performed at least two weeks prior to treatment. The hair must be present (a short stubble) and with its natural hair color in order to be treated effectively.
2. Shaving is fine up until a few days before your treatment (remember short stubble).
3. All makeup and lotion should be removed prior to treatment.
4. If any new medications have been started, inform your provider prior to treatment.
What are the side effects?
Here are some possible side effects (please speak to the laser center about specifics – they vary based on laser):
1. Pain. Some people feel discomfort during the treatment. There may be a burning sensation, which lasts for an hour or two. As mentioned, our laser has one of the most comfortable treatment experience on the market.
2. Healing. There is always a slight possibility of developing a crust or blister. This is superficial and generally does not result in any scarring and is treated like a sunburn or any other superficial blister. Scarring is very rare and it is important to follow all the post- treatment instructions carefully. Bruising is also rare but possible.
3. Pigment changes. The treated area will probably heal without any pigment changes; however, there is always a chance that darker or lighter areas may occur. These are usually temporary and will fade within 1-6 months. It is rare that a change is permanent.
4. Swelling may occur immediately after treatment. This is temporary and not harmful.
Long blog this week, but I hope it is a one-stop shop for general information to decide whether or not laser hair removal is something that may work for you. Our laser services are performed with the Aerolase LightPod Neo, which uses the breakthrough 650 microsecond-pulse technology. The new pulse length enables the laser to deliver energy into hair and follicles with minimal absorption by the skin, leading to decreased treatment pain as well as decreased side effects of previous lasers. The LightPod laser hand piece also does not contact the skin during treatments, so patients are very pleased with the safe, sanitary and non-invasive treatment. If safe yet effective laser hair removal is something you are interested in, we offer free consultations for your skin care needs.