Hate shaving and waxing? Laser hair removal (LHR) permanently reduces hair growth so that shaving and waxing are no longer needed. This procedure involves a concentrated beam of light to stop hair growth on almost any area of the body.
How does it work? The pigment in the hair which is called melanin, absorbs the laser light emitted by the laser. This light is converted to heat, which damages the hair follicle which is responsible for growing hair. The damage caused by the laser beam slows or stops future hair growth. The best candidate for LHR has dark hair and lighter skin since the laser beam targets melanin. Only those with brown or black hair are candidates; however, LHR can be done on all skin types depending on the type of laser used. Keep in mind that those with darker skin or lighter hair will usually need more treatments than those with lighter skin and darker hair.
Multiple treatments are always needed to achieve desired results. They should be done every 4 to 12 weeks, depending on the area being treated. Once the desired result is achieved, treatments should be 1 to 3 times a year to maintain the results.
The most popular areas to treat for women are chin, lip, sideburns, underarms, areola, navel, bikini, brazilian, and legs. Popular areas for men are the back of the neck, chest, back, and abdomen. Besides the eyebrows and orbital area, any area can be treated with LHR; however, LHR cannot be done over tattoos.
After the treatment, there is a possibility of skin irritation, usually redness or swelling which lasts only a few hours. Rare, less common side effects include blistering, crusting, scarring.
- Medications that cause photosensitivity, including antibiotics and Accutane
- The use of retinol and glycolics in the treatment area
- Open wounds in the treatment area
- Tan or sunburn
The day before the treatment, the hair being treated should be clean-shaven. There is a risk of burning when the hair is long, and you also want all the energy of the laser beam to travel into the follicle rather than on top of the skin. Waxing should be avoided at least 4 weeks prior to the procedure, and should not be done at all in-between treatments. Shaving is permitted as much as you would like in-between sessions.
During the procedure, the patient will be given eye protectant goggles to prevent eye damage from the laser. To make the treatment more comfortable, a cooling gel is applied to the patient’s skin, or cold air is blown while the treatment is being performed. Some lasers have a cold tip that helps with patient comfort as well. Laser usually feels like a warm pinprick, but most of that sensation is numbed by the cold air, tip, or gel.
Treatment times can range from a few minutes to multiple hours depending on the size and number of areas being treated.
To reduce redness and swelling post-treatment, an icepack or aloe gel can be used. In-between treatments the patient should avoid direct sunlight in the area and always wear SPF when outdoors. Tanning beds should be completely avoided.
The hairs in the area treated will shed out over the next 10 to 14 days after the treatment. A new stage of hair growth while begin to grow a few weeks later.
Because of a multitude of factors, it is impossible to determine exactly how many treatments an individual will need to achieve their desired results. However, most patients need at least 6 treatments which is why many facilities sell LHR in packages of 6.
Interested in LHR? Schedule an appointment for a consultation to determine if you are a good candidate!
– Nikki Catania, LE