How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
As you were shaving in the shower this morning did you find yourself fantasizing about skipping that part of the process? Do your underarms get a 5 o’clock shadow? Do you wonder if laser hair removal even works? Read on to find out…
Basic Information On Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is one of the most commonly done cosmetic procedures in the United States. It’s been around since 1997 and thankfully it’s come a long way since its painful beginnings. It works by sending a concentrated beam of light energy into a targeted depth of the skin. Pigment in the hair pulls the energy in and destroys the hair follicle. It used to be a terribly painful experience when I began treating clients 14 years ago but newer technology in the last 7 years or so have made it much more comfortable. Laser companies have found that by chilling the laser tip or using suction you can significantly reduce the discomfort of laser hair removal. It’s still not completely painless but it’s so fast that the minor discomfort is no big deal.
Types of Laser Hair Removal Machines
There are primarily 2 types of laser hair removal machines currently being used. There is a Diode laser for hair removal which works at a specific depth to target the hair. There is also IPL lasers used for hair removal which have variable filters used for treating the hair. We actually have BOTH technologies available in our office. This is great news because we can address even resistant hair follicles. Additionally, with our Diode machine we can treat Hispanic, Indian and African Americans safely as well!
Best Candidates For Laser Hair Removal
If you are blond or have gone grey I’m sorry to tell you that there’s no laser that works well on you (and me) yet. Laser hair removal works well on dark, coarse hair and folks that fit that profile will get the best results.
More Information About The Treatment
In my office I find that most folks take an average of 6-8 treatments to be happy with their results. Generally speaking, you’ll begin seeing results from the first treatment. To keep the level of discomfort down, always shave the day before or the day of your appointment. After your treatment you generally have a 2-3 week break from shaving! Sometimes the hair falls out after lasering and sometimes it just grows back less, it depends on the person. You can have a little follicular reaction to the laser that looks like tiny bumps but it doesn’t last very long after the treatment. It is very, very important that you not have sun exposure before or immediately after your treatment. Being tan significantly increases your risk of burning from the laser or getting an ineffective treatment so lather on the sunscreen while you’re doing hair removal.
Timing Of The Laser
There is a wide variable in the time it takes to have your laser done. It can range from 5 min (lip lasering) to 45 min (back or leg lasering) and everything in between. As far as the time in between treatments, it can range from every 4 weeks (for the face) to 6 weeks (for underarm and bikini) to 8-10 weeks (for back and legs). It’s important to note that in the last 3-4 years they have changed the recommended timing for laser intervals, if your technician is doing your treatments closer than this together, they are not getting as much hair removed in each treatment. After you are finished with your treatments you may need a touch up every few years, some folks go as many as 8-10 years before they need one.
There is a wide variety of costs associated with laser hair removal, you can buy a cheap Groupon but quite frankly, they generally don’t produce great results and there’s a risk of having an uneducated technician. There are places that charge an exorbitant amount of money for hair removal (and it’s usually unnecessary that it be that expensive.) And then there are those who are in the middle of the pack (like my office). Just ask a lot of questions about technician experience and the machine being used. That’s the best way to judge if you will get a good result for your money. The price also varies dramatically based on the area being done; face, underarms and bikini are usually pretty reasonable in cost and backs, chests and legs are usually pretty expensive.
Does It Work?
If you have dark, coarse hair and light skin you will have AMAZING hair removal results. For those with blond or gray hairs mixed in or dark skin and dark hair you will be very happy still but will have a little bit of fine hair left behind. Occasionally, folks with hormone issues like PCOS or high testosterone will get results but will have to re-treat more frequently than others. But generally speaking, 95% of clients are beyond happy with their laser hair removal results so if it’s something that’s driving you crazy I recommend that you take the plunge!
Leave your Laser Hair Removal questions below and follow me on Twitter to continue learning about beauty and health issues.