Laser Hair Removal 101: Everything You Need to Know

Posted by Dr. Patrick Proffer on November 26, 2019

Imagine this: you haven’t shaved in weeks, and yet your legs are as smooth as they were a month ago. There’s not a single razor bump or ingrown hair in sight. And, when you kiss your partner, you don't have to worry about prickling them with embarrassing upper lip hair.

Sounds pretty good, huh? 

This isn’t just a fantasy. With laser hair removal, this could be your life. Laser hair removal makes shaving a thing of the past, and it leaves you with soft, touchable skin.

Laser hair removal can be intimidating, but it’s a safe and effective way to bypass razors, shaving cream, and unsightly nicks and cuts of regular shaving.

In this article we’ll outline the basics of hair removal to help you decide if it’s the right solution for you.

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What Are The Benefits Of Laser Hair Removal?

Laser hair removal works by emitting pulses of highly-concentrated light directly into your hair follicles. The follicles then absorb the heat from that light, which destroys the hair.

As a non-surgical, non-invasive procedure to remove hair, it has many benefits:

  • Precision––It uses intense pulsed light (IPL), which accurately targets hair all the way down to the follicle.
  • Speed––Although the length of individual treatment will vary depending on how large of an area you are treating, you will see results within the first few weeks of your first treatment (not to mention all the time you’ll save by not having to shave or wax regularly, which will definitely speed up your morning routine).
  • Price––You may have to invest more upfront to get laser hair removal, but because you won’t spend as much on waxing, shaving cream, or razors, you’ll actually save in the long run.
  • No Painful Irritations––Once your treatments start taking effect, you’ll no longer have to deal with unsightly and painful ingrown hairs like you would with waxing. The same goes for razor burn. The treatment itself can cause slight discomfort at first, but that discomfort diminishes with each treatment (unlike with waxing).
  • It Works Anywhere––You can get laser hair removal done anywhere on your body: face, legs, back, underarms, bikini line, or anywhere else you have unwanted hair.

Who’s a Good Candidate for Laser Hair Removal?

Laser hair removal can work with almost anyone, but the ideal candidate will have:

  • Fair to light skin
  • Dark, coarse hair

For people with the following hair types, it’s less likely that laser hair treatment will be totally effective, and it may take extra treatments to see more permanent results:

  • Red hair
  • Blonde hair
  • Strawberry-blonde hair
  • White hair
  • Fine hair

Why isn’t laser hair removal equally effective for everyone?

In simple terms, this is because there’s not enough pigment in lighter hair to absorb the light from the laser. And if your follicles absorb an inadequate amount of light from the laser, then the heat from won’t destroy those targeted follicles.

Also, people with darker skin can still get treatment, but they may be more susceptible to darkening of their skin (otherwise known as hyperpigmentation) as a side effect. A good way to ensure excellent results for darker skin is to reduce the amount of energy used in the laser treatment and using longer light wavelengths.

How Long Do The Results Last?

Everyone’s results may vary, but most patients’ results last years, with many patients experiencing permanent hair loss.

Your hair will not fall out immediately. You will shed them over the course of several days or weeks. You can speed up that process by exfoliating the area or using a scrub, loofah, or washcloth.

Now, after your first treatment, it may look like nothing has happened, but it has. Hair loss and growth naturally occur in cycles, so laser hair removal specifically targets follicles in the new-growth stage. This is why you need repeated treatments: to continually target new hair.

What Do Treatments Feel Like?

Though they may be slightly uncomfortable, treatments are not painful. The discomfort of the intense heat from the laser feels similar to a warm pinprick, but the feeling is alleviated by cooling gel or the cooling mechanism built into the handheld hair removal device.

Aside from the cooling gel and built-in mechanism, there are a few ways to make your treatment even more comfortable:

  • Take a pain reliever thirty minutes before treatment.
  • Shave the area to be treated the night before.
  • Don’t drink alcohol 24 hours before treatment.
  • Avoid antibiotics, as they are photosensitive, which means they make your skin sensitive to light and lead to the treatment burning your skin.
  • Avoid sun exposure before treatment.

Treatment time varies. Treating your upper lip, for example, will only take a few minutes. Treating a larger area, such as your back, may take close to an hour––it all depends on the size of the space you're treating.

What Is The Recovery Time?

There are very few side effects of laser hair removal, but you must take certain precautions after the treatment to ensure your maximum comfort. You may notice some redness or swelling for the first few hours after treatment, but that usually goes away quickly.

You can apply ice to the treated area to ease any discomfort, or if you have a stronger reaction, your doctor can apply a steroid cream.

It’s also very important that you:

  • Avoid tanning beds and extended natural sunlight for six weeks after treatment (or as directed).
  • Use sunscreen daily.
  • Don’t go to the gym, using a sauna, or take hot showers for 24 hours after treatment.

And if you already have a tan, you’ll have to wait for it to fade before you seek treatment.

How Often Should I Get Laser Hair Removal?

One laser hair removal treatment will not do the trick. It will take 2-3 weeks after your first treatment to see any significant difference and roughly 6-8 treatments overall to get full results.

And as far as the spacing of those treatments, it varies from person to person, but in general:

  • Facial hair grows faster and needs to be treated every 4 weeks.
  • Leg hair grows slowly and may be done every 12 weeks.

Aside from those two unique treatment areas, 8 weeks between treatments is a good barometer.

You also have to be regular with your treatments so you’re able to target hair at different stages in their growth cycle.

You’ll notice that after you shed the hair from the previous treatment, the area will be smooth and hairless. Then, once you start noticing new hairs popping up from a new growth cycle, it’s time to get your next treatment.

Make Unwanted Hair A Thing Of The Past

Womans legs with pink backgroundLaser hair treatments are a great way to reduce hair, but it’s not a 100% permanent or magic solution. You’ll have to endure some short-term discomfort for your beauty, and you may have to get maintenance touch-ups after your initial treatments.

However, if you do want to cut down on how much shaving you have to do and reduce the number of ingrown hairs, it’s a great option to get closer to your naturally beautiful self.   

At Proffer Surgical Associates, we understand how frustrating it is to deal with unwanted hair. That's why we offer laser hair removal treatments tailored to your hair type, skin pigment, and treatment area to get the best results for you.

To learn more about laser hair removal, schedule a consultation today.

 

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Topics: Skin care, Laser Hair Removal, Waxing