You’re considering laser hair removal, but you have some questions.
How long does hair removal treatment last? Does it hurt? Is it really that much better than shaving and waxing? Is it done in your dermatologist’s office? How many sessions will it take? Once you do it, how long does laser hair removal actually last? Is it a permanent solution? Is it worth it?
All women can relate to the annoyance of frequently shaving and waxing everything from your underarms to your calves. And we could all live without irritants such as the razor rash that comes along with shaving or having to grow your hair long before a waxing treatment. But is laser hair removal really the answer?
Before you make your first treatment appointment, here’s what you should know.
How does laser hair removal work?
Laser hair removal is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a medical procedure that uses laser technology to remove unwanted hair.
A laser beam from a handheld laser goes through the skin and targets each individual hair follicle. The laser is set for your individual skin and hair type. Its concentrated heat damages the hair follicle and prevents it from growing hair again. Sometimes, depending on the type of laser being used, your doctor may apply a cooling gel to the skin before starting the therapy to make the treatment more comfortable. Some redness or swelling might follow treatment.
Laser hair removal works best on people who have light skin and dark hair because the laser beam targets the pigment in each hair. It can be less effective for white, gray, red or blonde hair, as it is generally too light for the laser to detect. “Because the laser targets the actual pigment of the hair, lighter-pigmented hair follicles may not absorb enough energy from the laser to destroy the follicle and prevent it from re-growing,” says Tori Burns, a physician assistant-certified with the Center for Aesthetic & Laser Medicine.
Though technological advances have been made to make laser hair removal effective on individuals with darker skin, results will vary and sometimes hyperpigmentation — a darkening of the skin — can occur.
How long does laser hair removal last?
Though laser hair removal will delay hair follicles from regrowing hair, the procedure rarely will stop hair from ever growing again. Regrowth in a treated hair follicle can occur.
Ultimately, results vary depending on your body and the area that is treated. Also, everyone’s hair goes through resting and growth cycles, which can affect results. Because not all hair is at the same point in the growth cycle at any given time, not all hair will be damaged by the laser. Therefore some follicles will continue to grow hair.
Many people require around six laser treatments — one every four to six weeks — for approximately 80% clearance. Additional periodic maintenance treatments are also recommended every six to 12 months for best results.
Small treatment areas require fewer pulses of light and take less time than larger treatment areas, which require hundreds of laser pulses.
Though laser hair removal is not generally painful, it can be uncomfortable. Most people describe the sensation as similar to being snapped repeatedly with a rubber band.
There are, however, some things you can do to prepare your skin beforehand to make your treatment sessions more comfortable and effective. For example, because lighter skin has better results, you should avoid any type of tanning or extensive sun exposure before treatment. This includes tanning beds, self-tanning lotions or spray tans.
“It is not recommended to do laser hair treatment if you have a suntan or a sunburn,” says Burns. “Most people choose to begin hair removal treatment in the fall, winter, or spring so that they are prepared for summer.”
Products and medications that add to the skin’s sensitivity should also be avoided. Following treatment, you should avoid sun exposure and swimming in salt water or chlorinated pools for several days.
Looking to Visit a Dermatologist for Laser Hair Removal?
Are you tired of shaving and waxing and interested in laser hair removal or other cosmetic dermatology procedures to enhance your appearance and restore your self-confidence? U.S. Dermatology Partners provides a wide range of minimally invasive treatments to help you look and feel your best, including laser skin resurfacing, dermal fillers, body contouring and more. We have multiple locations throughout the country, so fill out our simple online form to get in touch with us. One of our local team members will reach out to you shortly to answer your questions or schedule an appointment for you to visit us soon.
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