What is laser hair removal?
Laser hair removal is the safest, most effective method used to permanently remove unwanted hair. As one of the most commonly performed cosmetic procedures in the United States, laser hair removal is the process of a laser beaming highly concentrated light into hair follicles. Pigments in the follicles absorb the light and heat up to the point of singeing which then destroys the hair and the surrounding root disabling it from future hair growth.
Lasers have been in use for laser hair removal since 1997. Treatments are quick and easy, and lasers are safe. The heat energy from each laser pulse is optimized and specific so that the skin does not absorb it. Due to the fact that human hair grows in cycles, multiple treatments are required at intervals of a minimum of 8 weeks apart.
How does laser hair removal work?
Have you ever wondered how does laser hair removal work? Laser stands for Light Amplification through the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. True Lasers, or any class IV FDA approved lasers designed for permanent hair reduction emit wavelengths of light that are absorbed by the pigment of the hair also known as the melanin. Lasers can effectively destroy hair without damaging the surrounding skin because the hair shaft (hair itself) absorbs all of the laser energy. This is why treatments are most effective on coarse hair, coarse hair has a lot of pigment for the laser to target and can absorb a substantial amount of laser energy. Fine hair such as peach fuzz cannot absorb much heat and has less pigment. All Body Details True Laser devices release a cryogenic coolant spray during each pulse of the laser to minimize any discomfort from the heated hair.
Intense Pulse Light (IPL) machines are NOT lasers. These machines do not use a set wavelength of light and are not optimized for either skin type or any particular service. IPL devices lack a True Laser’s ability to produce a set, focused wavelength of light that will only affect the hair shaft known as selective photothermolysis. IPL devices produce a wide bandwidth of light that can heat up all of the surrounding tissue, making it less effective in disabling hair and putting the patient at a higher risk for burns, especially on darker skin.
IPL devices are generally cheaper than True Laser devices, which is why many clinics choose to use them. True Lasers achieve better and faster results than IPL devices.
Am I a candidate for laser hair removal?
For the vast majority of people the answer is YES! At Body Details we can treat women and men of all ethnicities and skin types. Lasers are attracted to pigment of the hair, so if you have white hair or very light blonde hair, that hair may not be treatable. However, it is best to schedule a free consultation to determine whether or not your hair is treatable. As a general rule; best results are seen by those with thick dark hair and light skin but True Laser technology is optimized for each individual’s unique skin type, and thereby offers safe and permanent results for virtually all skin tones and hair thicknesses with the exception of fine vellus hairs, aka Peach Fuzz.
Laser hair removal is most commonly performed on the underarms, legs, bikini area, upper lip, chin, abdomen, back, buttocks, thighs, neck, chest, and arms
How many laser hair removal treatments will I need and how far apart are they scheduled?
- Most patients need between 5 and 10 effective treatments spaced a minimum of 8 weeks apart. Because hair grows in cycles, several sessions are necessary in order to affect all hair on any given area. Treatments are scheduled based on the average length of hair growth cycles, usually once every 8-10 weeks. Hair cycle length varies depending on the body part. The face usually has a shorter treatment cycle and therefore more frequent treatments (about 8 weeks apart) whereas legs and back need less frequent treatments (closer to 10-12 weeks apart).
- All of the treated hair should be expected to shed out within 3 weeks of each treatment. During the shedding phase, hair may look like it’s growing, but it is actually shedding out. Exfoliating and/or scrubbing gently in the shower with a loofa can help speed up the shedding process. In rare cases, hair that doesn’t shed and is growing as usual after 3 weeks may not have been in the growth phase at the time of treatment and therefore have not been affected during the treatment. In any case, please inform your True Laser specialist at the time of your next treatment of any areas of hair that you feel were not affected so that they can adjust the settings if necessary.
- All 5 to 10 treatments should be good effective treatments at aggressive settings in order to achieve permanent results. Once the hair sheds; you will experience a hair-free period for several weeks. Once new hair comes in again, usually within the 8-10 week interval, you should come in for your next session.
How long does each treatment session take?
Each pulse of the laser takes a fraction of a second and can treat many hairs at the same time. The laser can treat an area approximately the size of a quarter every second. Small areas such as the upper lip can be treated in less than a minute, and large areas, such as the back or legs, may take up to an hour.
How do I prepare for laser hair removal treatments?
Laser hair removal is more than just “zapping” unwanted hair. It is a medical procedure that requires training and experience to provide optimum results. Body Details has treated thousands of patients since we opened in March of 2006 and we are experts at the services we provide.
When planning to undergo laser hair removal treatment, you should stop plucking, waxing for six weeks before treatment. True Lasers target the hairs’ roots, which are temporarily removed by waxing or plucking and will thereby render treatment ineffective. You may shave as often as you’d like leading up to your treatment date.
You should also avoid sun exposure in the treatment area for six weeks before and after treatment whenever possible. Sun exposure makes laser hair removal less effective and makes complications after treatment more likely. You know your body best, avoid scheduling treatments until you have cycled through any tan you may have previously received.
What happens after laser hair removal treatment?
For a day or two afterward, the treated area of your skin will look and feel like it’s sunburned. Cool compresses and moisturizers may help.
Over the next month, your treated hair will fall out. Wear sunscreen for the following month to help prevent temporary changes in the color of the treated skin.
Is laser hair removal painful?
Generally, laser hair removal is far less painful than waxing, though the sensation is different. Patients describe the feeling of each laser pulse as that of a rubber band snapping against the skin for a quick second. Pain is only felt briefly while the laser is hitting the skin. Since each laser pulse effectively destroys all the hair in a given area of roughly the size of a quarter, the treatments are fast. Most people do not require an anesthetic cream, though one can be prescribed to more sensitive patients if requested.
Are there any laser hair removal risks or side effects?
Some people may experience the following potential temporary side effects:
- Redness for up to 3 days
- Swelling around mouth of follicle for up to 3 days
- Tingling or feeling of numbness
The following rare side effects are indicative of inappropriate laser type and/or failed adherence to the pre and post treatment instructions:
- Micro-crusting/scab formation
- Purpura (purple coloring of the skin)
- Temporary pigment change (hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation)
What if I just want less hair in an area?
It is possible to just reduce the amount of hair in an area. Simply purchase a package for the area you would like to thin out and receive successive treatments until you are happy with the amount of remaining hair. Patients should continue treatments until remaining hairs are too fine for laser to target, or until they’ve reached their desired level of reduction.
What if I have excessive hair growth?
While the vast majority of patients achieve outstanding results from laser hair removal, people with excessive hair growth particularly in unusual areas may want to explore any possible underlying medical conditions prior to receiving laser hair removal. Men may experience excessive growth due to undiagnosed insulin resistance whereas women with male-pattern facial hair may want to see an endocrinologist to rule out any possibility of PCOS, Hirsutism, or elevated testosterone levels.
Laser hair removal can only destroy hair that’s currently growing. For example, Body Details may treat an area and effectively destroy all of the hair that was growing at the time of treatment, yet a patient may grow new hair (though this is usually just a few strands) due to hormonal changes that trigger new growth from previously dormant follicles such as pregnancy and menopause. Laser hair removal does not stop your body from developing new hair from dormant follicles due to medical conditions after treatments are completed.
The following are potential causes of excessive hair growth:
- Glandular and/or hormonal imbalances
- Insulin resistance
- Thyroid problems
- Reactions to certain medications
- Steroid use
Most people, even with a medical condition, are treatable and achieve great results permanently removing their unwanted body hair. Diagnosing a medical condition prior to treatment will help Body Details to treat you more effectively and better explain to you what to expect before, during, and after treatment. When in doubt, please schedule a free consultation and one of our laser experts will be able to better discuss your concerns and any conditions that may bar you from treatment.