Laser hair removal is a medical procedure that uses a laser machine that emits an intense, pulsating beam of light of a particular wavelength, targeted to specific areas to be treated, to remove unwanted hair.
During laser hair removal, a laser beam is directed through the skin to an individual hair follicle. The intense heat of the laser causes damage to the hair follicle, which can ideally lead to inhibition of future hair growth. Laser hair removal is most effective for people who have light skin and dark hair.
Although laser hair removal can effectively slow down the hair growth, it doesn’t guarantee permanent hair removal. It typically takes multiple laser hair removal treatments to provide an extended hair-free outcome. Periodic maintenance treatments might be needed as well.
Common treatment areas are legs, underarms, upper lip, chin and bikini line. However, it’s possible to treat unwanted hair in nearly any area of the body, except the eyelid or surrounding region.
Hair color and skin type influence the success of laser hair removal treatment. For example, laser hair removal is most effective for people who have light skin and dark hair because the laser beam targets the pigment (melanin) in the hair. However, advances in technology have made laser hair removal an option for people who have darker skin.
Laser hair removal isn’t generally effective for white, gray, red or blond hair because the laser can’t “see” the lighter hair. However, treatment options for lighter hair continue to be investigated.
If you’re tired of shaving, tweezing, or waxing to remove unwanted hair, laser hair removal may be an option worth considering.
Benefits of laser hair removal include Precision and speed. Lasers can selectively target dark, coarse hairs while leaving the surrounding skin undamaged. 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. Most patients have permanent hair loss after an average of three to seven sessions.
You might notice redness and swelling for the first few hours after laser hair removal.
To reduce any discomfort, apply ice to the treated area. If you have a skin reaction immediately after laser hair removal, the doctor might apply a steroid cream to the affected area.
After laser hair removal, avoid sun exposure, both natural sunlight and tanning beds, wearing a hat can help a lot. When your skin has healed, use sunscreen whenever you’re in the sun.
You might also prepare yourself for possible hair shedding in the first few days and weeks after treatment. This can sometimes be mistaken for hair re-growth.