A Beginner’s Guide to Laser Hair Removal
Most cosmetic treatments are done to address an aesthetic concern that won’t respond to your at-home remedies. These often include wrinkles, stubborn fat, age spots, etc. Laser hair removal does this too, but it also has the added perk of convenience. It removes the hair you don’t want (from nearly any area of the body) but it does it with long-term results to save you the time, expense, side effects, and hassle of shaving, waxing, sugaring, or other short-term methods. Laser hair removal is a popular choice among many age brackets, but if it’s new to you, this handy beginner’s guide from our staff at Laser Lights Cosmetic Laser Center can help you know what to expect.
The Basics of Laser Hair Removal
The goal of laser hair removal is to impact the hair follicles so they don’t produce hair anymore. The light in a laser beam is attracted to color like the pigment in your hair. The pigment in your hair draws in the laser light and pulls it down into the hair follicle, which allows the light to hinder or stop that follicle from growing hair in the future. Your hair grows in three stages (growth, resting, and shedding), with each hair going through this cycle at its own rate. Laser hair removal only works for hairs in the growth phase, so it typically takes three to eight sessions to treat each hair follicle at the right time.
Your laser hair removal experience will vary based on your hair and skin color, hair thickness, hormone levels, gender, ethnicity, age, and more. Laser hair removal used to be available only to people with light skin and dark hair, so that the light was solely attracted to the hair. While these people still tend to get the best results, advances in technology now allow patients with darker skin to enjoy safe and successful laser hair removal as well. However, people with very light hair (like light blond, gray, and white) do not respond to the treatment.
Choosing a Laser Hair Removal Provider
If you’re considering laser hair removal, it’s important to find the right treatment provider. It may be a nonsurgical treatment, but it’s a true medical procedure with risks. Plus, it’s not an inexpensive purchase so you want your results to be worth the investment. For these reasons, you should look for laser hair removal that’s performed by a qualified professional like an experienced, licensed medical aesthetician. At Laser Lights, we’re also a proud member of the esteemed American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery.
Preparing for Laser Hair Removal
Once you’ve chosen your laser hair removal provider, you should schedule a skin treatment consultation. At Laser Lights, we offer these consultations for free, and it gives you an opportunity to find out if you’re a candidate for the procedure, get acquainted with us, and ask any questions you may have. If you’re concerned about possible pigmentation issues from your laser treatment, you may also consider requesting a test spot to be done at your consultation to see how your skin reacts.
You’ll also receive instructions about how to prepare for the treatment, including the following:
- Protect your skin from the sun for six weeks before the treatment by wearing sunscreen (broad-spectrum, SPF 30 or higher) every day on the treatment area and staying out of the sun as much as possible. You’ll need to do this for six weeks after your treatments as well, so find a sunscreen you can use on a daily basis.
- For two weeks before your treatment, avoid waxing, plucking, threading, and anything else that pulls out the root of the hair.
- Come to each treatment with the area cleanly shaven.
- Most of our patients don’t need numbing cream, but some areas of the body are more sensitive than others. If you’re interested in numbing cream, ask us about this at your consultation so you can purchase the cream ahead of time. It takes 30-60 minutes for thorough numbing, so you’ll want to apply it before you come in for your treatment.
What to Expect During Laser Hair Removal
When you come in for your first session, our licensed medical aesthetician will cleanse the treatment area and you’ll be given specialty glasses to protect your eyes from the laser. Our aesthetician will typically start with a test spot to see how your skin responds to certain settings on the laser. He/she may adjust the laser settings as necessary, but when they’ve found the ideal settings for you, they’ll give you pulses of the laser spot by spot. Each spot is the size of a quarter, and each zap only takes a second, so most areas are rather brief depending on the size of the treatment area and how much hair you have remaining. Areas like the full legs and the back will take longer. There is minimal discomfort involved, with most patients comparing it to warm pinpricks or the snap of a rubber band. After treating the entire area, our aesthetician will apply a cooling cream to keep your skin comfortable.
After Laser Hair Removal
One of the great features of laser hair removal is the lack of downtime. You will probably have some redness and your treated skin may feel sunburned, but it’s generally mild enough that you can go back to work or your other activities immediately. These symptoms should fade within a few hours to a few days. You will, however, need to prevent exposing the treated area to the sun for six weeks after your treatment, and you should also avoid hot tubs and excessively hot baths and showers for three or four days.
You might notice a 10-25% hair reduction after your first treatment, with a greater reduction after each future treatment. After three to eight sessions, most patients enjoy months or even years with little or no hair growth. The hair that does grow back tends to be finer, and it can be addressed with a follow-up treatment every year or so.
For many of our patients, laser hair removal is their first experience with laser skin treatments. It can be daunting, but take it from our patients and staff (many of whom are patients themselves): it’s a great way to dip your toes in the pool with a more mild yet successful procedure. If you’re ready to find out more, schedule a free consultation with our knowledgeable and licensed aestheticians. To keep up with our other skin care tips, current special offers, upcoming events, and more, follow Laser Lights Cosmetic Laser Center on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.