If you are tired of tweezing, shaving, or waxing, you may want to consider laser hair removal. Laser hair removal is a popular method of hair removal that uses the advanced technology of lasers to get rid of unwanted body and facial hair with long-lasting results.
The treatment sessions are not only relatively fast and painless, but the hair removal is more permanent than with tweezing, shaving, or waxing. The laser treatments do not cause bumps and ingrown hairs like shaving, are not nearly as painful as waxing, nor are they as time consuming as electrolysis.
Laser hair removal, with it’s many benefits and permanent results, is one of the most popular non-surgical cosmetic procedures for both men and women. Patient Criteria The best results are typically seen in patients who have dark hair and light skin, which allows the laser to pass through the skin and target the melanin (pigment) in the hair follicle.
Laser hair treatments are not as effective on light colored hair (blonde, red, white, gray) or as safe on tan or dark skin. The higher melanin levels in tan and dark skin make it more difficult to treat since the laser does not have a clear target. Tanning should be avoided before undergoing a laser session.
For patients with dark skin, it may still be possible to get positive results, but it is important to choose a technician who is experienced in treating dark skin and uses the appropriate type of laser in order to prevent burning the skin. Treatment Areas Almost any area of the body that has hair can undergo laser hair removal treatments.
One of the only areas that is not commonly treated is the eye (eyebrow) area, although it may be performed if protective eye shields are worn. Laser hair removal is commonly used on almost any area of the body, including the face (upper lip, chin, cheeks, ears), neck, back, chest, armpits, legs, and genital (bikini) area.
How Laser Hair Removal Works Laser hair removal works by targeting the melanin (pigment) in the hair follicle.When the laser is pulsed (turned on for a millisecond), a beam of light is emitted onto the skin. The light energy passes through the skin and gets absorbed by the pigment in the hair follicle. The laser energy is transformed into heat which disables the hair follicle and impairs it’s ability to grow, but only if the hair follicle is in the active growth stage.
Since not all hair follicles are in the growth stage at the same time, multiple treatment sessions are needed to get optimal results. How Many Sessions Are Need Most patients need from three to six sessions per treatment area, but up to eight sessions may be necessary for maximum results depending on the patient and the treatment area.
Skin tone, hair coloring, and coarseness of hair can all affect how many treatments will be needed. Treatments are usually scheduled about six to eight weeks apart, or when new hair growth is noticed.
Treatment Time Per Session The treatment time depends on the size of the area being treated, the size of the laser spot, and the speed of the technician. On average, a small area such as the upper lip takes only a few minutes, while larger areas such as the back or legs can take up to an hour or more per session.
What to Expect Treatments may cause some mild discomfort, but are relatively pain free. The feeling of a pulse is often compared to the snap of a rubber band. Sensitivity can vary between body areas and patients. To lessen discomfort, a topical anesthetic can be applied prior to treatment. Within 30 minutes of treatment, the treated skin may become pink or red, similar to a mild sunburn.
It may take a day or so to heal, and if necessary, the doctor may prescribe a topical cream to aid recovery. The laser does not damage the skin and bandages are not necessary. The skin should be treated with care after treatment. Avoid Retin-A, alphahydroxy acids, glycolic acids, astringents, and tanning.
Do use sunscreen on any treated areas that will be exposed to the sun and use mild soap and water when cleaning. Within three to ten days after treatment, treated hairs under the skin will surface from the follicle and fall out. A loofah may be used to help remove the hair as it falls out.
While it is okay to shave between treatment sessions, do not wax, pluck, or bleach.
Types of Lasers All lasers for hair removal use red or infrared (invisible) light, which have a longer wavelength that can pass through the skin deeply enough to reach the hair follicle. Not all lasers are the same, however, and the choice of laser can affect treatment.
They come in various types, with differing spot sizes, repetition rates, and wavelengths of light. Some lasers use a cooling device and some do not. The primary lasers used in hair removal are the Ruby Laser, Alexandrite Laser, Diode Laser, and nd:Yag Laser.
Ruby Laser Original hair removal laser, has become less popular in recent years Shorter wavelength and deep red color is highly absorbed by melanin Effective on fine and light hair Should not be used on patients with dark or tan skin Small spot size, slow repetition rate, high power constitutionalism Laser One of the most widely used lasers for hair removal Shorter wavelength that produces a reddish light just within the limit of visibility Effective on fine and light hair Suitable for patients with light to olive skin Large spot size, high repetition rate Fastest hair removal laser, allows for rapid treatment of large body areas Diode Laser One of the most widely used lasers for hair removal Longer wavelength that emits an infrared (invisible) light Safe for darker skin Large spot size, fast repetition rate Treats large body areas rapidity: Yag Laser One of the newest hair removal lasers Longer wavelength of infrared light penetrates deeper into skin and is less well absorbed by melanin Safe for all skin types, including dark and tan skin Less effective on lighter and finer hair Can cause more discomfort than other lasers Large spot sizes and fast repetition rates Can treat large body areas rapidly IPL Systems Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Systems are not lasers Can remove hair, but not as effective as most lasers Lower treatment cost due to lower equipment cost and lower labor costs (can be performed by non-physicians)Overall cost higher for equivalent amount of hair reduction compared to laser treatment Choosing a Laser Hair Removal Doctor When looking for a laser hair removal provider, it is better to choose one that offers appropriate doctor supervision, and not one that offers the cheapest prices.
Many laser hair removal centers operate without appropriate medical supervision, which is not the safest environment for a laser procedure. Laser hair removal is a medical procedure, not a spa treatment, and should only be performed by skilled and trained medical professionals. To maximize safety and results, make sure that there is a board-certified physician on site.
Consultation and Spot Tests Before laser hair removal treatment is performed, it is necessary to schedule a consultation visit with the laser hair provider. The consultation visit allows the patient to discuss a personalized treatment plan, get a price quote, and find out what to expect with treatment.
When given a price quote, find out if it includes all expected costs or if there are any additional costs which may be billed separately. The patient should also be able to meet the technician and experience a pulse or two before committing to a treatment.
Cost of Laser Hair Removal The average laser session costs $388 (according to the American Association for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery), but the prices vary for each situation. Treatment costs may range from $75 per session for a small area up to $1000 per session for a large area. While a series of sessions for the bikini area may cost $900, the total for a mans back could cost $5000. The total cost will vary from patient to patient, based on the size of the treatment area, skin color, hair color, hair thickness, amount of treatment sessions.
The skill and training of the technician as well as the geographic location will also affect the total cost of laser hair treatment. Pricing structures can vary by laser hair providers, either by flat fee, fee by time, or fee per pulse, but the total cost usually ends up being about the same. An established and reputable laser hair removal will usually have set prices, and not offer discounts or insist that you pay for multiple treatments up front.
Even though multiple sessions are necessary for permanent hair reduction, a reputable laser hair removal provider will allow you to pay for treatment as you go. Although a laser hair removal treatment may cost more than other hair removal options upfront, over time it becomes more cost and time efficient due to it’s longer lasting results.
Results Laser hair removal will result in permanent hair reduction with multiple sessions. After six months of treatment, most people can expect from 60 to 95 percent of the treated hair to be permanently gone. In some cases when the hair is not completely gone, the hair follicle may instead be producing small, fine hair (“peach fuzz”) which is not very noticeable.