Laser Hair Removal

There are various ways to remove unwanted hair – tweezing, threading, plucking, shaving, and waxing – but there’s only one way to reduce unwanted body hair more permanently – laser hair removal. Here’s everything you need to know about the procedure that can give you a stubble-free life.

What is Laser Hair Removal?

Laser hair removal is a cosmetic procedure in which a concentrated beam of light destroys hair follicles (the tube-like structures in the skin that produce the hair). Destroying the hair follicles stops or delays future hair growth.

The laser device emits a powerful beam of light that is absorbed by melanin (the pigment that gives hair its color). The light then gets converted to heat energy, which essentially burns away the hair follicle.

Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent?

The laser destroys hair follicles and effectively delays hair growth for a prolonged period. However, it does not completely prevent hair re-growth in the future. You can say that laser hair removal is somewhat permanent. It is certainly longer-lasting than other methods of hair removal such as shaving, waxing, plucking, tweezing, and threading.

It is impossible to predict the results of laser hair removal in a particular person, but most people experience several months to years of reduced or absent hair growth. If and when the hair grows back after laser hair removal, it is usually lighter in color and finer in texture. 

Can I Get Laser Hair Removal?

Laser hair removal can be performed on all types of skin, with a few exceptions. People with light skin and dark hair typically achieve the best results with laser hair removal. This is because when the skin is light-colored, and the hair is dark, the laser can easily differentiate between the skin pigment and the hair pigment and selectively destroy the hair follicle without damaging the skin.

Nonetheless, advances in laser technology have made it possible for people with darker skin to have laser hair removal quite effectively. Newer lasers are being developed for light-colored hair. 

On What Parts of the Body Can Laser Hair Removal Be Done?

Laser hair removal is used to remove unwanted body hair from locations like the arms, legs, armpits, back, chin, upper lip, and bikini line. Essentially, any part of the body can be treated with laser hair removal except the area surrounding the eye due to the risk of eye injury. Also, you cannot get laser hair removal done on skin with tattoos. 

Benefits of Laser Hair Removal

There are several advantages to undergoing laser hair removal, including:

  • Removal of hair from large areas of skin
  • Precise removal of coarse dark hair, leaving the surrounding skin undamaged
  • Quick treatment (the upper lip requires less than a minute of treatment; larger areas like the legs may take 45-60 minutes)

Considerations Before Your Consultation

 If you’ve decided you’d like permanent hair removal with laser treatments, choose a medical practice that specializes in aesthetic procedures.  Moreover, choose a practice that utilizes the latest innovation in laser hair removal technology.  There is a plethora of old devices and technology out in the market that don’t work well and hurt worse than the newer technology today.  At Pittman Plastic Surgery, we have invested in the Sciton laser platform, which is one of the leading companies in the world for laser and light energy devices.  We see this investment as maintaining our commitment to safe and effective outcomes for our patients.

Preparing for Laser Hair Removal

To ensure you are a good candidate for laser hair removal, our medical team will review your past medical history, past surgeries, and current medications. Certain blood-thinning medications like aspirin may need to be stopped temporarily before the laser treatment. Do not forget to tell your provider if you’ve had hair removal procedures before. We will take pre-treatment photos for comparison.

In preparation for your laser hair removal treatment, you should:

  • Stay out of the sun as much as possible, both before and after the laser hair treatment. If you go outdoors, do not forget to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, at least SPF30.
  • Avoid any tanning creams that darken the skin. Your doctor may prescribe a bleaching cream to get rid of a tan if you have one.
  • Stop using other hair removing methods (the hair follicle needs to be left alone for 4 weeks before laser hair removal). Your doctor may advise you to trim or shave on the day before the laser procedure to remove surface hair.

What to Expect During Laser Hair Removal

Here are some important things you should know about laser hair removal:

  • Laser hair removal generally requires at least 6 sessions for optimum results. You will start to notice a difference in hair growth 2-3 weeks after your first laser treatment.
  • The interval between laser treatments varies from 4-8 weeks for the upper lip, which has faster hair growth, to 12-16 weeks for the back, where hair growth is slower.
  • Hair follicles are in various stages of growth. You need to be regular with your appointments to make sure every hair follicle gets zapped.
  • Most advanced laser hair removal procedures are not a painful procedure. Most people describe it as a warm pinprick. However, we can use a numbing medicine or cooling device to reduce discomfort.
  • You’ll have to avoid the gym, hot showers, and saunas for about 24 hours after each laser treatment because the heat can make you break out. You’ll also have to avoid sun exposure as much as possible before and after your treatments.
  • Avoid scrubs, peels, and retinol creams for a few days before your laser hair removal session.
  • You may have to change your skincare regimen after laser hair removal as your skin can get a little dryer.
  • While you’re between laser treatments, you can’t pluck or wax your hair (basically any method which removes the hair from the root). Shaving is okay as it only cuts off the surface hair, leaving the root intact.
  • Hormonal fluctuations can cause your hair to re-grow after laser hair removal, in which case you might have to go back for a few more treatments.

Side Effects of Laser Hair Removal

Temporary skin irritation with minor redness and swelling are the most common side effects of laser hair removal. These symptoms usually go away in a few hours. Skin treated with a laser may become darker or lighter due to pigmentary changes, which can be temporary or permanent. You should avoid sun exposure before and after laser hair removal to reduce this risk. Very rarely, laser treatment can cause blistering, scarring, graying of hair, excessive hair growth in treated areas, or changes in skin texture.

Cost of Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal is a cosmetic procedure that is not usually covered by health insurance. It will, therefore, be an out-of-pocket expense. There are a variety of factors that will affect the cost of your laser hair removal treatment.  Factors such as the location of hair, thickness of hair, number of treatments, and a host of other factors will contribute to your final price for laser hair removal.  For a more detailed explanation of these factors, please read our Laser Hair Removal blog.