Laser Hair Removal
What is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal is a cosmetic procedure used to remove unwanted body hair with pulsed laser energy. This procedure removes hair from the targeted area while leaving the surrounding skin unharmed.
While there are many temporary treatments to remove unwanted hair such as tweezing, shaving, using depilatory creams and waxing, patients seeking more permanent, less irritating, or less painful methods are frequently very pleased with laser hair removal.
HAIR REMOVAL TREATMENT AREAS
Areas targeted are typically vary depending on the gender of the patient. Through this, safe and painless procedure patients can enjoy long-term hair removal from nearly any area of the body. However, this treatment cannot be performed on the eyes since there is a possibility of serious eye damage. Common areas on which laser hair removal is performed are the
- Upper lip
- Bikini line
Candidates for Laser Hair Removal
Individuals whose excessive hair growth in a particular region of the body is bothersome are candidates for laser hair removal. Excessive hair growth may be the result of heredity, medication or diseases, or hormonal changes during puberty, menopause or pregnancy. Whatever the cause of the condition, laser therapy may be an effective solution.
The success of laser hair removal is affected by hair color and skin type because the laser beams target the melanin, or pigment, in the hair. The most effective results usually occur in individuals with dark hair and light skin. Recent technological advances have made laser hair removal for dark-skinned individuals more successful, while procedures to effectively remove light-colored hair with lasers are presently under investigation.
Laser Hair Removal Benefits
There are many benefits to having unwanted hair removed through the use of laser therapy. Among these are that laser hair therapy is:
- Precise, targeting of hairs for immediate removal
- Quick, removing hair in only minutes
- Long-lasting, showing permanent results for 90 percent of patients
Before & After Laser Hair Removal
Laser Hair Removal Procedure
Before the laser hair removal process begins the targeted area is numbed by a topical anesthetic. For many patients, laser hair removal is painless but some individuals experience minimal discomfort. Then, a handheld device that emits intense laser pulses is moved across the region, focusing on individual hair follicles. An appropriate hair removal plan is created on an individual basis during your consultation with Dr. Evans.
Hair growth takes place cyclically in three stages. The most effective laser hair removal takes place during the androgen, or full-growth stage, because the follicles are most susceptible to the laser energy. Because all of the hair is not in the same stage of growth at any given time, several laser treatments, often 5 or more spaced 4-6 weeks apart, are necessary. To some extent, the length of necessary treatment will depend on the location and texture of the patient's hair.
Is laser hair removal permanent?
It is best to describe the results of laser hair removal as a semi-permanent. Most patients experience about 90% reduction in hair growth from their treatments, which is sufficient to eliminate the need for shaving. The decrease in hair is long lasting and can be maintained with touch up treatments as needed. When hair does grow back after laser hair removal, it is usually finer, lighter, and much less in terms of the number of hairs in the treated area.
How many treatments are required for full removal of all hair?
Laser hair removal involves a meticulous process in which timing is paramount to optimal results. Most physicians and clinics that perform this treatment advocate for at least six laser sessions scheduled between four and six weeks apart. Scheduling treatments too far apart could mean missing entire growth cycles, which could mean future hair growth.
The goal of laser hair removal is to achieve semi-permanent results that eliminate the need to shave, wax, and pluck. The starting point to accomplish this is six sessions. Some areas of the body may require more sessions than others. We are familiar with the typical hair growth cycles present on various parts of the body. For example, the hair growth cycle (active and resting phases) may complete within five months in the armpit area. The same cycle on the legs may take up to 12 months.
In addition to the average growth cycle for hair on particular parts of the face and body, laser hair removal sessions may be somewhat determined by hormones. The chin and the upper lip are prime areas in which hormones have an effect on the speed of hair growth, as well as the coarseness and density of hair.
Are there any alternatives to Laser Hair Removal?
Most alternatives to laser hair removal achieve only temporary results. The one exception is electrolysis. Like laser hair removal, electrolysis disables hair follicles if performed correctly (professionally versus home electrolysis machines). While this may be the best alternative for some people, such as those with light hair or dark skin, electrolysis does require more treatment sessions than laser hair removal so tends to be more costly in the long run.
Can I combine laser hair removal with other skin treatments?
Patients of our San Francisco and Corte Madera offices may schedule certain skin treatments, such as dermal fillers, Botox, and other medical or rejuvenating therapies to coincide with laser hair removal if those procedures are not conducted on the same skin treated with laser.
Recovery from Laser Hair Removal
Some redness, soreness or swelling may occur immediately after a laser hair removal treatment, but these symptoms almost always disappear within a few days. Dr. Evans recommends cold compresses, moisturizers, and anti-inflammatory creams to minimize discomfort. For some period of time after treatment is complete patients should avoid sun exposure as much as possible.
Will I need to limit sun exposure before or after laser hair removal treatment?
It is advisable to curb tanning of all kinds before and during the laser hair removal process. A greater contrast between hair color and skin color is ideal for the best possible results, and tanned skin closes that gap. After a laser hair removal treatment, sun exposure can cause unnecessary irritation to the skin and may downgrade the results of the next procedure. Once the recommended series of treatments is completed, and the skin has had a few days to recover from the effects of intense light, it may be possible to be in the sun. However, we encourage our patients to always wear sunscreen to minimize premature aging and skin cancer risk.
Laser Hair Removal side effects
Although laser hair removal is considered a safe procedure, any type of medical procedure involves some risk of complication. The most common side effect of laser hair removal is a regrowth of unwanted hair since some hair is resistant to laser treatment. Frequently, however, the hair that regrows after treatment is finer and lighter than the hair that has been removed. Most often, the problem of regrowth can be overcome with a few additional treatment sessions. Other complications that may arise after laser hair treatment include:
- Temporary skin irritation, such as blistering or crusting
- Changes in pigmentation or texture of the skin
- Scarring at the site (very rare)
Individual results may vary on case by case basis*