If you’re an adult, you’ve likely given some thought to laser hair removal. How does it work, does it actually work and is it right for me? Yes, professional laser hair removal works and it is truly a “game changer”!
If you’ve been on the fence about zapping that unwanted body hair, we’re here to give you some motivation. Imagine being able to ditch your razor, possibly for good, and reclaim the time you spend shaving most mornings. Summer is on the way and that usually means we’re showing more skin, so let’s talk about it!
What is it
Laser hair removal is a medical procedure that uses a concentrated beam of light (laser) to reduce the number and thickness of unwanted hair.
During the procedure, a laser emits a light that is absorbed by the melanin in the hair.
The light energy is converted to heat, which damages the hair follicles deep within the skin that produce hairs. This damage inhibits or delays future hair growth.
Laser hair removal can be performed on all body areas with the right patient selection. Areas eligible for laser hair removal treatment include the face, sideburns, ears (yes guys!), underarms, legs, bikini, neck, unibrow, back, abdomen, breasts, and buttocks.
Why do it
The benefit of laser hair removal over older methods like shaving, plucking, and waxing is that it reduces bumps, irritation, ingrown hairs, and blemishes. Undergoing laser hair removal reduces the time you need to spend grooming with razors, depilatories, waxing, and plucking.
The treatment drastically reduces hair growth. Many patients won’t see new hair in treated areas for months or even years, and the few hairs that may show up are usually much thinner.
Who can take advantage
Both men and women are candidates for laser hair removal. For some patients, the goal of laser hair removal is complete permanent hair reduction; however, other patients elect for a few treatments to eradicate painful shaving bumps or razor bumps. The bumps and pigmentation that occur with shaving and waxing can improve in as little as 1 treatment with laser hair removal.
While laser hair removal is most effective for people who have lighter skin and dark hair, it can be successfully used on all skin types as long as you are being treated by someone with experience performing laser hair removal in dark skin. Hair removal lasers use the dark pigment, as the target in the hair follicle, so unfortunately lasers will not work on very light, grey, white hairs.
Can you DIY at home
While there are laser hair removal devices on the market that you can purchase and do-it-yourself at home, the old adage of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should ” certainly applies. People with darker skin and lighter hair should be extra cautious.
At-home devices work similarly to professional treatments, but are smaller and use lower energy levels. It’s hard to cover a lot of surface area with such devices, so they’re much more time consuming. However, at home laser hair removal devices are often great for maintenance.
With any laser hair removal procedure there are risks of possible side effects, such as skin irritation and pigment changes, that vary with skin type and hair color. It is best to consult with a board certified dermatologist and someone who has experience with laser hair removal, to develop a treatment plan and monitor your pre-treatment and post-treatment care.
How many treatments are required
Generally, patients see a decrease of 60-90% of hairs after 6-8 professional treatments. Laser hair treatment is considered a permanent reduction, although some hairs may grow back slowly over time requiring touch up treatments about every 6-24 months depending on your baseline genetics and tendency to grow hair.
Hairs grow in different cycles, so the laser treatments must be done in several sessions in order to target all of the hairs.
Does it hurt
Laser hair removal is not very painful; most people describe it as little rubber bands hitting the skin. Both of the devices at Pure Dermatology have cooling tips which protect the skin and make the treatment more comfortable. You can also talk to your physician about using a topical numbing cream in sensitive areas prior to laser hair removal.
As treatments progress, they become less painful, as there is less hair to treat! Some hairs will fall out immediately after treatment, and some may take two to three weeks after treatment to shed.
How long does it last
Most people experience hair removal that lasts several months, and it might last for years. But laser hair removal doesn’t guarantee permanent hair removal. When hair regrows, it’s usually finer and lighter in color. You might need maintenance laser treatments for long-term hair reduction.
How do you prepare for the treatment
Laser hair removal is generally a “no downtime” procedure, although there is some preparation before your visit. Because the laser sees pigment, hair should not be waxed or tweezed at least 4-6 weeks before your appointment, because if hair has been pulled from the follicle then there is nothing to treat. You should go to your appointment with the area shaved, to make the visit more efficient. Depilatories that remove the hair are also acceptable.
It is not ideal to perform laser hair removal on tan skin as it will limit the settings we are able to use to give a superior result. Please make sure to wear your sunscreen and wear SPF clothing before a laser hair removal appointment and do not have a spray tan or cream tan at least 3 weeks before your appointment.
How is it done at Pure Dermatology
We have 2 devices onsite to make sure we can deliver safe and effective treatments to reduce unwanted hair, treat folliculitis, and shaving bumps and leave skin smooth and unblemished. We can treat all skin colors and types at Pure Dermatology and all of our laser treatments are directed by our board-certified dermatologists, Dr. Kate Zibilich Holcomb and Dr. Mara Haseltine.
Pure Dermatology offers the Lumenis Desire, a powerful diode laser, a laser that uses selective photothermolysis to selectively heat and destroy the pigment in the hair and protect the surrounding tissue.
The Light Sheer Desire by Lumenis is extremely effective, and is faster and less painful than lasers of years past. With 2 sizes of handpieces, the treatment can be customized to work quickly for large body areas. The Excel V has a long pulse 1064nm which is safe and effective in dark skin.
If you’re interested in laser hair removal, choose a doctor who’s board certified in a specialty such as dermatology and has experience with laser hair removal on your skin type.
Laser hair removal is one of the most popular laser procedures in the United States. This has resulted in this service being offered at many medical spas and laser centers. However, going to a board-certified dermatologist ensures you receive laser treatment that is safe and effective and tailored to your particular skin color and needs.
It is also important to be sure that laser hair removal is right for you as there are some medical conditions that cause excessive hair growth and if undiagnosed will result in useless treatments and a waste of time and money. The board-certified dermatologists at Pure Dermatology, have over 25 years of combined experience in performing laser hair removal as well as correcting problems from poorly performed treatments from unsupervised laser centers.
Contact Pure Dermatology in Metairie today to schedule a consultation and develop your personalized local laser hair removal plan treatment plan!