What is laser hair removal? How does it work? How often will I need treatments?
In this post, you will find out everything you need to know about laser hair removal.
The laser light hits the hair shaft. It then travels down the hair shaft to destroy the hair root. It will only destroy those hair follicles that are in the growth phase. This explains why you need several treatments. Only approximately 20% of the hair is in the growth phase at one time (this varies for different parts of the body)
The most important thing to remember is that you cannot be tanned in the area in which we are doing laser hair removal. It is fine for your face to be tanned if we are only lasering your bikini. you can tan after your laser treatment, but you cannot be tanned before your laser session. If you are tanned, it increases your risk of getting a burn. There is no magic date for how long you have to wait if you are tanned. Some people lose their tans quickly and others hold the tan much longer.
Try to not apply sunscreen or lotions to the area that is going to be lasered. If you do, please make sure that you thoroughly remove it before having your laser session.
Many patients like to apply a numbing cream (we sell an excellent cream) to the area which is going to be lasered. You want to apply the numbing cream one hour before your session and cover it with Saran Wrap. This increases the absorption of the numbing cream and also prevents it from getting all over your clothes. Many of my patients do not bother with the numbing cream at all since we always use a cooler. However, I would strongly recommend using a numbing cream for your first session.
Ideally, you do facial laser sessions every 4 weeks and body sessions every six weeks. However, these are guidelines and sometimes life or travel gets in the way. Remember, even if you are going overseas and there will be a gap of many months between sessions, you have not wasted your money. Hair that is destroyed remains destroyed.
Light skin and dark skin require different treatment modalities. The inexpensive lasers do not offer two different treatments. We use the Cynosure Elite Laser. This is essentially two completely different lasers in one box. We also use the Alexandrite laser for anyone with white skin or lighter colored skin. We use the YAG laser for anyone with darker skin. Anyone with darker skin should ONLY be treated with a YAG laser or a similar laser. However, if the YAG laser, is used on a lighter skin person, it is not nearly as effective as the Alexandrite Laser
This is impossible to know for sure since it definitely varies from person to person and also between areas. I have found that in general, the armpit is the fastest and easiest to remove. Facial hair will generally require more treatments for removal than body hair. I tell most patients to plan 5-9 sessions. I have had a number of patients who did not need more than 3-4 sessions for their armpits.
We always use a cooler that sprays cold air on the area being treated and it is focused directly on the lasered area. I have had patients who had treatments elsewhere that do not offer this, and that made it very uncomfortable. You must find a place that offers an air cooler. In addition, many of my patients will use a numbing cream, applied 45-60 minutes before the session (must be washed off immediately before the session). This should be more than adequate for almost everyone. If you are still a very sensitive individual, we also offer (at an additional charge) Nitronox (which is nitrous oxide/laughing gas). That should make it quite easy. You can still drive yourself, if you use the Nitronox, as it wears off very rapidly.
As I mentioned, since each session removes about 20% of the hair, it can be hard to see any difference after only one session You need to be patient. Many patients notice that even after one session, the hair seems to be coming in much finer. This is a common observation for the arms and especially the legs. After 3 sessions, you should certainly see less hair.
You must have some color to the hair that is different than your skin color. No hair removal lasers will work on white or very blonde or grey hair. It can be hard to predict the success of light brown or reddish-brown hair – you just have to try and see. Usually, these people have light-colored skin and we can often increase the energy of the laser to increase the chance of success.
We have had many patients with near-perfect hair removal. However, when the hormone environment changes dramatically, eg. pregnancy or menopause, then there can be stimulation of dormant hairs.
Also, cheaper hair reduction systems are not very effective and are definitely not permanent. You want to make sure a permanent hair reduction system is being used.
Please let us know if you have a history of cold sores and you are doing laser hair removal on your face. We will start you a day ahead of time on an antiviral. Just a few doses should be enough.