Laser hair removal is one of today’s popular medical procedures that utilize concentrated light beams, or lasers, to remove unwanted hair. A laser emits light absorbed by the pigment (melanin) in the hair during laser hair removal. This light energy is then converted to heat, damaging the tube-shaped sacs within the hair follicles in the skin that produces hair. This apparent damage inhibits or delays future hair growth. Although laser hair removal effectively hinders hair growth for longer times, it typically doesn’t proceed to eventual permanent hair removal. Various laser hair removal treatments are needed for initial hair removal, and they might also require maintenance treatments. Laser hair removal is perfect for those who have light skin and dark hair, but practitioners can successfully use it on all skin types. Today, let’s learn more about this popular hair treatment.
Why Laser Hair Removal
Typically, laser hair removal is utilized for unwanted hair reduction. Common locations for treatment include the chin, the legs, the armpits, the upper lip, and the bikini line. Although, it’s pretty possible treating unwanted hair in nearly any area except those in the eyelid or surrounding area. Doctors should not treat skin with tattoos also.
Factors such as skin type and hair color are significant influences on the success of laser hair removal. This basic principle is that the pigment of the hair, but not the skin’s pigment, should automatically absorb light. Lasers should damage only hair follicles while avoiding damage to the skin. The contrast between hair and skin color — dark hair and light skin — should result in the best outcomes.
Side effects that pose risks vary significantly because of hair color, skin type, treatment plan, and care adherence (pre-treatment and post-treatment). The most common after-effects of laser hair removal include:
- Skin irritation – involves redness, temporary discomfort, and swelling possible after laser hair removal. All signs and symptoms typically fade within several hours.
- Pigment changes – this procedure might darken or lighten the affected skin. These apparent changes may be temporary or permanent. Skin lightening mainly affects people who don’t usually avoid exposure to the sun before or after treatment and those with darker skin.
Laser hair removal rarely causes changes in the texture of the skin texture. These include blistering, crusting, and scarring, among others. Other rare side effects may include treated hair graying or excessive hair growth around the treated areas, specifically darker skin. This procedure isn’t suggested for eyelids, eyebrows, or surrounding areas, due to the possibility of severe eye injury.
How to Prepare
If you want laser hair removal, look for a board-certified doctor or practitioner in a specialty such as dermatology or cosmetic surgery, well-versed and experienced in administering laser hair removal on your skin type. If other medical experts such as physician assistants or licensed nurses do your procedure, make sure doctors supervise and are available on-site during your scheduled treatments. Remember to be cautious about spas, salons, or other facilities that allow nonmedical personnel to do laser hair removal. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your laser hair removal treatment:
- Before laser hair removal, schedule consultations with the doctor to determine if this is an appropriate treatment option. Doctors or healthcare providers will likely do and provide the following:
- Review medical history, including your medication use, skin disorders or scarring history, and past procedures on hair removal
- Talk to you about all the benefits, risks, and expectations, including what the laser hair removal procedure can and can’t do for your skin.
- Take photos before-and-after assessments and long-term reviews you can use
- At consultations, discuss treatment plans and related costs with your doctor and healthcare adviser. Typically, laser hair removal is an out-of-pocket expense.
Doctors or healthcare providers will also provide specific instructions to help you prepare for your laser hair removal. These steps might include:
- Staying out of the sun. Remember to follow experts’ advice to avoid sun exposure before and after your treatment. Every time you go out, always apply broad-spectrum SPF30 sunscreens.
- Lightening your skin. Avoid sunless skin creams that only darken your skin. Doctors and healthcare providers might also prescribe skin bleaching creams if you have recent tanning or darker skin.
- Avoiding other hair removal methods like plucking, waxing, and electrolysis can disturb the hair follicle and should be avoided at least four weeks before treatment.
- Avoiding blood-thinning medications. Ask your doctor about what medicines to avoid before the procedure, such as aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Shaving treatment area. Trimming and shaving are recommended the day before laser treatment. It removes hair above the skin, resulting in surface skin damage from burnt hairs, but it leaves the hair shaft intact below the surface.
What to Expect
During the Procedure
- Doctors or healthcare providers will press a hand-held laser instrument on your skin. Depending on the type of laser, practitioners might use a cooling device on the instrument’s tip or a cool gel, protecting your skin and lessening all the risk of side effects.
- After your doctor activates the laser, the laser beam passes through your skin to the hair follicles. This intense heat coming from the laser beam can damage the hair follicles, which inhibit hair growth. There might be a feeling of discomforts like warm pinpricks, likely feeling a cold sensation from the cooling device or gel.
- Targeting small areas like the upper lip might take only a few minutes. Most of the time, treatment of a larger space in the back might take more than an hour.
After the Procedure
- You might notice redness and swell for the next first few hours from your laser hair removal.
- To reduce any feeling of discomfort, apply ice to the treated area. When you have skin reactions immediately after laser hair removal, doctors might start using steroid creams on the affected area.
- After laser hair removal, avoid sunlight as much as possible, and never use tanning beds for the next six (6) weeks or as suggested by your doctor or health care provider.
- Hairs never fall out immediately. However, you will surely shed them over the next few days, turning them into weeks. This result may appear like hair continuing its growth. Repeated treatments are usually necessary since hair growth and loss naturally occur in a cycle. Laser treatment working best when dealing with hair follicles in the new-growth stage can be tiring.
- Results significantly vary and are difficult to predict, especially since individuals are unique. Try to experience hair removal that lasts several months. It might even last for years. Although, laser hair removal doesn’t guarantee permanent hair removal. When hair regrows, it’s usually more delicate and brightens up the color.
- You’ll no longer need light need maintenance laser treatments for long-term hair reduction.
Final Thoughts on Laser Hair Removal
Although laser hair removal isn’t exactly permanent, it’s still one of the best options for slowing hair growth over an extended time. Other long-term hair removal options you can discuss with a dermatologist include electrolysis and needle epilators. If you don’t want to go through with the expense of medical procedures that aren’t permanent anyway, there are numerous at-home hair removal options.