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Laser Hair Removal FAQ

What is Laser Hair Removal?

A procedure that removes hair from the body utilizing a long pulse laser. Laser hair removal has been in use since 1997. The treatment is performed by a doctor by pointing the laser device at shaved skin. Laser heat disables follicles from producing hair. Since hair grows in cycles, various hairs will enter growth cycle at different times. 6-8 treatments at intervals will disable most of the follicles.

Who is a Candidate for Laser Hair Removal?

Both men and women may seek laser hair removal. It is commonly done on underarm, legs, abdomen, lip, chin, back, buttocks, thighs, face, neck, chest, arms, and toes. The technology works by targeting dark pigment so it works best on pale skin and dark coarse hair.

How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?

Lasers emit wavelengths of light that are absorbed by the pigment in the hair (melanin). When the surrounding skin is lighter than the color of the hair, the energy of the laser is concentrated in the hair shaft, effectively destroying it without affecting the skin or the follicle.  Since lasers target pigment, treatments are most effective on coarse hair because it has a lot of pigment and can absorb a lot of heat. Fine hair cannot absorb as much heat.

How Many Laser Treatments are needed?

Most patients need at 6-8 treatments. Hair grows in cycles so several sessions are necessary in order to affect all hair on any given area.

Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent?

Laser hair removal disables hair permanently as long as the right type of hair is treated with an appropriate type of laser at effective settings. With proper treatments, laser can remove the majority of the coarse hair on a body area.

Is Laser Hair Removal Painful?

Generally, laser hair removal is about as painful as waxing, though the sensation is different. The feeling resembles a rubber band snapping against the skin for a second. Pain is only felt while laser is hitting the skin and doesn’t last. Most people do not require an anesthetic cream, though one can be prescribed to more sensitive patients.

Are They any Laser Hair Removal Risks or Side Effects?

Most people experience no side effects. Some people may experience itching, redness,  and swelling for up to 3 days. The following rare side effects are indicative of inappropriate laser type and/or settings:

What To Do Before a Laser Treatment?

Patients shouldn’t wax, epilate, or remove hair with the root using another hair removal method prior to their first session and throughout their course of treatments. The hair needs to be in place in order to be targeted by laser because laser devices target the pigment in the hair.  The area to be treated should be shaved prior to treatments so that the energy is targeted towards the hair follicle and not wasted on the hair above the surface.

What Happens After a Treatment?

Treatments are relatively quick. Both underarms will take about 5 minutes while legs can take one hour. After treatment, ice packs and cooled pure aloe vera gel soothe the skin.

All hair should shed within 3 weeks. Sometimes, shedding starts as much as  10 days after the session. During the shedding, hair looks like it’s growing but it is actually coming out to shed.

After 3 weeks, some patients see small black dots remain in the hair follicles on some areas. Commonly referred to as “pepperspots”, these will eventually shed on their own. Exfoliating may help speed up the process.

After the hair sheds, patients experience a hair-free period for several weeks. Once new hair grows in, patients should come in for their next session.