Laser Hair Removal Information
Laser Hair Removal is the fastest growing hair removal process on the market today. Find out everything you need to know about laser hair removal today in our guide.
What is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser Hair Removal is a hair removal process that removes most unwanted fuzz and stubble using beams of focused light that penetrate to shallow depths just beneath the surface of your skin.
These lasers work by targeting the hair follicle. They effectively “zap” the follicle, preventing further growth while destroying the existing hair.
Laser hair removal technology was once prohibitively expensive. Old lasers also only worked on users with a certain hair color and skin tone.
Today, advances in laser technology have opened the system to a wider group of people of all different skin types, hair colors, and budgets.
One recent report by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery claims that more than 1.1 million laser hair removal procedures were performed in 2014 in the United States alone.
How Does Laser Hair Removal Technology Work?
During a laser hair removal procedure, a technician will use a small handheld device to pass a concentrated beam of light – a laser – over your skin.
That laser beam passes safely through the outer layer of your skin to zap individual hair follicles with heat and light.
After zapping these follicles, the follicles are damaged, which means it’s hard (and often impossible) for the hair to grow back.
Permanent laser hair removal requires 3 to 5 sessions placed 4 to 6 weeks apart.
Is it Safe?
Laser hair removal is perfectly safe. Today’s laser hair removal machines are made by globally-recognized medical equipment companies with a long history of safe medical usage.
One thing that some skeptics caution is that we don’t know the long-term effects of laser hair removal. Obviously, since the technology has been around for only a few years, it’s impossible to assess the effects that may occur say, decades, after getting the procedure performed.
Nevertheless, there have been no reported major health complications from laser hair removal procedures.
Following treatment, patients often experience minor redness, sensitivity, and short-term scarring in the area. You will also be more sensitive to sunlight in the days following treatment, which is why you’re advised to avoid the sun or wear a powerful sunblock.
In fact, one of the only parts of the procedure that has the potential to be dangerous is the application of numbing cream: the FDA has issued warnings against some numbing creams used by laser hair removal clinics.
Does Laser Hair Removal Hurt?
Laser hair removal is often described as feeling like a rubber band being repeatedly snapped over your skin.
Depending on your pain tolerance, some will claim that it’s hardly painful at all, while others describe it as a painful procedure.
Whatever pain you do feel is very brief. The discomfort is over almost immediately.
Many clinics will offer topical numbing creams to soothe the skin. As mentioned above, those numbing creams often come with dangerous side effects. As a more natural alternative, some people (or clinics) will apply ice to the skin prior to treatment.
Following the procedure, your skin will be red and slightly swollen for 1 to 3 days, but this is to be expected. You might feel some discomfort during these few days, but it’s still relatively mild.
Who Are the Best Candidates for Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal equipment has improved by leaps and bounds over the years.
In days gone by, only those with fair skin and dark hair could effectively undergo laser hair removal. Meanwhile, those with red hair, blonde hair, gray hair, or medium and dark skin tones were left with no options.
Today, however, newer technologies have allowed clinics to treat a wide range of skin and hair colors.
The secret lies in the different laser technology. Good clinics will have multiple lasers that can handle all different types of skin tones and hair colors.
Keep in mind there’s no one size fits all machine. Make sure your clinic has a laser hair removal machine that caters specifically to your unique body type.
Also consider the fact that approximately 5% of patients are resistant to any type of hair removal laser – due to some combination of their hair type, skin tone, or other physical characteristics.
Why Do I Need Multiple Treatments?
In order for laser hair removal to work most effectively, you’ll typically need to undergo multiple treatments.
3 to 7 treatments is the generally accepted number of treatments required for laser hair removal to work most effectively.
You need multiple treatments to target the hair at different stages of growth. When you only undergo one procedure, you’re only targeting hair at a specific stage of growth while other hair is allowed to continue to grow to its full length. The procedures need to be timed specifically over a period of several weeks for them to work most effectively.
Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent?
There’s a lot of confusion over whether or not laser hair removal is a permanent hair removal solution.
On the one hand, the FDA has approved laser hair removal as a “permanent hair reduction”. That’s different from permanent hair removal. The FDA has given another hair removal procedure, electrolysis, a label as a “permanent hair removal” solution.
With that in mind, laser hair removal is a permanent hair removal solution for the vast majority of people who undergo the procedure.
In cases where the hair does grow back, it’s typically softer, finer, and sparser than it was previously.
Is Laser Hair Removal Worth the Price?
If you’re trying to decide whether or not laser hair removal is worth the price, then consider the fact that 90% of visitors on RealSelf.com have rated the procedure as “worth it” over the past 24 months.
The average price of a laser hair removal treatment is $900. Keep in mind that this is the total average cost – so the average cost of 3 to 5 separate procedures.
Meanwhile, WebMD.com reports that the average cost of laser hair removal per session is $235.
Obviously, the price varies widely depending on your geographic location. Certain parts of the body are also more expensive. Larger areas like a back will cost more per treatment than, say, your upper lip.
How to Prepare for Laser Hair Removal
Your preparation for laser hair removal should start six weeks before your treatment.
Six weeks prior to your treatment, you should limit your plucking, waxing, electrolysis, and any other hair removal methods you use.
Why? Well, lasers work by targeting the roots of the hair. If those roots aren’t there, then the laser can’t work.
At the same time, you should also avoid excessive sun exposure for six weeks before and after treatment. When your skin is tanned before treatment, it makes laser hair removal less effective. After treatment, your skin is more susceptible to sun damage, which can put you at a greater risk of complications.