What is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal is a procedure which removes hair from the body utilizing a long pulse laser. Laser heat disables follicles from producing hair. Hair grows in cycles. Since various hairs will enter their growth cycle at different times, about 6-8 treatments at intervals of 4-12 weeks, depending on body area, are necessary to disable most of the follicles.
How Many Laser Treatments will I Need and How Far Apart Should I Schedule?
Most patients need at least 6-8 effective treatments spaced 4 -12 weeks apart. Because hair grows in cycles, several sessions are necessary in order to affect all hair on any given area. Due to length of hair growth cycles, treatments are usually needed once every 4-12 weeks. Hair cycle length varies depending on body part.
Shedding of all treated hair should be expected within 3 weeks of each treatment.
Once the hair sheds, patients should experience a hair-free period for several weeks. Once new hair comes in again, patients should come in for their next session.
Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent?
Laser hair removal lasers have been in use since 1997 and the Food and Drug Administration approved them for “permanent reduction.” They disable hair permanently as long as the right type of hair is treated with an appropriate type of laser at effective settings.
However, it is called a “reduction” because, no matter what some clinics may claim, hair removal lasers do not always remove 100% of the hair in an area. With proper treatments, laser can remove the majority of the coarse hair on a body area, but they cannot remove finer hair. Be cautious of clinics making claims that seem too good to be true.
Generally, a patient can tell how much reduction was achieved from a course of treatments after waiting 6-12 months from their last treatment. Any hair that grows in after the 12-month period is new hair that the body can develop due to numerous factors such as age, diet, hormonal changes, and medical conditions such as PCOS. Patients who experience new growth later in life can get touchup treatments.
Is Laser Hair Removal Painful?
In one pulse, laser removes all the hair on a patch of skin the size of a nickel or a quarter. Generally, laser hair removal is not much more painful than waxing, though the sensation is different. With each pulse, the feeling resembles a rubber band snapping against the skin for a quick second. Pain is only felt while laser is hitting the skin and doesn’t last. We also use a Zimmer Cryo Cooler to keep your skin comfortable during the procedure.
Are There any Laser Hair Removal Risks or Side Effects?
Some people may experience the following potential temporary side effects:
Redness for up to 3 days
Swelling around mouth of follicle for up to 3 days
Tingling or feeling of numbness
What Should I Expect Before and After a Laser Treatment?
As with all laser procedures, there should be no sun exposure to the treatment area at least two weeks prior. This includes; spray tans, bronzing lotions and tanning beds.
Patients should not wax, epilate, or remove hair with the root using any other hair removal method for at least 6 weeks 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 as laser devices targets the pigment in the hair.
The area to be treated should be shaved 1-2 days prior to treatments so that the energy is targeted towards the hair follicle and not wasted it on the hair above the skin’s surface. Treating unshaved skin can result in burning of the skin by singed hairs.
Treatments are relatively quick. Both underarms take about 5 minutes. Full legs can take 1-1.5 hours. After the treatment, applying ice packs and cooled pure aloe vera gel can help soothe the skin.
All hair should shed within 3 weeks following the treatment. Sometimes, shedding doesn’t start until about 10 days after the session. During the shedding phase, hair may look like it’s growing, but it is actually coming out to shed. Exfoliating and/or scrubbing gently in the shower with a loofa can help speed up the shedding process.
Once the hair sheds, patients should experience a hair-free period for several weeks. Once new hair grows in, patients should come in for their next session. For most people and on most body areas, this happens about 4-12 weeks after the previous treatment.
Patients should continue treatments until remaining hairs are too fine for laser to target, or until they’ve reached their desired reduction.
What Are the Hair Growth Cycles?
Hair growth in each hair follicle occurs in a cycle. There are three main phases of the hair growth cycle: anagen, catagen and telogen.
Anagen (active) is the growing phase or when the hair fiber is produced.
Catagen (club hair) is the period of controlled regression of the hair follicle. This phase is when the lower part of the hair stops growing, but does not shed, and the follicle is reabsorbed.
Telogen (tired) is the last of the hair growth cycle. In this resting phase, the old hair falls out in preparation for the development of a new anagen hair.
Normally this cycle of hair production will continue for the duration of the individual's life. However, various factors can influence, promote and inhibit hair production.Laser affects hairs when it’s in its anagen phase of growth. Thus, patients need multiple treatments in order to disable each batch of hair as it enters the anagen phase of growth. Hair cycle length varies depending on body part. Face usually requires more frequent treatments (about 4-6 weeks apart) whereas legs and back need less frequent treatments (closer to 8-12 weeks apart). Spacing treatments allows adequate time to target hair on most body areas.