Laser Hair Removal Facts
If you’re not happy with shaving, tweezing, or waxing to remove unwanted hair, laser hair removal may be an option worth considering. Laser hair removal is one of the most commonly done cosmetic procedures in the U.S. It beams highly concentrated light into hair follicles. Pigment in the follicles absorb the light. That destroys the hair.
How to Prepare for Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is more than just ”zapping” unwanted hair. It is a medical procedure that requires training to perform and carries potential risks. Before getting laser hair removal, you should thoroughly check the credentials of the doctor or technician performing the procedure.
If you are planning on undergoing laser hair removal, you should limit plucking, waxing, and electrolysis for six weeks before treatment. That’s because the laser targets the hairs’ roots, which are temporarily removed by waxing or plucking. You should also avoid sun exposure for six weeks before and after treatment. Sun exposure makes laser hair removal less effective and makes complications after treatment more likely.
What to Expect During Laser Hair Removal
Just before the procedure, your hair that will be undergoing treatment will be trimmed to a few millimeters above the skin surface. Usually topical numbing medicine is applied 20- 30 minutes before the laser procedure, to help with the sting of the laser pulses. The laser equipment will be adjusted according to the color, thickness, and location of your hair being treated as well as your skin color. Everyone in the room must wear protective eyewear during the procedure. To perform the procedure, the skin is held taut and the skin is treated with the laser. A laser removes hair by vaporizing it. This causes small plumes of smoke that have a sulfur-like smell.
How long your treatment lasts depends on the size of the area being treated. Treating the upper lip takes minutes. If you are having a large area like the back or legs treated, your treatment may last more than an hour.
What must I do after getting laser hair removal?
To avoid possible side effects, all patients need to protect their skin from the sun. After laser hair removal, you should:
- Avoid direct sunlight from hitting your treated skin.
- Not use a tanning bed, sun lamp, or any other indoor tanning equipment.
- Follow our after-care instructions.
You will see some redness and swelling after treatment. This often looks like a mild sunburn. Applying a cool compress can help reduce your discomfort.
Is there downtime?
No, laser hair removal generally does not require any real downtime. Immediately after having laser hair removal, your treated skin will be red and swollen. Despite this, most people return to their everyday activities.
When will I see the results after having laser hair removal?
You will likely see the results immediately after treatment. The results vary from patient to patient. The color and thickness of your hair, area treated, type of laser used, and color of your skin all affect the results. You can expect a 10% to 25% reduction in hair after the first treatment.
To remove the hair, most patients need 2 to 6 laser treatments. After finishing the treatments, most patients do not see any hair on the treated skin for several months or even years. When the hair regrows, there tends to be less of it. The hairs also tend to be finer and lighter in color.
What are the possible side effects?
The most common side effects are minor and last 1 to 3 days. These side effects include:
Other possible side effects are rare when laser hair removal is performed by a dermatologist or under the dermatologist’s direct supervision. Other possible side effects include:
- Herpes simplex (cold sores) outbreaks
- Skin lightening or darkening
Benefits of Laser Hair Removal
Lasers are useful for removing unwanted hair from the face, leg, chin, back, arm, underarm, bikini line, and other areas. Benefits of laser hair removal include:
Precision. Lasers can selectively target dark, coarse hairs while leaving the surrounding skin undamaged.
Speed. Each pulse of the laser takes a fraction of a second and can treat many hairs at the same time. The laser can treat an area approximately the size of a quarter every second. Small areas such as the upper lip can be treated in less than a minute, and large areas, such as the back or legs, may take up to an hour.
Predictability. Most patients have permanent hair loss after an average of three to seven sessions.
Schedule an appointment at our office for your laser hair removal. You can contact Western Maryland Dermatology at (301) 777-7900 or visit us online at wmderma.com/contact where you can chat with one of our reservation specialists.