Although there are many methods for removing unwanted hair, most of them are tedious and are unable to remove unwanted hair permanently. Laser hair removal is an option that can quickly and easily remove hair from virtually anywhere on the body, including the chest, back, arms, underarms, legs, bikini line and face. It can also remove hair permanently from these areas after only a few treatments. Find out more about who can benefit most from the procedure, how laser hair removal works, how the procedure is performed, the recovery period, expected results and costs associated with laser hair removal.
Candidates for Laser Hair Removal
Individuals with light skin who have hair that is dark with a coarse texture are often considered the ideal candidates for laser hair removal. Since the laser beam focuses on the melanin, or pigment in the hair, individuals who have blonde, gray or white hair will experience unsatisfactory results. Individuals with darker complexions may still be considered a candidate for laser hair removal, although there is an increased risk of lightening of the skin. Anyone with dermatitis, cystic acne, psoriasis and those taking Accutane or applying Retin-A to their skin should not receive laser hair removal.
How Laser Hair Removal Works
A concentrated laser beam passes through the skin and targets the hair follicles. The pigment within the hair follicle absorbs the light, which causes damage to the targeted follicles. This process can slow the growth of hair and can prevent hair from growing in the treated areas.
How Laser Hair Removal is Performed
Before the start of treatment, the patient will be given goggles to protect their eyes from the laser beam. The technician may also apply a topical anesthetic cream to the skin prior to beginning treatment. This will lessen any discomfort during the procedure. A hand-held laser device is pressed against the skin during the treatment session. Many of these instruments feature a cooling device at the tip of the device, which protects skin when the laser is activated. The technician then activates the laser, which delivers a pulse of light to the hair follicle. It is possible for the patient to feel a gentle pinch or stinging sensation during the laser treatment. Upon completion of the treatment session, the patient may be given an ice pack, aloe or an anti-inflammatory cream to minimize skin discomfort. If a small area is being treated, the total length of the procedure may be less than 15 minutes. For numerous or large treatment areas, total procedure time may exceed one hour.
The skin may be red and slightly swollen for a few hours after the procedure. The skin of individuals with sensitive skin may appear to be sunburned, although this is only temporary. Moisturizers and the application of cool compresses will help alleviate any redness or discomfort. Although patients can resume most of their everyday activities following laser hair removal treatment, it is advised that they do not exercise or use a Jacuzzi for at least 24 hours following treatment.
Treated areas should be cleaned gently with a mild soap during the healing process and the skin should not be scrubbed vigorously. Sun exposure should be avoided for the first week of treatment. Afterwards, sunscreen should always be applied to protect the skin from the damaging effects of the sun. Patients should refrain from waxing or using depilatory creams after receiving laser hair removal treatment.
The success of laser hair removal will vary depending on each person who receives the treatment. With each subsequent treatment, hair re-growth will be lighter in color and have a finer texture. Three to five treatments may be needed before a significant reduction in hair growth is seen. Most patients experience permanent hair loss after this time period, although periodic maintenance treatments may be required every six to twelve months.
The costs associated with laser hair removal will vary and are dependent upon the location of the patient, the size of the treatment area and the number of treatments required for permanent hair removal. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has estimated that the average cost for laser hair removal is $429.