Laser Hair Removal

1 What is a Laser Hair Removal?

A medical procedure that uses a laser to remove unwanted hair is called laser hair removal. The laser is an intense and pulsating beam of light.

A laser beam will pass the through the skin to an individual hair follicle during laser hair removal. This will inhibit future hair growth because the intense heat of the laser damages the hair follicle.

This procedure is most effective for people who have dark hair and light skin. This does not guarantee that your hair will be permanently removed though it may slow hair growth.

To provide an extended hair-free period, you will need to undergo multiple laser removal treatments.

2 Reasons for Procedure

Here are the most common reasons to undergo a laser hair removal procedure.

The common areas for this procedure include underarms, legs, chin, bikini line and upper lip. This is used to reduce unwanted hair.

This procedure is most effective for people who have dark hair and light skin because the laser beams target the melanin in the hair, but there are new technologies that will make people who have darker skin be a candidate for this procedure.

This is not generally effective for gray, white, blond or red hair because the laser cannot see the lighter hair.

3 Potential Risks

This is not a permanent hair removal because some hair could be resistant.

The potential risks of laser hair removal include:

  • skin irritation – such as redness, discomfort and swelling after the procedure but nay disappear within several hours
  • pigment changes – this procedure may darken or lighten the affected area especially if an incorrect laser is used at an incorrect setting

This can also cause crusting, blister or scarring in skin texture but very rare. Graying of treated hair or paradoxically are some of the uncommon problems after the procedure.

This is not recommended to use near the eyes because it may cause eye injury.

4 Preparing for your Procedure

In preparing for your laser hair removal, you must follow your doctor’s orders. 

Consult a dermatologist or cosmetic surgery if you want to have a laser removal that has an experience with this procedure. Take extra precautions when going to a salon, spa for hair removal.

Before the hair removal your doctor may discuss things such as:

  • your medical history and the medications that you are taking
  • take photos to be used as before and after procedures
  • discuss with you the risks, expectations, and benefits of this procedure

You will both discuss the treatment plan.

Before the procedure, he may ask you to:

  • stay out of the sun to decrease side effects because of the tan skin, some will ask you to stay out of the sun for six weeks before the procedure
  • avoid waxing, plucking, and electrolysis because this can disturb the hair follicle and interfere with the removal of the hair but shaving is okay because it preserves the hair shaft and follicle

5 What to Expect

Here you can find out what to expect from your laser hair removal procedure.

The hair in the treatment area may be trimmed before the laser hair removal. To protect your eyes from the laser beam, your doctor will also give you goggles and may give you topical anesthetics for discomfort.

A cooling device on the tip of the instrument may be used to protect your skin depending on the type of laser that is going to be used. The doctor will press a hand-held laser and will activate it.

The laser beams will then pass onto your skin to the follicles. This intense heat will damage the hair follicles.

Treating a large area such as the back may take several hours but if it is a small area such as the upper lip it may only take a few minutes. You may notice swelling and redness after the procedure.

You may apply ice to reduce discomfort or your doctor may apply a steroid cream to the affected area if you had a skin reaction. Avoid sun exposure, natural and tanning beds.

There may also be hair shedding in the first few days to weeks and this may be mistaken for hair regrowth.

6 Procedure Results

The laser hair removal results may depend on what area of the face or body is treated and may vary from person to person.

Your doctor may suggest four to six treatments spaced around six weeks apart for best results or once every six to 12 months.

Home lasers have become available in recent years and this may cause hair reduction. These home laser removal devices are considered cosmetics and not medical by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

They do not have enough evidence that they are safe to use and effective. To help reduce the injury, follow the steps that come with the device if you choose to have a home laser hair removal.