Laser Hair Removal Guide
Laser hair removal is becoming more popular. It is a simple way to get rid of hair across the body, sometimes permanently. While the removal process is becoming more mainstream, there are things that should be known, including the types of lasers, the risks involved, and what questions need to be asked prior to having the procedure.
The more you know about laser hair removal, the easier it will be for you to decide if it’s right for you. It’s not for everyone and if you do decide to move forward, finding a reputable place is critical to ensure you have it done professionally.
Why Laser Hair Removal?
Men and women alike deal with hair in places they don’t want hair. This includes the back, legs, under arms, and other places. Laser hair removal is a permanent solution so a person does not have to worry about hair growth in these areas in the future.
Laser hair removal works by using wavelengths that are designed to destroy the hair follicle. Most places will advertise “maximum” hair reduction as opposed to total removal because it is nearly impossible to eliminate every single hair. However, most people will never have to worry about the hair in the areas where it is treated after they go through all of the procedures.
Laser hair removal is an alternative to other hair removal processes such as:
– Hair removal creams
Each of these hair removal processes have been used, with shaving and waxing being of the most common. However, some of these can lead to significant amounts of irritation. People who shave often experience shaving bumps and may also end up with scabs as they nick the surface repeatedly with the blade. With waxing, it can be painful, lead to redness, and if a person is allergic to the wax that is used, swelling.
Deciding on laser hair removal is a personal decision. If you are tired of waxing, shaving, or using other means of getting rid of hair, there is a permanent solution that you can explore.
While laser hair removal can be expensive, it is the convenience of it all. Think about how much time you could save every morning if you don’t have to shave. What if you never had to worry about going into a spa to have your back waxed?
Razors, shaving cream, waxing treatments and more can also add up financially over the cost of your life. The sessions are going to be a few hundred dollars each, but once they are spent, the hair is not going to grow back, which means you may be able to throw out your razor and never have to book a waxing appointment ever again.
There are several benefits to laser hair removal.
One of the first is that of precision. The lasers are able to select an area of skin where there are dark and course hairs and remove them without damaging any of the surrounding skin. Permanent hair loss is also experienced by approximately 90% of the people who go through 3-4 sessions.
Another benefit is that the procedure can be done quickly. It is considered a “lunchtime” procedure because it can be done on your lunch break. An area about the size of a quarter can be treated every second. This means an area such as the upper lip can be treated in under a minute. Larger areas, such as legs or arms, may take as long as an hour to treat.
There’s no a whole lot involved with a laser hair removal procedure. Some kind of training is involved and then the hair is zapped away. It’s best to leave the hair untreated for several weeks prior to going in for the laser treatment. This will ensure that the hairs’ roots can be found by the laser. It’s also a good idea to minimize sun exposure, plucking, dying, or anything else that you may be do that could complicate the hair removal.
Types of Lasers Used
It is important to know about the lasers used as there are many types. Most states do not have a lot of oversight about the aestheticians that perform laser treatments. Many of the state medical boards will allow for non physicians to use a laser for the purpose of hair removal, so you need to know about what’s going on before you sign on the dotted line for someone to proceed with using lasers on your skin.
If the wrong laser is used or used on the wrong setting, it’s possible to experience such side effects as:
– Increased hair growth
Not everyone is going to use the same laser at the same setting. For example, people with dark skin are going to require a different laser than people with light skin in order to get the same overall results. The doctor or technician is going to determine the laser based upon hair texture, color, and skin tone to avoid complications.
The Alexandrite Laser
The alexandrite laser is one of the most commonly used lasers for hair removal. The alexandrite crystal is used as the source of the laser and produces a wavelength in the spectrum of 755 nm. It can be referred to as a red light laser. It can be used as a q-switch laser, which results in a high intensity beam for short pulses. The heat energy that is created with the laser will destroy the roots of the hair follicles.
The alexandrite laser has been approved by the FDA. It can be used on the back, beck, chest, back, legs, under arms, and bikini area. It is most commonly used for people with light colored hair, but can be used for people with dark hair based upon the actual settings of the laser. Most pulse durations only last for all of 2 milliseconds and sometimes less.
Patients who have dark skin may not benefit from the alexandrite laser as it can destroy melanin, leaving patches of white skin in the wake of the laser.
The nd:Yag Laser
The nd:Yag laser is abbreviated for neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet, which is a type of crystal. The neodymium is what’s used to provide the actual laser activity. The wave length is 1064 nm and in a q-switched mode, there are two wavelengths produced, one of 1064 nm and one of 532 nm, making it a versatile laser for doctors and aestheticians to have.
Cells can be destroyed when using the Nd:Yag laser for hair removal. It is used in all of the same locations as the alexandrite laser and can be used for light colored hair and in some instances, dark colored hair depending upon the settings. The light pulses are typically of 2 to 20 milliseconds depending on the coarseness of hair to ensure that the hair falls out and minimizes regrowth.
The Diode Laser
The diode laser provides a deep penetration of the skin with a longer wavelength than some of the other lasers. It is also known for being able to work on darker skin. It can work on large parts of the body, making it ideal for legs, arms, and back, though not as effective on smaller areas, such as the face and under arms because of the spot size. The pulse range is approximately 5 to 30 milliseconds.
There are several diodes on the market and they can vary in terms of the pulse, fluence, and repetition rate. The average wavelength is going to be 800 nm. In some instances, there may be skin discoloration or redness, though it is temporary. It is mostly recommended for people with skin types 1 to 4 on the Fitzpatrick scale.
Other lasers that may be used can include ruby, which is a long pulsed as well as IPL, standing for intense pulsed light, which is actually not a laser but is commonly grouped with lasers because of the same overall process.
Speaking to a doctor or aesthetician is critical to understand what laser is going to be used based upon skin tone and hair coluor to maximize the results.
What the Procedure Entails
It’s always a good idea to know what to expect when you undergo a laser hair removal treatment.
- Hair will be trimmed to be a few millimeters above the surface of the skin
- The laser will be adjusted for your hair and skin type
- Eye protection may be required for you to wear
- Outer layers of skin will be covered with a cooling device or cold gel
- Pulses of light will be given to the area to be treated
- Upon completion, Ice packs or cream may be used to cool the area
After the procedure, you will then make an appointment for 4 to 6 weeks later until your hair stops growing in the various places where you are getting the treatments.
There may be some redness and it may even feel like your skin is sunburned in the days following the procedure. If the skin is exposed, it’s a good idea to wear sunscreen to avoid temporary pigment changes. Over the next several weeks, your hair will begin to fall out within the treated area.
Top Questions Asked with Laser Hair Removal
There are many questions asked when it comes to laser hair removal. While it’s always important to schedule a consultation prior to visiting a doctor or aesthetician for the procedure, some frequently asked questions have been established to help you get some of the answers – and provide prompts for what you should be asking during your own consultation. This will ensure that you are going in well aware of what’s going to take place.
Q: What are the risks involved?
A: There are not many risks involved with laser hair removal. It is an outpatient procedure that requires no recovery time. Some people will experience redness and since there is no skin removed with the lasers used in hair removal, there is a very low risk for infection or anything else. Depending upon skin tone and the laser used, some people may also experience temporary hyper or hypo pigmentation, which is where the skin is made lighter or darker.
Q: How much will it cost?
A: The costs vary based upon the amount of hair that is being removed as well as the number of procedures that are required in total. Under arms can be more affordable than whole leg simply because of the area that is being treated. It can often be cost effective to have multiple areas of the body treated at the same time to qualify for a discounted price. During the consultation, you will be able to get a better idea on pricing.
Q: When is regrowth seen?
A: Regrowth typically takes a few weeks to be seen. For most people, after the first procedure, it will take two weeks or more to see any regrowth. Treatments will then need to occur until no new growth is seen, which signifies that the follicle has been sufficiently destroyed through the laser treatment.
Q: How many procedures are required?
A: The number of procedures that is required will vary based on many factors, including the skin tone, color of the hair, as well as coarseness. Some people will only need three or four treatments while other people may need seven or eight in total to experience permanent hair removal.
Q: Will it hurt?
A: Everyone’s pain thresholds are different, though many people liken the sensation to a rubber band being snapped across the skin. There will be numbing cream available to apply before and after the procedure if you find that your skin is more sensitive.
Q: Does a facility have to be licensed?
A: Yes. A facility should be licensed to use the laser equipment. While some salons are now offering the procedure, it should be done by a doctor or licensed aesthetician to ensure that the settings on the laser are programmed specifically for your skin type.
Q: Is a home hair removal device the same?
A: No. there are home hair removal devices that use lasers, though they are not the same. The lasers for home use are considerably lower, which means it will require many more treatments. To avoid complications, it is best to have a medical professional work with the lasers for hair removal.
Q: Is there a difference between laser hair removal and electrolysis?
A: Yes. Laser hair removal handles a patch at a time. Electrolysis takes longer because it is handling a single strand of hair at a time.
Q: Is there an age limit?
A: No. There are people of all ages going in to get laser hair removal. If you are tired of shaving or waxing, it can be a good option for you to explore. Youth are still growing their hairs and therefore it is not recommended for people under the age of 13. People who are already experiencing gray hair may also not respond appropriately to the laser.
How to Find the Right Location
Since there are no certifications for people to get that allow them to conduct laser hair removal sessions, the research is up to you. Questions can be asked during the consultation and you can also go to find a licensed dermatologist that offers the hair removal sessions.
Rented vs. Owned
You can ask to find out whether the lasers are owned or rented. It is cost effective for a location to own the lasers if they are doing a number of procedures. If they are renting, it is likely that they are only doing a few procedures each month, which may speak volumes about the amount of experience that they have with laser hair removal.
Tan vs. No Tan
There are questions that you can ask to find out whether a doctor or aesthetician knows what he or she is doing. For example, if you have a tan, it is going to impact whether you are a candidate for hair removal or not. Studies have been shown that people with a tan are not going to experience the same level of hair removal because the wavelengths will not be able to penetrate sufficiently. The only way for the skin to be treated with a tan is to cause burns or use settings that are so low that they won’t be effective.
You have to look at how much the procedures are going to cost. Package deals can help to make the sessions more affordable because you already know that you’re going to need more than one session in order to get the results that you want.
In the end, you are responsible for wear you go to get laser hair removal procedures. Dermatologists, cosmetic surgeons, med spas, and other places offer the procedure, so you have to look at experience and cost to determine where the right place is so you get the desired effects without spending a fortune.