Laser hair removal utilizes laser energy to reduce and eliminate unwanted body and facial hair. It has the advantage of being able to treat small and large areas of unwanted hair at one time, and without the irritation associated with other hair removal treatments such as waxing, shaving, and electrolysis.
Lasers for hair removal first became available in 1996, and there have been many technological advances since then. Modern laser hair removal lasers can safely treat unwanted darker hair on patients of any skin type and any skin color. The most commonly treated areas are the back, arms, legs, armpits, upper lip, chin, and bikini line.
During a laser hair removal treatment, the laser energy is applied to the skin and is selectively taken up by the hair. The hair then transmits the energy into the hair follicle, where the energy is absorbed. The absorption of laser energy by the hair follicle leads to the eradication of functional hair follicles and permanent hair loss.
The hair removal laser works best on darker colored hair. This promotes absorption of the laser energy by the hair and not by the skin. For this reason, patients with unwanted blonde, white, or gray hair, and most red hair, are not advised to undergo laser hair removal.
Laser hair removal is not generally as painful as shaving, plucking or electrolysis, but you will feel a slight snap against the skin as the laser energy is applied. A numbing cream can be used prior to the treatment if desired, but most patients will not require numbing.
There is no downtime after a laser hair removal treatment. Patients can resume all of their normal activities immediately after leaving the office. The armpit and bikini areas are generally treated at 4-6 week intervals, the face at 6-week intervals, and the trunk, arms, and legs at 8-10 week intervals.
You can expect approximately 30% reduction in hair with each treatment. For this reason, multiple treatments are always necessary to achieve the desired reduction in hair in a given body area. In general, four or more treatments are required at each site to achieve maximum hair growth reduction.
These treatments are spaced one to three months apart, and the effects of laser hair removal can last for several months to several years.
Laser hair removal has no downtime, but you may experience some minor redness and swelling afterward. Any irritation is generally milder than after other non-laser hair removal methods.