Summer is officially over, and autumn has arrived. As you pack away your sunscreen and swimsuits and pull out your sweaters and thickest socks, you may not be thinking about laser hair removal. But fall and winter are actually the perfect time to achieve softer, smoother skin without any razors or wax! Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about laser hair removal as an alternative to shaving or waxing.
Here at Dermatology Realm, we can help you get rid of any unwanted facial or body hair using a combination of intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy and ND: YAG lasers. The process can seem intimidating if you’re not sure what to expect from it, so let’s take a closer look at how laser hair removal works and what the benefits are!
How does laser hair removal work?
Laser treatments target hair when it’s in the active growth phase. The laser emits controlled pulses of energy which are absorbed by the pigment in the hair, known as melanin. It does this by reaching right into the active hair follicles that lie beneath the skin.
In other words, as the follicles absorb the heat from the laser, it destroys them from the root up without damaging any of the surrounding tissue or skin. Most patients will need a course of 6-8 sessions to visibly reduce or permanently remove the hair in the treated area, leaving it soft and smooth.
IPL therapy is not actually a laser treatment, but we use it in conjunction with our ND: YAG laser to produce the best results for our patients. Where lasers use a single spectrum light, IPL technology uses multi-spectrum lights to target the melanin in the hair. Because the energy is scattered, it is a bit weaker than a laser’s beam would be. This makes it a gentler but still powerful method of removing the hair.
The ND: YAG laser emits long wavelengths of densified light that can reach past the melanin in the skin to reach the melanin in the hair. This innovative technology allows us to destroy hair at the papilla, the bulbous structure at the base of the hair follicle, producing longer-lasting results. Studies have shown that combining IPL technology with the ND: YAG laser is more effective overall, leading to more efficient hair removal and stronger patient satisfaction.
What are the benefits of laser hair removal?
Laser hair removal is non-surgical, non-invasive, and comes with many proven benefits.
Precision––The intense pulsed light (IPL) is able to accurately target hairs all the way down to the follicle.
Speed––The length of treatment will vary from case to case, depending on the areas being treated, the skin tone, and the color of the hair. However, many patients see results within just a few weeks of their first treatment!
Cost––It’s true that you’ll have to invest quite a bit more upfront to cover laser hair removal treatments, but think about your savings in the long run! No more razors, shaving cream, waxing appointments…you just throw on your clothes and go. Can you really put a price on that kind of freedom?
Comfort—Laser treatments can cause some slight discomfort initially, but it’s nothing compared to unsightly ingrown hairs, irritating razor burn, and painful waxes. The discomfort also tends to fade more and more with each session.
Convenience—Laser hair removal can be done on any area of your body, including your face, legs, underarms, back, and bikini line. Wherever you’ve got unwanted hair, we can remove it safely and effectively!
Who is a good candidate for laser hair removal?
While laser hair removal will work for almost anyone, some patients will have better results than others. The ideal candidate for laser hair removal will have fair to light skin with dark, coarse hair.
Patients with red, blonde, white, or fine hair may require extra treatments to see more permanent results, as there’s not enough pigment in lighter hair to absorb the light from the laser. If the hair follicles aren’t able to absorb an adequate amount of light from the laser, the heat won’t be able to destroy them.
People with darker skin are eligible for laser hair removal, but they can be more susceptible to a side effect called hyperpigmentation, or a darkening of their skin. We can reduce the amount of energy used during treatment to help counteract this.
What does laser hair removal feel like?
Laser hair removal treatments can be slightly uncomfortable, but they are typically not painful. The intense heat of the laser feels similar to a warm pinprick, which is often alleviated by the cooling mechanism built into the device. Your comfort is our top priority and we’ll do everything we can to make this a pleasant process! There are also a few things you can do to make these sessions as enjoyable as possible:
- Take a pain reliever about thirty minutes before your scheduled treatment.
- Don’t drink alcohol for 24 hours before your scheduled treatment.
- Avoid this treatment if you are on antibiotics, as they are photosensitizing. That means they make your skin more sensitive to light and can lead to a burning sensation on your skin when exposed to the laser.
- Avoid sun exposure before your scheduled treatment.
Treatment times will vary depending on the size of the area or areas being treated. A session involving your upper lip might take 15 minutes or less, while treating the entire back may take closer to an hour. Either way, there’s no downtime and recovery is a breeze! There may be some redness or mild swelling for the first few hours after treatment, but this typically resolves itself quickly. If you have any discomfort, you can apply ice to the treated area for fast relief.
While you are going through your laser hair removal treatments, it’s very important to:
- Avoid natural sunlight, tanning beds, and even tanning sprays for six weeks after each session
- Use a good sunscreen every day
- Stay away from the gym, sauna, and hot showers for 24 hours after each session
How long do the results of laser hair removal last?
Again, this will vary from case to case, but most patients will find their results last for many years. Some even experience permanent hair loss!
Hair loss and growth occurs in cycles, and laser hair removal specifically targets follicles in the growing stage. For this reason, you shouldn’t expect for the hair in the treated areas to fall out immediately. They will instead shed over the course of several days or weeks, although you can speed this process up by exfoliating using a scrub or washcloth. This targeted cycle is also why repeated treatments are necessary—they continuously target new hair growth.
Make unwanted hair a thing of the past with laser removal from Dermatology Realm
If you’re sick of shaving and done with waxing, laser hair removal can be an excellent option to achieve smoother, softer skin without all the hassle! Our treatments are customized for your hair type, skin color, and treatment area to give you the best results in the least amount of time. To learn more about this exciting technology, get in touch with our team today to schedule your FREE cosmetic consultation in our Germantown office!