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Laser hair removal isn’t as complicated as you might think! We’ve gathered up answers to just about any laser hair removal question you could think of, including information for care both before and after your treatment.
So without further ado, let’s get right into it.
Patients must discontinue the use of retinol or bleaching creams for at least 2 weeks.
Avoid any sunburns or excessive sun exposure two weeks prior to your treatment.
Patients must communicate to healthcare providers if they have received any ablative or non ablative treatments on their skin within 4 weeks.
Patients must shave the area they are going to treat the morning of or the night before. There is a $25 fee if the area is not shaved prior to treatment.
Photosensitive medication should be discontinued for 2 weeks prior to your treatment. Before discontinuing use, patients should seek advice from their primary care physician.
Cold (not frozen) packs should be applied immediately after treatment, to cool the treatment site, reduce swelling and ease discomfort.
Chemical cold packs are not recommended, if their temperature is below 4°C. Frozen 4×4 gauze pads, previously moistened with water and inserted into small plastic bags can be used.
Care should be taken to prevent trauma to the treated area for the first four or five days following treatment: no hot bath, no aerobic exercise, massage, etc.
Patients should use high factor (30–50 SPF) sunblock and protect the treated area from exposure to sunlight for at least one month following treatment. Tanning after treatment sessions may enhance melanin regeneration, which may result in hyperpigmentation.
Most patients may apply makeup immediately after treatment. However, we advise patients to stop wearing makeup, if the treatment site scales or cakes.
The skin is sensitive during this period, and removing makeup, especially if it is difficult to remove, may damage the skin and predispose the site to infection.
Patients are advised to maintain high hygienic standards of the treated area for several days following treatment. Patients are advised not to participate in rough sports or similar activities for several days following treatment, until the skin returns to its normal condition.
Patients should return 4 to 5 weeks after treatment, for examination of the treatment site and for additional treatment, if necessary. Usually, four to five weeks is the interval between treatments. The rate of hair growth depends on the individual and the body area treated, sex and hormonal, physiological conditions and the season in which treatment was performed.
If no additional treatment is necessary, patients should return for an additional re-examination three to four weeks later, preferably when new hair has grown in the treatment area.
If there has been partial hair clearance, treatment should be continued using the same parameters, and the patient should return after 4 to 8 weeks for additional treatment, if necessary. If no change is noted, treatment parameters should be changed.
The answer to this question most certainly depends on your skin type and also the healthcare professional that is providing the treatment. The same laser hair removal equipment might have vastly different results if the health care professionals using the equipment are not versed in laser safety and effective settings.
One thing that is important to keep in mind when choosing a laser is that we are talking about types of laser and brands of lasers in this discussion. The Lumenis Lightsheer is an excellent Diode laser. The Cynosure Apogee is an excellent alexandrite laser and the Sciton Profile is an excellent long pulsed Nd:Yg laser. We recommend to do a bit of research about your health care provider and also do not be afraid to ask about settings or experience of your provider.
Finally, we highly recommend that the laser equipment that you seek out be cleared by the FDA. There are providers out in the market that are rendering laser hair removal services with unregulated laser equipment that patients should be careful about.
There are many variables that determine the end cost of laser hair removal. These include number of sessions, equipment used, color of hair, and pricing policies of the facility. One thing is for certain, you will need multiple treatments, usually between 5-8 depending on area and length of growth cycle.
Small areas like the underarms and chin can be very affordable. Other areas like full legs can get quite pricey. We have seen sessions go for as little as $30 and go for as much as $500.
Again, because of the variety in lasers, facilities, and providers, it is best to ask questions about settings, laser equipment, and frequency before making the commitment. This will help you as a patient be informed about the expectations. Not every patient will see the same results or will need the same medical service protocol.
All laser treatments have an element of risk. An experienced health care provider will determine if you’re a good candidate and will use the best laser settings appropriate for your skin.
Even with the best preparation, skill and experience, there is always a chance of burning, hyper or hypo-pigmentation, blistering, scarring and in rare cases, growth of hair in the treated area. The following are some of the risks associated with laser hair removal.
DISCOMFORT– Some discomfort may be experienced during laser treatment.
WOUND HEALING– Laser Surgery can result in swelling, blistering, crusting, or flaking of the treated areas, which may require one to three weeks to heal. Once the surface has healed, it may be pink or sensitive to the sun for an additional two to four weeks, or longer in some patients.
BRUISING/SWELLING/INFECTION – With some lasers, bruising of the treated area may occur. Additionally, there may be some swelling noted. Finally, skin infection is a possibility although rare, whenever a skin procedure is performed.
PIGMENT CHANGES (Skin Color) – During the healing process, there is a slight possibility that the treated area can become either lighter or darker in color compared to the surrounding skin. This is usually temporary, but, on a rare occasion, it may be permanent.
SCARRING – Scarring is a rare occurrence, but it is a possibility when the skin’s surface is disrupted. To minimize the chances of scarring, it is IMPORTANT that you follow all post-treatment instructions carefully.
EYE EXPOSURE – Protective eyewear (shields) will be provided. It is important to keep these shields on at all times during the treatment in order to protect your eyes from accidental laser exposure.
Laser hair removal can be a very effective procedure, but because it is a medical service, there exists quite a bit of variability. The goal of the laser treatment is to treat hair that is in the anagen phase.
Although we would like all the hair to be in the anagen phase, this will be unlikely Only about 10-20% of hair is in the active growing phase. This means that your session will only effectively treat 20%.
This leaves the matter of when the frequency should be. This can vary and your health professional will have a recommendation based on your hair growth. From experience, this can range from 4 weeks all the way up to 10 weeks.
The amount of hair that falls out at each session of laser hair removal can vary. Hairs grow in 3 different phases, and laser hair removal is effective against hairs in the growing phase. If the hairs are in the correct phase, they should be permanently reduced.
Some hairs can be ejected from the follicle immediately, while some can continue to grow and fall out over the next few weeks. We usually recommend neck and face treatments to be done every 4 weeks and any body area below the neck every 6 weeks so that the hairs will hopefully be in the correct phase for laser hair reduction. Some treatments will yield a lot of hair removal while others will result in very little hair removal. It just depends on the phase of growth.
Shaving has earned this mythical reputation because natural hair left alone has a soft tip and has been exposed to light for a while, making it potentially lighter in color.
Newly grown shaving stubble has a blunt end from the previous shave, and is just emerging into the light of day so it is as dark as it will ever be.
It is best to shave the day before or the day of your treatment. Use a fresh razor with shaving cream to avoid razor burn. Shaving during your appointment can lead to cuts and razor irritation due to a dry shave, and is not recommended.
Laser Hair Removal Vs. Electrolysis – Which is Best?
Laser hair removal is not permanent. Electrolysis can be permanent.
Laser hair removal covers large areas much quicker. Electrolysis treats one follicle at a time.
Laser hair removal only works for dark hairs. Electrolysis is color blind.
Laser hair removal requires multiple treatment spaced apart by 4 weeks. Electrolysis kills the hair follicle upon treatment once.
Both have the potential to scar.
It is safe to use any type of hair removal, waxing plucking etc. any time 5 days or more after the laser treatment. The worry is any redness or irritation directly related to the laser treatment itself.
Remember if you plan on having more laser treatments do not pluck or wax for several weeks before the treatment as you want the hair in the follicle to be treated. Shaving or cutting with a scissors is fine.
Yes, you can have itchiness and swelling the first few treatments. It is very common to have redness as a side effect. Patients can use aloe vera to soothe it and take down the inflammation. Shaving will irritate the area as with continued laser treatments you get.
After laser hair removal, it is usually recommended to avoid sun exposure for at least 7-10 days. This will reduce the chance of complications.
Sun avoidance and sunblock use are recommended in general while doing laser hair removal treatments to minimize the risk of side effects such as burns and pigment changes because tanned skin can be more prone to complications with laser hair removal.
Laser Hair Removal has the same risks for teenagers as it does for adults over 18 years old. With a parental consent, teens can be treated for unwanted hair with safe lasers and professionals trained with the technology.
The importance of sun avoidance and sunscreens is imperative to prevent skin discolorations and burns before and after laser treatments.
With continued treatments, most patients do not have to worry about excess hair growth between treatments. However, if you do need to remove hair, it is imperative not to wax or tweeze.
The laser energy targets the hair root, and waxing and tweezing eliminate the root. It is fine, however, to shave between treatments. In fact, if your hair is long, shaving before a treatment can allow for a more effective treatment.
On average, it takes 5-8 treatment sessions to achieve permanent hair reduction. The frequency of sessions depends on the body area treated.
It is safe and very common to have laser hair removal in the bikini area as well as other areas of your upper and lower legs. It is best to avoid the sun immediately before and after treatment, however.
Laser hair removal is sometimes over promised as being “permanent” and that “you will never have to shave, wax, tweeze, etc.” ever again – it’s just not possible. Single hairs may be permanently removed if the follicle is destroyed.
That single follicle will not regrow. However, the best you can expect from laser hair removal treatments is 70% – 80% of the hairs to be totally removed. The remaining hairs should be more fine, thin, and lighter in color.
Additionally, over time, your body will develop new hair follicles, so new hair growth will occur. This is why it’s recommended that after the initial 6 treatments, you undergo maintenance treatments every 4-6 months so that new hairs are targeted.
So to answer your question briefly – yes, SINGLE hairs are permanently removed. 100% total removal of all hairs is impossible.
Burns are always a risk that is inherent when using lasers. If the laser health professional, settings, and appropriate protocols are followed, burns are a rare occurrence. Burns typically happen when setting are too high relative to the skin type.
Patients with darker skin are more prone to burns during treatment. However, health professionals will typically render a test spot prior to a full treatment. If the test spot burns, then the treatment may not be rendered.
If you think you may have been burned by the laser, we highly recommend to schedule a follow up within 24-48 hours. Most facilities will perform follow ups at no cost. We also recommend that photos be taken to document the treated areas. Photos are good because the symptoms may disappear by the time the follow up occurs.
Patients may sometimes experience a form of folliculitis. This can appear as white heads, blisters, and inflammation around the hair follicle.
I did not feel any pain or discomfort during my treatment, did it work?
Pain and discomfort is very typical of a laser hair removal treatment. It should feel like a rubber band snap along with some heat. The lighter the hair or less the hair, the less the pain may be.
Some providers may use ice packs, cold air, or numbing agents to minimize the discomfort. We recommend to mention this to your health professional as the energy may be to low for your skin type.
Yes. Laser hair removal may help reduce the size of the pore by eliminating the hair follicle.
I received laser hair removal on my beard a few years ago. My beard is now patchy. Is there anything I can do to regrow my beard?
Unfortunately, it can be challenging to regrow hair to the density it was once before your laser hair removal sessions. In order regrow your hair, you may need to visit a hair restoration expert.
Common areas that women receive laser hair removal are: the upper lip, underarms, bikini line, legs and arms. The most common areas for men for laser hair removal are: back, shoulders, chest and abdomen.
Still have more questions? We have answers. Get in touch with us to schedule your free consultationand find out if laser hair removal is right for you!
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