Are you sick and tired of shaving? Dreading your next painful wax? Why not consider laser hair removal instead? It offers impressive benefits over either shaving or waxing, and best of all it’s virtually permanent. No wonder this in-office procedure has become one of the most frequently-requested procedures for both women and men.
We have to be honest: laser hair removal isn’t perfect. It might not be the right choice for you. So let’s look at what this procedure can and cannot do.
First, a short explanation. This procedure uses a highly-targeted beam of light – the laser – to target the pigment in your hair follicles. The pigment absorbs the light, and that kills the hairs. While this sounds wonderfully simple, it is important to remember that laser hair removal is a medical procedure, not a spa treatment. Your results and safety depend on choosing a skilled, experienced professional to perform the procedure.
The upside to Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal can be used almost anywhere on your body you have unwanted hair. That includes your face, earlobes, arms, armpits, chest, back, shoulders, buttocks, bikini line and pubic areas, hands, feet, and legs.
Lasers are precise, which is why they are used for a growing number of procedures that aim to rejuvenate skin or correct specific problems. For hair removal, this precision means targeting the follicles and hairs won’t damage the surrounding skin. It also means you can have very small areas treated – your upper lip or toes, for example – as well as larger expanses.
The procedure takes little time. The laser can treat an area about the size of a quarter every second. So your treatment may last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour.
You can save a lifetime of expense and hassle. Laser treatments are not inexpensive, but they are essentially a one-time expense. Compare that to the time and money you would spend on endless shaving supplies or paying for ongoing waxing sessions.
The downside to Laser Hair Removal
There has to be enough pigment for the laser to target. So the darker your hair, the better – as long as you don’t have dark skin, too. In this case, or if you are very fair, laser hair removal may not work well for you. Speak to a medical professional about your individual options, because new technology has enhanced the laser’s ability to “see” past the skin when targeting hair follicles.
The procedure may be less painful than waxing, but it isn’t painless. Each time the laser “fires,” patients feel a sensation they typically describe as like being snapped with a rubber band.
Laser hair removal isn’t a one-and-done procedure. As with many skin procedures, it takes the cumulative effects of repeat treatments to achieve optimal results. Most patients require somewhere between three and seven sessions for maximum hair loss. The good news is that you don’t have to grow hair out between sessions, as you do for waxing.
We tend to describe laser hair removal as a “permanent” solution, but the truth is, results are not quite 100% and they are not quite permanent. Over time, you may see regrowth of a few hairs. Generally they are finer in texture. At some point you may want another laser session to remove them. Nonetheless, compared to frequent shaving or lifelong periodic repetitions of waxing, results can definitely be considered permanent.
You can’t just pop in for an appointment. Laser hair removal doesn’t work well if you have a sunburn, or even a tan. (Remember, it targets dark areas, so contrast is important to get good results.) Along the same line, you have to forego waxing or plucking for a few weeks prior to laser hair removal. Shaving is OK, because it doesn’t remove the follicles.
Is laser hair removal right for you? Let’s find out. Online research can give you basic information, but it takes a personal consultation with a professional to get all your questions answered. So let’s talk.