What is Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is one of the most popular skin treatments available today. Man or woman, we all have unwanted hair, somewhere on our body. After a while, you get tired of tweezing, shaving, bleaching, and waxing. In some cases, it’s painful. And it never ends, does it? That unwanted or excessive hair just keeps growing back. Creams and other “remedies” don’t work.
Laser hair removal gives you control over unwanted or excessive hair growth. It can save you time and frustration and give you smoother skin. Long term. This procedure can target precise or broad areas, virtually anywhere on your body. The procedure is non-invasive, fast, and FDA-approved.
Unwanted hair can be caused by genetic, environmental, or medicinal factors. In the hands of a skilled professional, gentle lasers can be used to target and neutralize individual hair follicles. This in-office procedure is both safe and effective, so you can use it to get rid of hair on your face, chest, arms and armpits, shoulders, back, bikini line and pubic areas, buttocks, legs, feet and hands — even tiny areas like the upper lip, earlobes, and toes.
Laser hair removal treatment combines well with other non-surgical procedures and skin-care products that are designed to give your skin a smoother, more youthful, healthy glow.
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
Waxing literally pulls hairs out by the roots, which is why it hurts so much. And since the hair grows right back, you have to repeat this tortuous process over and over again, frequently. Ouch!
Lasers kill hair follicles so they do not continue to produce new hairs. They use intense, precisely targeted beams of light or heat to do that, seeking out the melanin (pigment) within each follicle. The word laser is actually an acronym that stands for Light Applied by Stimulated Radiation. So, technically, they irradiate the hair follicles in a highly controlled way. (This is why it is so important to make sure the person performing your laser hair removal is an expert in using laser devices.)
Hair presents a special challenge, however, in that it grows in cycles. It’s a three-phase process, and at any given time, some of your hair is at each phase – growing, shedding, or resting. That wouldn’t matter, except that lasers can kill only follicles which are actively growing. Since we can eradicate only some of your hair with each treatment, it takes multiple sessions to achieve maximum results.
You will likely need between 3 and 8 sessions total, depending on your skin and hair characteristics and the specific area being treated. We usually schedule sessions a month or so apart, which gives your skin time to calm between treatments.
Wondering about the procedure itself?
Here’s what happens during a typical treatment session:
- We will trim the hair in the treatment area so it’s very short.
- We will tailor the settings on the laser to match the type of area being treated as well as your personal hair color, skin color, and thickness.
- We may apply a numbing or cooling agent before starting.
- We will also give you eye protection to wear during the procedure.
In just minutes (or about an hour if we’re doing your entire back), you’re on your way. Over the next several days, hairs will fall out from treated follicles, leaving smooth skin in their place. As you undergo additional treatments, more follicles will be killed and more hairs will fall out, until your skin is entirely smooth and hair-free.
You can shave if you want to between treatment sessions. The laser works beneath the skin’s surface, so it won’t matter if there’s stubble on top or not.
It’s a long-term solution
Through laser hair removal, you can remedy unappealing or unwanted hair, giving you the pleasure of aesthetically-pleasing, smooth skin without having to undergo an invasive procedure. In addition, since you can determine the schedule and target areas for your treatment, laser hair removal is always a custom procedure. It’s about giving you maximum control and confidence in your appearance.
Although we often refer to laser hair removal as a “permanent” solution, this isn’t quite true. While results are certainly impressive and very long-lasting, eventually a few fine hairs may reappear. This is easily remedied with a “refresher” treatment.
It takes more than one session to achieve optimal results, because the laser works only on active follicles. Hair grows in cycles, and not all hairs are on the same cycle, so multiple treatments are needed to effectively target those that are currently active. The number of sessions and the timing varies for each individual, but typically you will need 3-7 treatments to achieve optimal results.
Unlike waxing, you don’t need to grow hair out before or between sessions. It’s OK to shave, too, because the laser targets follicles below the surface.
Is Laser Hair Removal Safe?
You want laser hair removal to be effective. But nothing is worth putting yourself at risk. Safety comes first. We cannot stress enough the importance of using a qualified, certified medical provider for laser services of any kind. Training and experience dictate the quality of your results and protect your personal health. When performed by Dr. Raval or one of our paramedical aestheticians, laser hair removal is quite safe and after-effects are minimal.
Nonetheless, to be sure your skin will tolerate the procedure well, we always test a small area first. If results are good, as they are in the majority of cases, we can schedule your first appointment.
Because your safety is always our top priority, we use eye protection for patients as well as ourselves, especially when working on or near the face. This is because lasers emit high intensity light that could injure your eyes or vision.
There are some minor side effects associated with laser hair removal, though they are temporary. They include:
- Mild irritation, redness or swelling in the treatment area. Even though we typically use topical numbing or cooling during the procedure to reduce discomfort, you may feel as if you have a slight sunburn afterward. This won’t last long, and you can put a cool compress of ice pack on it, if you want.
- Discoloration. At first, lighter skin may appear slightly darker, or darker skin may appear lighter.
- Skin crusting. Occasionally, the treated area may appear slightly crusty.
- Infection. Because the laser works below the skin’s surface, there is a small risk of infection. This shouldn’t be a worry if follow your post-procedure skin care instructions.
- Blisters or burns. Side effects like this (or worse) can be a real risk when lasers are used by someone who is under-trained or inexperienced.
Types of Laser Hair Removal
Lasers are the ultimate in self-improvement. They are so versatile, when it comes to hair removal we can treat virtually any part of your body. Anywhere, nose to toes. What does that mean? Well, for one thing, men can reap the benefits of smooth skin, just as women can. It’s more comfortable, and if you’re into sports such as swimming or biking, going hair-free can make a significant difference in your performance.
So, laser hair removal can do a lot more for you than you might have realized. Let’s take a closer look.
Hairy legs are a cultural no-no for American women, so you spend countless hours (and dollars) on various methods of achieving smooth, hair-free legs. The results are purely temporary, and often not as lovely as you wanted, especially if you nick yourself or miss a spot. We won’t even dwell on the pure pain of waxing. If you have dark hair, the stubble is no pretty sight, either. No wonder you’re considering laser hair removal.
Always-smooth legs make life easier. You won’t have to waste time in the shower shaving. And you’ll never have to worry that you forgot to shave, so you’re ready for full exposure on a moment’s notice, even in summer.
Underarm & Arms
And speaking of full exposure, summer tank tops and sundresses call for perfect underarms. As with your legs, laser hair removal means never having to worry you forgot to shave. You can forget ingrown hairs and razor burn. You can apply deodorant or antiperspirant without risking an itchy, rashy reaction. You’re so smooth.
Some women also have noticeable arm hair, especially if it’s longer or a darker color. Laser hair removal isn’t only for armpits, it can smooth your appearance all the way down to your hands.
Now we’re really talking about full exposure, depending on the type of swimwear you prefer (and also your personal hygiene preferences). Thanks to laser hair removal, you can customize your bikini line however you like, including no hairline at all. And, men, take note. Laser hair removal for your most private areas is no longer just for women.
The three most common public area options are:
- Regular bikini. This is the traditional panty-line pattern that removes hair only where it might be visible when you’re wearing a classic bikini bottom – inner and upper thighs, along the groin, below your navel, as needed.
- Brazilian. This is the whole enchilada, hair removal that leaves you bare front to back in your public/genital area. No matter how minuscule your bikini bottom, nothing will be revealed except your silky smooth skin.
- Australian. This is the in-between pattern that leaves hair in front but none “down under.” We can tailor the shape of remaining hair in front however you like, and of course the entire area is tidied up for a smooth, precise look.
Thinking of going all the way? Keep in mind that, though the Brazilian is extremely popular now, trends can change. But your hair will still be gone.
Back (and Backside)
A hairy back doesn’t look smooth, in more ways than one, and it can be downright uncomfortable. You’re too warm and sweaty in summer, your shirts don’t fit comfortably, you know what we mean. Or perhaps you have just a few random hairs on your back, or the hair is concentrated in a smaller area such as your shoulders. No matter how flexible you are, there is no way you can shave your own back or apply warm wax or depilatory creams. You could ask your spouse or a friend for help, but seeking professional help for laser hair removal is the better plan.
And then there’s your buttocks. Women as well as men can have hair on their bottom, but laser treatments can put an end to that.
Chest & Abdomen
Even if you aren’t a sports or body-building enthusiast, an increasing number of men now prefer a smooth, hairless check and abdomen. Or, perhaps all you want is less hair if yours is excessive. With laser-like precision, we can address the front of your torso to achieve whatever look you want.
Women, too, can have errant hairs on their chest (particularly around the nipples), or on their abdomen (often in a little trail than runs down into your bikini line). Shaving, waxing, etc. are unthinkable here. Need we say more?
Most men love shaving their face about as much as women love shaving their legs. So, why do it? Laser hair removal can give you smoother (consistently smoother) skin, 24/7. No more 5 o’clock shadow. No more bumps or bloody nicks. You’ll look professional and be eminently kissable. Laser hair removal is also ideal if you want to lose only some of your facial hair. You can keep your beard, mustache, goatee, soul patch or whatever personalized look you have going, confident your face and upper nick look well-groomed at all times.
Ladies, we’re talking to you, too. Visible hair on your upper lip, chin, or “sideburns” won’t do. And that all-over peach fuzz may not be so visible, but it can make you feel self-conscious anyway, and it interferes with your makeup. There’s a solution for that.
Man or woman, laser hair removal can also tidy up your hairline on the back of your neck, so you always look trim between haircuts. And it can eliminate that embarrassing unibrow (and even help reshape your eyebrows) so you look trim above your eyes as well.
No spot is too small for our laser. We can eliminate hair on the backs of your hands, the tops of your feet and toes. We can also get rid of hairs around the inside edge of your nostrils, as well as embarrassing nose and ear hairs that seem to come out of nowhere as we get older.
Note that, even for tiny areas, you will likely need more than one treatment to get all the hair, due to the variance in growth cycles.
What are the Benefits of Laser Hair Removal?
The primary benefit of laser hair removal is that you don’t have to keep doing it endlessly for the rest of your life. You can say sayonara to shaving, plucking, waxing, creams, nicks and cuts, bumpy red skin, and all that other stuff. That’s totally worth it! But as a procedure, laser hair removal offers benefits beyond a great end result.
- Lasers are precise. They zero in on pigment inside hair follicles, without damaging surrounding cells. That’s why we can treat tiny areas such as nostrils, ears, and toes.
- Lasers work quickly. Busy life? No problem. Most patients can pop in on their lunch hour if that’s the only opening in their schedule.
- There is no downtime. Not only can you get a treatment on your lunch hour, you can go right back to work – or whatever else you have planned. Your skin in the treated area may feel slightly sunburned, but that won’t keep you from making your appointed rounds. (We do recommend you not head directly to the gym for a major workout. It’s best to give your skin a chance to relax first, otherwise the increased blood flow will exacerbate the sunburned feeling.)
- The treatments are not painful. Yes, they could be described as somewhat uncomfortable, but you truly can gain without the pain.
Any hairs that do grow back later are likely to be finer and lighter in color.
Results: Before & After
Pictures don’t lie, as they say. You can read about laser hair removal and what it can supposedly do for you, but the best way to get realistic expectations about potential results is to look at our before and after photos. By doing that, you can see each person’s initial hair challenge and compare that to their post-treatment appearance.
You can find lots of photos online, but we encourage you to check out our Raval photo gallery. That way, you get more than a generic impression of possible results, you can see actual results our own patients have achieved – at the hands of our own laser hair removal professionals.
It’s easy to see how much better their skin looks. If only you could reach into your computer and feel how smooth their skin feels in the “after” photos!
What is the Best Time for Laser Hair Removal?
You can get started on laser hair removal any time. (We will do a small test areas first, to be sure your skin is a good match for the procedure.) However, depending on what part of your body you want treated, winter may be the best time to start. Here’s why.
The laser works best when it can see easily detect the pigment in hair follicles. That requires noticeable contrast between the colors of your skin and hair. Tanning during the summer reduces contrast, making the laser less efficient. In addition, it takes several treatment sessions to achieve optimal results because of the way your hair grows in cycles. So if you are looking to eliminate hair in any area that is typically exposed to the sun, or that you will want to expose to the sun, it will take a few months to see final results.
Is Laser Hair Removal Painful?
What could be more painful than waxing?! Seriously, although we can’t say you won’t notice the laser working during your hair removal procedure, we can say it isn’t painful. Most patients describe it as something like being snapped with a rubber band. To make you as comfortable as possible, we typically apply a topical numbing agent prior to starting the treatment – or, in some cases, the laser we are using has a built-in cooling system that soothes the skin’s surface.
You will probably experience some minimal discomfort for a little while after the procedure, but it shouldn’t be more bothersome than a mild sunburn, and it’s only temporary.
What’s really painful is all the gyrations you’re going through now (not to mention the expense), whether you’re saving, plucking, or waxing. It reminds us of that cliché that says if you keep on doing the same thing, you’ll get the same results. With laser hair removal, you can move past the pain of knicks, ingrown hairs, ugly stubble, wasted time and money.
Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent?
You often read that laser hair removal is a permanent alternative to other options from shaving and waxing to depilatory creams. And, compared to those things it is virtually permanent. Once you have completed the recommended series of treatments, you won’t have to keep treating the same area, often and endlessly, forever.
However, it is possible for some hairs to regrow in the future. If that happens, we can zap them with a fresh laser treatment and your skin will be consistently smooth once again. But, technically, that makes laser hair removal not permanent. On the other hand, given the choice, would you really prefer to keep shaving or whatever permanently, or would you opt for significant, long term hair reduction?
Electrolysis versus Laser Hair Removal
Electrolysis and laser hair removal are your only options if you’re looking for long-term elimination of unwanted hair. In fact, electrolysis is the only method endorsed by the Food and Drug Administration as permanent. (Most people consider laser treatment to be permanent, but there is always a chance that a few hairs can regrow at some point in the future, requiring a “refresher” treatment.)
So what’s the difference between the two?
- Laser devices use a beam of intense, precisely-targeted light or heat to kill hair follicles. The electrolysis process kills hair follicles by delivering chemical, heat (electrical), or shortwave radio frequency energy via a very tiny probe inserted into the follicle.
- Electrolysis is appropriate for most parts of the body; laser hair removal can be used virtually everywhere.
- Laser hair removal can be treat any size area in a single session. Electrolysis cannot treat larger areas such as the back or chest in a single session.
- Electrolysis is safe and effective for all skin types and colors. Laser hair removal is not effective for some people whose skin and hair color don’t offer enough contrast.
- Both techniques offer fast treatment sessions, depending on the size of the area being treated.
- Both require multiple sessions to assure optimal results, but with electrolysis you will need more sessions.
- Laser treatments are more convenient -- usually scheduled 3-4 weeks apart -- whereas electrolysis sessions are scheduled weekly or bi-weekly.
- Both treatment options have mild after-effects -- generally slight, temporary redness or irritation – but the risk of infection is somewhat greater with electrolysis because needles are used.
Which type of treatment is best for you depends on your skin and hair, your aesthetic goals, your available time commitment, and – ultimately – your personal preference.
At-Home Laser Hair Removal
DIY has its place, but there are some things you should simply never do yourself. At-home laser hair removal is one of them. Yes, you can buy various over-the-counter devices to use at home, but here’s the thing.
These tools are not tested or controlled by the FDA, so you cannot be assured of their safety or quality. These tools are not at all the same as medical-grade devices used by board-certified cosmetic surgeons, dermatologists, and medical aestheticians that work under their direct supervision. You cannot get the same results. Most importantly, you can easily (and seriously) injure yourself because, no matter how they are packaged, lasers are dangerous if they aren’t used properly.
It’s tempting to try at-home devices because they are available and they are cheaper. But in this case, the risks greatly outweigh the potential benefits. Aside from the safety issues, at-home laser hair removal takes far more time than professional treatments. The tools work slowly, and the discomfort means most people have to take breaks. Because the device is less efficient, you’ll also need to give yourself more treatments overall to achieve the results you want.
In our professional opinion, it makes more sense to treat yourself to the safest, best quality laser hair removal possible, and economize in some other way.
How Much Does Laser Hair Removal Cost?
Because there are so many different types of laser hair removal and every patient’s treatment plan is different, there is no “standard fee” for this procedure. However, we can give you some idea of costs. In general, fees are based on:
- Location of the area being treated (some areas are more challenging than others)
- Size of the area being treated (which determines the time required for the procedure)
- The number of treatments recommended for optimal results
- Who is performing the procedure (Dr. Raval or one of our certified technicians)
Here are a few examples:
- Glabella (the area between your eyebrows) runs $100 per treatment
- Back and shoulders for men runs $300-$600 per treatment
- Full legs for men or women runs $550-$900 per treatment
- Regular bikini runs $150 per treatment for women, $200 per treatment for men
Naturally, we will discuss pricing with you during your personal consultation. At that point, we’ll be able to see your skin up close as well as learn more about your concerns and goals. You will know in advance the full cost of your laser hair removal treatment plan so you can make a fully informed decision about moving forward.
What is the Downtime of Laser Hair Removal?
There is no downtime following laser hair removal treatments. In rare cases, there may be some blistering, which is more likely to occur in people with dark skin. Typically, your skin will look and feel slightly sunburned for a day or two, but this can be alleviated with moisturizers or a cold compress. You will be advised to wait a day before using makeup.
You should always wear sunscreen when going outdoors – always. This is even more important following a laser hair removal treatment, because the sun’s UV rays can cause discoloration of the treated area. It would be temporary, but it’s easier and better to avoid the risk.
Who is a Good Candidate for Laser Hair Removal?
When it comes to skin and hair colors, people run the gamut, from tow-blond fair with very pale skin to blue-black hair and ebony skin, and myriad gradations in between. Our ethnic background determines whether our skin and hair colors almost match or contrast sharply with one another. These things make us unique, but they can also directly affect whether you are a good candidate for laser hair removal.
Because the laser targets pigment, it must be able to “see” the pigment and distinguish it from surrounding skin. Therefore, the procedure works best on patients with dark, coarse hair and fair skin. If your hair and skin are both dark – or both are light – there may not be enough contrast to achieve desired results. In the past, laser hair removal was out of the question for those with gray, white, or very blond hair, but recent advancements have improved laser technology.
We invite you to learn more
Every person has somewhat different skin, hair, medical history, lifestyle, and aesthetic goals that are uniquely your own. Treatment details, results, and potential side effects are also highly individual. This is why scheduling an in-person consultation is the best way to learn whether or not laser hair removal is right for you.
During your private conversation with Dr. Raval or one of our Paramedical Aestheticians, you can learn more about the pros and cons of laser hair removal treatments. They can evaluate your skin and discuss your goals, and they can perform a test procedure to predict your specific results. Then we can recommend a personally-tailored treatment plan.
Choosing the Right Laser Hair Removal Specialist
Trust is crucial when you’re considering laser hair removal. As we have noted, this should be considered is a medical procedure, not a spa or salon treatment. It takes extensive training and experience to perform laser treatments safely and effectively. So it’s important to know that laser hair removal clinics are not all the same, regardless of marketing hype. Choosing the best-qualified, most experienced provider ensures you get the safest, most comfortable experience.
How can you find the right specialist?
- Talk to friends and relatives who have first-hand experience
- Read online reviews of medical professionals, but focus on their credentials and experience with laser hair removal
- Once you’ve picked a few potential favorites, check out their websites in detail – you’ll learn more about the procedure and get an overall feeling for the provider and the practice
- Schedule a face-to-face meeting
Choosing the right laser hair removal specialist also ensures you get the best results possible. Laser equipment is not all the same – even sophisticated medical grade devices differ because they are designed to address different types of skin conditions. So it also takes training and skill to know which device and settings are exactly right for each person’s skin and treatment objectives.
At Rocky Mountain Laser Aesthetics, Dr. Raval and our Paramedical Aestheticians are all highly trained and up to date on the latest laser skin treatments and techniques, including unwanted hair reduction. Our focus is on providing natural looking results in a comfortable, caring environment. It’s our commitment to training, safety, and comfort that enables us to successfully tailor treatments to each patient.
Is laser hair removal worth it? A resounding 94% of RealSelf reviewers say “totally!” This procedure is non-surgical, non-invasive, fast, easy, and it’s highly effective for a wide range of men and women. No wonder it’s one of the most-requested (and fastest-growing) skin rejuvenation procedures available.
Laser hair removal can be a superior solution whether you have just a tiny area that needs attention or you’re looking for a broad-scale makeover that leaves your skin uniformly smooth, long term. Is it right for you? If you’ve read this far, you know that is a question only you can answer. If you’re ready to learn more, it’s time to schedule a private consultation.