It’s that time of year again, the weather is getting warmer and we are happily bringing out our shorts, dresses, and swimsuits. Especially for those that have been working out all fall and winter, it is time to show off your hard work. For most of us, it is also time for more shaving or waxing. But what if you could step up your hair removal and eliminate the need to shave or wax? Throughout history men and women have tried many different techniques for long lasting hair removal. Some cultures have tried wax created with sugar and others attempted to make razors using shells. Ouch! Although we have more advanced methods for hair removal today, there are not many options to permanently reduce hair growth. Laser hair removal is the most advanced and innovative technique available to diminish hair growth for both men and woman. Keep reading to learn more about this procedure to find out if it is right for you and if it could make your grooming routine easier.
What is Laser Hair Removal and How Does It Work?
Laser hair removal is a cosmetic procedure that uses photothermolysis to inhibit hair growth. A laser, also known as an intense pulsing beam of light or IPL, passes through the skin and into the hair shaft. At the hair follicle, it is absorbed and converted to heat energy. The intensity of the heat damages the root of the hair and hinders future hair growth. This heat can also destroy the root as well. The dark terminal, or adult, hair, is either permanently removed or is replaced with a vellus, a fine and light colored hair that is barely noticeable. The wavelength used during this treatment is absorbed by the pigments that provides color to the hair follicle. It is also meant to minimize any damage done to the skin. The hair follicle is ultimately weakened and will fall out and growth is disrupted over time. This may require multiple treatments; depending on your hair growth cycle it can take three to ten sessions for optimal results.
Are You A Good Candidate?
The best candidates for laser hair removal are patients with light skin and dark hair, as the lasers are most effective for their skin and hair type. Advances in the past few years have been made to accommodate those with darker skin. If you have darker skin and are considering laser hair removal, be sure to choose a medical professional that has experience working on patients with your skin type. This will allow them to know what lasers will work best for you. The lasers do not work well for blonde, red, or gray hair, as they are not recognized by the light. Both men and women can receive laser hair removal. Popular areas for women to have laser hair removal are the upper lip, bikini line, chin, under arms, and legs. Many men that have this procedure have it done on their chest, back, beard, and shoulders.
Steps to Take Before Your Treatment
After you find a board-certified doctor that has experience and training with this procedure and scheduling an appointment, there are a few things you will need to keep in mind to prepare for your first session. Six weeks prior to your first laser removal treatment you will not be able to wax or pluck your hair in the areas that will be treated. This is because you will be removing the root, and therefore not allowing it to be treated with a laser. Shaving is permitted as it does not damage the root. You will also want to avoid sun exposure and wear sunscreen whenever you are outside. Too much exposure to the sun can cause the laser to become ineffective and increase complications.
What to Expect During Laser Hair Removal
During your laser hair removal session you will be given a pair of protective glasses to wear during treatment. A topical anesthetic may also be applied to the areas being treated for your comfort. The laser will then be adjusted for your unique treatment area, hair thickness and color, and skin color. Then the hair in the area being treated will be trimmed and a cool gel will be applied to help the laser penetrate. This gel will also protect the outer layer of skin. The handheld laser will then be glided over the skin in the specified treatment areas. Depending on the areas where hair is being removed, each session may take between ten minutes to several hours.
After Your Laser Hair Removal
Following your session an anti-inflammatory cream and/or ice pack may be used to relieve any lingering discomfort. Some patients have reported that their skin looked red and felt irritated for several hours to days after their treatment. These are normal side effects to expect. Using moisturizers, aloe, or cold compresses may help to reduce these uncomfortable symptoms. A follow up appointment will be scheduled, usually within the four to six weeks after your treatment. Another round of laser hair removal may be performed at this time if necessary.
Is Laser Hair Removal Painful?
This is one of the most common questions that people ask about laser hair removal. Most people that have had the treatment done say that it is similar to a rubber band snapping on their skin or a bee sting. Some patients say that there is no pain at all and others report that it is intolerable. It all comes down to your personal pain tolerance. If you know that you are particularly sensitive to pain, be sure to talk with your doctor about your options and ask for a topical anesthetic to help lessen the pain.
Results to Expect from Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is proven to effectively slow the growth of hair. Although it can permanently remove hair, it is not guaranteed to do so. Results tend to vary based upon the treatment area and the patient’s hair texture. Multiple treatments usually provide longer lasting results, as does periodic maintenance sessions.
Are you ready to make your warm weather routine easier this year? Give Dr. Sinha a call today to schedule a consultation today. Let’s say goodbye to shaving and waxing!