It’s that time of year again: The weather is getting warmer, and we are happily unpacking our shorts, dresses, and swimsuits. Especially for those who have been working out all fall and winter, it’s time to show off your hard work. Most of us are also looking for ways to get smoother skin. 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 sugar-based wax, while others attempted to make razors using shells. Ouch! Fortunately, today we have more advanced methods for hair removal, including lasers. Keep reading to learn more about this procedure to find out how 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 a principle called photothermolysis to inhibit hair growth. A type of laser called intense pulsed light, or IPL, passes through the skin and into the hair shaft. The pigment in your hair absorbs the high-energy light from the laser, which damages the hair follicles, inhibiting their ability to grow new hair in the future.
Over time, the hair follicles become weaker, causing new hair to grow in thinner and lighter. This process may require multiple treatments; depending on your hair growth cycle, it can take three to ten sessions for optimal results. Laser hair removal is safe because it targets only the hair follicles, avoiding damage to the surrounding skin.
Are You A Good Candidate?
For the best results with laser hair removal, you should have some contrast between the color of your hair and the color of your skin. The best candidates for this procedure have lighter skin and dark hair. The lasers do not work as well for blonde, red, or gray hair, as the light has a more difficult time “seeing” these hair colors.
As this technology has improved, it is now more effective on people with darker skin tones. If you have darker skin and are considering laser hair removal, be sure to choose a medical professional who has experience working on patients with your skin type.
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, underarms, and legs. Many men who choose this procedure have it done on their chest, back, beard, and shoulders. However, it’s possible to target unwanted hair in nearly any area.
Steps to Take Before Your Treatment
After you schedule your appointment with a board-certified doctor who has has experience and training with this procedure, there are a few things you will need to keep in mind to prepare for your first session. You will not be able to wax or pluck hair in your desired treatment area six weeks before your first laser removal session. That is because waxing and plucking involve removal of the root, 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
When you arrive for your laser hair removal session, we’ll give you a specially designed pair of protective glasses to wear during treatment. To ensure your comfort during the procedure, we may also apply a topical anesthetic to the areas being treated. We will then adjust the laser for your unique treatment area, hair thickness and color, and skin color. After trimming the hair in the area being treated, we will apply a cool gel to protect your skin and to help the laser penetrate more thoroughly. Then, we will guide the handheld laser over the skin in the specified treatment areas. Depending on the areas where you want to remove unwanted hair, each session may take between 10 minutes to several hours.
After Your Laser Hair Removal
Following your session, you may apply an anti-inflammatory cream or an ice pack to relieve any lingering discomfort. Some patients have reported their skin looked red and felt slightly irritated for several hours to days after their treatment. These are normal side effects to expect. Using moisturizers, aloe, or cold compresses may help reduce these uncomfortable symptoms. We’ll schedule a follow-up appointment, usually within four to six weeks after your treatment. If necessary, we’ll perform another round of laser hair removal during this session.
Depending on how much hair you are hoping to remove, as well as your skin tone and hair color, you will probably need a series of treatments spaced several weeks apart to achieve your desired outcome. After every treatment, you will notice a gradual lessening of hair.
Is Laser Hair Removal Painful?
Of all the questions people ask about laser hair removal, this is one of the most common. The answer is that it varies, since everyone has a different pain threshold. Most people who have experienced the treatment liken the sensation to a rubber band snapping against their skin. However, others report it is more uncomfortable than they had anticipated. If you know you are particularly sensitive to pain, be sure to talk with your doctor about your options and ask for a topical anesthetic to help make your treatment session more tolerable.
Advantages of Laser Hair Removal
In addition to saving you time on your personal hygiene routine, laser hair removal has several key benefits.
1. Changes hair’s texture for the better: Laser hair removal is unlike some other hair removal techniques that encourage your hair to grow back in darker or coarser. Over time, you’ll see any new hair begin coming in finer and lighter, until it is gone for good.
2. Can be effective on all skin tones: In the past, older lasers worked less efficiently on people with tanned or naturally darker skin tones. However, laser technology has improved to the point that laser hair removal can provide good results even for people with more melanin in their skin.
3. Improves self-esteem: How many times have you felt embarrassed to wear swimsuits, shorts, or tank tops in warm weather shaving or waxing seemed like too much of a hassle? Laser hair removal gets rid of unwanted hair, freeing you to wear more revealing clothing whenever you like.
Results to Expect From Laser Hair Removal
If you’ve been dealing with undesirable body hair since reaching puberty, you are already all too familiar with all the annoyances it can bring – including cuts, irritated skin, and ingrown hairs. Worst of all, the hair keeps growing back, which forces you to spend more of your time maintaining it.
As many of our patients have discovered, laser hair removal is an easy, safe way to slow unwanted hair growth and leave you with irresistibly smooth, touchable skin. 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 do 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. Let’s say goodbye to shaving and waxing!