LASER HAIR REMOVAL
This medical procedure uses a laser that sends out a powerful focused beam of light to remove unwanted hair from virtually any part of your body, i.e., the upper lip and face, underarms, bikini lines, as well as the neck, back, legs, arms and stomach. During laser hair removal, a laser beam passes through the skin to the hair follicles. The intense heat of the laser damages the follicles, which inhibits future hair growth. Laser hair removal is most effective for people who have light skin and dark hair. It typically takes multiple laser hair removal treatments, about six weeks apart to provide an extended hair-free period. Periodic maintenance treatments may be needed as well.
WHAT TO EXPECT?
Laser hair removal is an increasingly popular non-invasive cosmetic procedure that reduces hair growth. It is precise since lasers can selectively target dark hairs while leaving the surrounding skin undamaged. In addition, each pulse of the laser takes a fraction of a second and can treat many hairs at the same time. A variety of spot sizes are available to treat different target areas, ranging from a quarter inch to several inches every second. Small areas such as the upper lip can be treated in less than a minute, and large areas, such as the back or legs, may take up to an hour. Since hair grows in several phases and a laser can only affect the currently active growing hair follicles, several sessions are needed to treat hair in all phases of growth.
Before treatment, avoid removing hair from the area to be treated by the roots (plucking, waxing, and electrolysis) for six weeks. You may shave to manage growth since these products only remove hair above the skin. You should avoid sun exposure for at least two weeks before and after treatment. Sun exposure makes laser hair removal less effective and makes complications after treatment more likely. The area to be treated should be free of make-up, perfumes, lotions, creams, and/or antiperspirants. If necessary, you can remove these applications in the exam room prior to treatment. You must advise us of any medications you are taking or have taken in the past six months that increase sensitivity to light. Examples include several antibiotic and antifungal medications as well as Accutane (isotretinoin). Post treatment, we recommend use of an aloe vera gel for cooling. In addition, a topical anesthetic cream such as lidocaine or Biafine may be prescribed for follow up care.
Just before the procedure, the hair undergoing treatment will be trimmed to a few millimeters above the skin surface. The laser equipment will be adjusted according to the color, thickness, and location of the hair and your skin color. You and the provider will wear appropriate eye protection. There is a special cooling device built within the laser head, which helps the laser light penetrate the skin and reduce discomfort. A test pulse to the treatment area is done and observed to confirm the settings before proceeding. Once completed, you will be given ice packs in the office to ease discomfort.
The timing of your follow up visits will be discussed at the completion of your treatment. The number of treatments needed depend on a number of factors, including the size of the target area, skin tone and hair density.
When you leave the office, you should be slightly red and you may see red circles in more sensitive areas of your skin. Immediate redness (erythema) is to be expected and generally goes away in a few minutes or hours but may last 24-48 hours. Post treatment, you may apply soothing creams or lotions and/or cold compresses. Oral Arnica or topical vitamin K may be used for bruising and Tylenol for pain. Typically the shedding of the treated hairs takes about two to three weeks. These hairs should be allowed to fall out on their own and should not be manipulated by the patient.
WILL IT HURT?
With each pulse of light (one per second or so) there will be a stinging sensation as the hair is heated up. It can be described as a rubber band snapping your skin or like tweezing multiple hairs at once. The discomfort is proportional to the amount of hair in the area. Initial treatments for extremely hairy areas can be more uncomfortable but this discomfort reduces with each subsequent treatment as the hair becomes more sparse. To minimize discomfort, a cooling gel is applied to the skin before treatment and the tip of the laser is also chilled just before each light beam. Ice packs are used to cool the skin following treatment.
Although laser hair removal effectively reduces hair growth, it does not guarantee permanent hair removal. It typically takes multiple laser hair removal treatments, about six weeks apart, to provide an extended hair-free period. Periodic maintenance treatments may be needed as well. Maintenance sessions will become less and less frequent as time passes.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Come in for a consultation - we will assess your needs and recommend a treatment plan to achieve your desired outcome.