What You Need to Know before Laser Hair Removal

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(Updated for 2019)

Laser hair removal (LHR) offers a safe, effective solution for a number of concerns and can be used anywhere on the face or body. If you’re considering LHR, here are a few things you should know ahead of time.

The follicles can only be permanently affected by laser treatment during their growth phase.

Multiple Sessions Are Required

Many people think laser hair removal delivers instant results, but that’s not quite true. The way LHR works is by targeting hair follicles with laser energy in their growth phase, which in turn damages the follicles enough that future regrowth becomes impossible.

Each hair goes through different phases during its life cycle, only one of which involves active growth. The hairs in one particular area of the body will have staggered growth cycles, otherwise, we would go bald all at once when every hair hit the shedding phase at the same time.

Because of the way hair follicles in a potential treatment area alternate life cycles, several laser hair removal sessions are required in order to ensure that every follicle is treated during the proper growth phase.

Some Skin Types See Better Results

The laser energy is attracted to the pigmentation in the hair follicle, which absorbs enough heat to kill the hair at the root. Because lasers aren’t discriminating about what type of pigmentation they’re attracted to, the combination of dark hair against light-colored skin with very little pigment typically means seeing the best results.

In patients who have fair hair and fair skin, the hair follicles lack enough pigmentation for lasers to be effective. Those men and women who have dark hair and dark skin can be candidates for laser hair removal, but it’s important to calibrate the laser wavelength and duration settings correctly to ensure that the laser energy isn’t attracted to the pigment in the skin rather than the hair follicle.

Not All Technicians Are Created Equal

Laser hair removal may seem like a straightforward enough treatment, but it’s still considered a medical procedure that requires a certain level of training to perform safely and effectively. Experience is essential for seeing the best laser hair removal results, as well as for improving patient safety, reducing the chances of side effects and ensuring a positive experience overall.

Take the time to look for a certified laser technician with years of experience performing not just laser hair removal, but all different types of laser-related treatments. The greater the familiarity with the tools at hand, the better your practitioner will know the exact approach to adopt in order to give you the results you hope for, along with answering any questions about laser hair removal that could come up along the way.

Getting Ready for Treatment

Finally, as the time gets closer for your treatment to begin, your laser technician will tell you when you need to stop plucking or waxing, and whether you should shave immediately before your first session.

You can expect some discomfort at the treatment area during your session, although this is typically minor and should improve right after your appointment. Although several sessions are necessary for the best results, it’s normal to see an improvement in the treated area almost right away.