Laser Hair Removal
What Is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal is the most high-tech long lasting hair removal option on the market. The ideal candidate for laser hair removal is someone with unwanted hair growth who has dark hair and light skin. People with lighter colored hair are not as ideal, as the laser targets melanin, which is found in significantly greater concentrations at the base of dark hairs. People with very dark or tan skin are not as ideal for laser hair removal as some of the laser energy can get absorbed by the skin pigmentation.
Laser Hair Removal Procedure
The laser emits an invisible pulsed light that is absorbed by the dark pigment at an area at the base of the hair follicle known as the bulge. This causes the base of the hair follicle to heat up and the heat destroys the hair. Hair naturally goes through three phases of growth: growth phase (anagen), resting phase (catagen) and shedding phase (telogen). In any area in which hair grows, there will be some hairs in each of the three phases. During the growth phase, anagen, the bulge at the base of the hair follicle enlarges. This area has the greatest concentration of the pigment melanin.
When the bulge is larger, more laser light is absorbed by the melanin. This results in more heating at the base of the hair follicle which results in more effective removal of the hair. This explains why multiple sessions of laser hair removal are necessary to remove most of the hair; only the actively growing hair can be targeted and removed when those bulges are filled with the dark melanin pigment. Once the dormant or sleeping hairs begin their growth cycle, they too can be treated with laser hair removal.
popular areas treated with laser hair removal
Laser hair removal is the ideal method for treating large areas of the body because it targets multiple hair follicles at a time. By contrast, electrolysis treats only a single hair at a time. Laser hair removal treatments may take anywhere from a matter of minutes up to an hour depending upon the size of the treatment area. The Lumenis LightSheer Duet laser has two separate sized laser heads making it ideal for treating and refining smaller areas such as the lip, chin, sideburn and pubic areas as well as treating larger areas such as the legs, arms, armpits, back and neck quickly with relatively little discomfort.
The lips, chin, sideburns, pubic areas and armpits are extremely popular. Arms and legs are favorites with both female and male patients, and, of course, the back, chest and abdomen are also frequently requested by our male patients.
How many sessions of laser hair removal will be needed?
Generally, three to six sessions will effectively obliterate most of the unwanted hairs. This can vary from one person to another depending upon your skin and hair type. There is the occasional patient who is relatively more resistant to laser hair removal. If successful, the hairs that are destroyed by the laser will not come back. Hairs which are not growing at the time of the treatment will not be affected by laser hair removal.
How long does a laser hair removal session take?
The length of your session depends on where you are having hair removed. For instance, the sideburns or the upper lip take only a few minutes. Both underarms will probably take less than 15 minutes. The legs can take up to 30-45 minutes.
Can I have multiple areas treated in one session?
Yes, we can treat different areas of your face and body in a single treatment. Most of our patients have more than one area they’d like to get rid of hair, so this makes it more convenient.
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Is there anything I need to do to prepare for laser hair removal?
The laser energy can most effectively target the hair when there is wide contrast between the hair color and the color of the surrounding skin. For that reason, we recommend patients avoid tanning and sun exposure before their appointments. Here is a list of our recommendations prior to your laser sessions at Dr. Schaffer’s:
- Avoid sun exposure — As mentioned above, contrast is important, so if you have a tan, you need to let it fade before coming in for your session. We advise patients to avoid any sun exposure on the areas with unwanted hair for 4-6 weeks prior to their session.
- Avoid plucking, waxing, and electrolysis — We need the hair to be actively anchored in the follicles. Certain things you do such as plucking, waxing, and electrolysis all disturb the hair follicle, so you cannot do these for at least a month prior to your session. Shaving is fine, as it doesn’t affect hair in the follicle.
- Clean your skin — The treatment areas need to be free from cosmetics, lotions, and creams. If you’ve applied deodorant and are having your underarms treated, we will remove it prior to your session.
- Certain skincare products — Certain anti-aging skincare products such as alphahydroxy acid, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and others can cause irritation when interacting with the laser energy. We’ll tell you which skincare products to stop using before your appointment.
What if I wait too long between treatments?
Multiple sessions are needed to remove the amount of hair most patients seek, but this isn’t tied to a time schedule. As discussed above, each of the five million or so hairs on the human body operates independently of the others, moving through the phases of the growth cycle. The goal is to catch as many unwanted hairs as possible when they are in the anagen/growth phase, as this is when the laser energy has the most impact on the hair follicle. That’s why multiple sessions are necessary — to catch more and more hair in the growth phase.
People can misunderstand this to mean there is a necessary timeframe, but that’s not the case. During every session some hairs will be in the right phase and others won’t be. It’s good to schedule a series of appointments simply for the purpose of removing more and more hair permanently with each session; that way you’ll see results more quickly than if you only come in infrequently.
Is laser hair removal truly permanent?
We have five million hairs on our bodies (men have a few hundred thousand more than women) and, unfortunately, each operates independently. That means every hair can be in a different phase of the growth cycle. This is important to the success of laser hair removal because lasers only damage hair in the anagen (growth) cycle. But hairs can also be in the catagen (transitional phase between growth and rest) or the telogen phase (resting). The catagen and telogen phases involve stopping nourishment to the hair, shedding it, and restarting a new hair shaft. That’s why lasers don’t affect hair in these phases; they’re already on their way out. And the laser energy can’t get into the follicle to damage it.
Second, damaged follicles can rebuild with hormonal changes. Plus, if a follicle is only partially damaged, it may heal and begin to regrow hair.
The FDA approval is for “permanent hair reduction.” This is because laser treatments can’t remove all the unwanted hair permanently due to the above reasons. Bottom line, numerous studies show the degree of permanent hair reduction to be from 85 to 90 percent.
What is the recovery from laser hair removal like?
There may be some minimal soreness and redness, which usually resolves after a few hours. This is a similar sensation to what one would experience with a very mild sunburn. Sun exposure should be limited for a period of one to several weeks depending upon your skin type.
Is Laser Hair Removal Uncomfortable?
Most of our patients that use the Lumenis LightSheer Duet hair removal laser experience little discomfort with the larger hand piece which is used for larger areas. With the small hand piece, there is a little more discomfort which is similar to the sensation caused by a rubber band snapping against your skin. We will often apply topical numbing medication to the skin prior to using this hand piece so that you will have the most comfortable possible experience.
Are there any risks involved with laser hair removal?
Lasers have been removing hair commercially since 1997, the year the FDA approved their use for “permanent hair reduction.” They were tested for approximately two decades before that. Laser hair removal is a very popular procedure around the world and has proven to be safe, comfortable, and effective. There are very few risks, really only skin burns, and those are the result of inexperienced or poorly trained providers. That’s why you should only trust your laser hair removal to the experience and expertise of Dr. Schaffer and his team.
Laser hair removal pricing
FACE: Upper lip $49, chin $49, nose $49, ears $49, beard $199, cheeks $69, mid brow $49, forehead $49 plus, ladies sideburns $99, posterior neck $85, anterior neck $99.
ARMS: Underarms $69, arms $150, hands $79.
LEGS: Legs upper $269, lower $180, bikini regular $109, extended $139, feet $79.
TORSO: Back upper $199, lower $199, chest $199, abdomen $199, shoulders $99.
Patients who have had cosmetic surgery with Dr. Schaffer will receive discounts for laser hair removal.