Laser hair removal is one of the most popular uses for lasers in the cosmetic/aesthetic industry. The reason for this is because it works so well.
The first thing a prospective client needs to ask the practitioner performing the service is whether their laser provides laser hair reduction or hair removal. This is very important because the laser hair reductions are exactly that – they only reduce your hair. These much less expensive lasers are frequently owned by spas, and therefore they are able to charge much less. Almost all of the clients I have spoken to who have received these treatments in a spa setting don’t understand this limitation.
How does it work?
Essentially, the laser light strikes and travels down the hair shaft to destroy the hair root. To be effective, the hair must be in the growth phase. Only about 20% of body hair is in the growth phase and about 15% of facial hair. The hair needs to be very short so you need to shave or cut it the day before. You cannot wax, tweeze or pluck the hair for 3 weeks prior to your session.
Does it work for all hair types?
The hair must have pigment – so it will not work on white, blonde or grey hair. Very light colored hair can be iffy.
Is it safe for all skin types?
There are essentially two laser types, an Alexandrite, which is used on light colored skin and a YAG, which is safe for darker skin types. If you have darker skin, you should make sure that it is a YAG laser. The Cynosure Elite laser, which I have in my office, has both an Alexandrite and YAG laser in the same unit. If you have darker skin, it is important to know that you’ll be shooting for an 80-90% hair reduction, since it can be hard to get 100% with this skin type.
How often should I have a treatment?
For the body, you can get the treatment every 6 weeks, and for the face, about every 4 weeks. You can do it a bit more frequently, but this is the optimum timeframe. It is also perfectly fine to wait longer between treatments.
How many treatments will I need?
The number of treatments needed to remove the hair varies from area to area, and person to person. I have seen some women do their axillas (armpits) in only 3 treatments. I think a good average for the Alexandrite (white skin) is about 5-8 sessions. Some people will need more. In each session, if we see that there is not much or any redness from the previous session, we can increase the energy of the laser.
What do I need to do before the treatment?
You’ll want to shave the hair the day before your treatment. Most people should put a numbing cream on the area and cover with saran wrap 45 minutes before their appointment. We ask patients to arrive 5 minutes early so they can wash it off before your session. You’ll also want to use a sunblock between sessions since you should not be tanned for the laser sessions. We use a cooler, which blows cold air on the area being treated, making it much more comfortable. If not receiving this treatment in our office, definitely be sure that your treatment location uses a cooler with their laser.
Do men ever do laser hair removal?
Yes! We are seeing more and more men coming in for treatments for their backs, chest, abdomen, neck, legs and pubic area. Both sexes will find laser hair removal much more comfortable than waxing.