Although the internet is an excellent source of information, there is so much of it that it’s hard for consumers to sift through to find the pearls. For laser hair removal, look no further. Read below to answer all the questions you’ve ever had about laser hair removal.
How does Laser Hair removal work?
A laser is very powerful light. Laser light has different physical properties than the light we are used to seeing and these properties make lasers much more powerful and precise than the light we are used to seeing every day. When laser light is directed at the skin, the dark color and coarseness of hair, combined with the properties of the laser chosen, means that the energy generated upon absorption is primarily focused on the hair and not the skin. When the hair absorbs laser light, the energy is transformed into heat and the temperature of the hair follicle increases significantly. The heat generated impairs the ability for the follicle to generate hair growth in the future.
Am I a candidate for laser hair removal?
Most consumers are good candidates for laser hair removal, but there are exceptions. The absorption of laser light by the hair requires that it has some coarseness and color. If a hair is very fine and light such as the case with a very blond haired person, grey hair or peach fuzz on the cheeks, then permanent laser hair removal is not possible. On the other hand, dark coarse hair like that found on the lower leg, bikini or underarms is the ideal type of hair.
Many patients with medium to dark skin tones believe they are not candidates for laser hair removal, but this is not the case. Laser hair removal is possible with every skin type. The key is the coarseness and color of the hair rather than the color of the skin. While dark skin types can be treated successfully, the type of laser for darker skin types is different than the type for lighter skin types.
Which laser is right for me?
There are three primary laser types, Diode, Alexandrite and Yag. It’s important to understand that these are not brand names but rather the type of light used by the laser. Diode (810 nanometer wavelength) and Alexandrite (755 nm) are both commonly used for light to medium skin types – generally Caucasian to Asian. The Yag (1064 nm) is the ideal type for African or African American skin. While all lasers can cause side effects such as blisters, using the above lasers with the noted skin types significantly decreases the risk of side effects.
It is much more important to understand which TYPE of laser is ideal for your skin type than it is to know the brand. There are many brands of Diode, Alexandrite and Yag lasers but they all lasers of one type use the same kind of light. So, focus less on the brand and more on the type.
How much does the practitioner matter?
Results will vary from practice to practice and one of the main determinants for your result will be the skill of your practitioner. Just like other professional services, prices vary according to skill level. To eliminate the guesswork try to get a referral from a friend that has already been successful in a program.
Will the hair removal be permanent?
The short answer is yes, but there are qualifications. Dark, coarse hair that is removed will be permanently removed. But, the FDA mandates that practitioners speak about “reduction” rather than complete removal because not 100% of the hair is removed. There will always be fine, light colored hair that is not possible to remove and in most cases, even for the coarse hair, not 100% is removed. Patients often achieve 60%, 80% or even 95% permanent removal of dark coarse hair when the procedures are done well. Another issue is that in certain areas of the body, such as the female chin and jawline, hair regularly becomes coarser and darker over time with hormonal changes such as pregnancy, birth control and menopause. So, while a female patient may achieve 95% permanent hair removal for coarse dark hair on the chin, 3-5 years later, many new dark hairs may have emerged.
How many treatments does it take?
Most laser hair removal programs take between 4-8 visits to achieve a 75% reduction in the amount of coarse dark hair. The number of treatments depends on the hair type, laser used and skill of the practitioner.
How long should I wait between treatments?
Most practices use a 4-12 week duration between treatments and this can depend on the body area treated as hair has different growth cycles depending on the location.