What is Laser Hair Removal?

What is Laser Hair Removal?
Caroline Hedges

Caroline Hedges

Caroline Hedges is a critically acclaimed researcher, writer and serial entrepreneur.
With a knack for making the obscure plain, she is able to distill her research
in writing both fun and engaging posts.

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You are playing ‘Family Feud’ and the following question is asked: “Name something people do in the shower.” Hair washing and body washing are going to be the top answers, for sure; but where do you think shaving would fall? Certainly in the Top 5 as it is a reality for many girls and women. But what if it didn’t need to be your reality? What if there was a treatment that could blast the hairs away and leave you with silky, soft skin that no longer needs to pair with a razor or get slathered in wax?

Laser hair removal is your answer! It’s is not a new treatment: Theodore H Maiman designed the first laser hair machine in 1960. It was slow, only targeting a couple of follicles each time and left burns on the skin. Fortunately, laser hair machines have come a long way! And now after multiple treatments, you can expect to see a significant reduction in hair growth. But, what does it do and is it safe? We have done the research to bring all the answers to the most asked questions about laser hair removal .

How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?

This hair removal laser is not a villain’s torture device or cat toy. The laser uses highly concentrated light to penetrate the hair follicles, damaging them and stopping regrowth.

When you arrive for your treatment, the area to be treated will be cleaned and sanitized. A numbing cream or ice pack will also be applied to help with discomfort. You may be given protective eyewear and then asked to lie back and relax. Then the laser will be applied to the treatment area. Your skin will be stretched thin to help the laser find its target; and after 15 minutes, your treatment should be finished!

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Can Anyone Get Laser Hair Removal?

Unfortunately, laser hair removal does not work well on people with fair skin and fair hair. The laser needs a contrast in pigment in order to work at its best. The laser is most effective on people with a strong contrast between skin tone and hair color. Laser hair removal will not work on grey hair either.

Does Laser Hair Removal Hurt?

There will be a level of discomfort during the treatment. Numbing cream will be applied to the area before to help manage the discomfort. Other tips to help reduce the discomfort include:

  • Don’t drink the night before – a hangover makes everything hurt more!
  • Don’t sunbath for at least a week before. Tanned skin makes it harder for the laser to work and could cause very minor burns to the skin.
  • Shave the area the night before or the morning of your treatment – the laser will find the hair follicle more easily.
  • Don’t use acid-based or retinol products 2 – 3 days before treatment.
  • Take a pain reliever 30 minutes before your appointment.
  • Don’t wax, thread or pluck your hair six weeks before your treatment. The laser needs to find the hair follicle in order to kill it. These treatments pull the hair out from the root, leaving no hair for the laser to find.
  • Let your laser technician know about any medication you are taking. Some are photosensitizing medicines which could cause blistering or burning.

Is Laser Hair Removal Safe?

Laser hair removal is one of the most common non-surgical cosmetic procedures in the US: in 2018, over one million Americans had it done, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The vast majority of these people experienced only minor sunburn effects up to two days after treatment. Long term health risks have not been associated with this treatment. Just ensure you have laser hair removal done by an experienced, qualified technician at an office that has safety and hygiene certificates.

There are other common side effects, which include:

  • Redness and Irritation: Press an ice pack or take a cool bath to help relieve symptoms. They should ease within 24 hours.
  • Changes in skin tone: This is more common in people with darker skin. They are generally temporary and harmless.
  • Crusting: You may get crusting in the treated area which can lead to scabbing. Keep the area moist and don’t pick to avoid scarring.
  • Skin Infection: Like an ingrowing hair, the damaged area could become infected. Treat it as any wound, with antibiotic cream bought from a pharmacy.

More Rare side effects include:

  • Blistering: This can occur in people with darker skin. Your skilled technician should factor your skin color when deciding on the intensity of the laser.
  • Permanent scarring: This may occur if you use an inexperienced technician. You should also pay attention to the after care plan given to you.
Laser hair removal

How Long Does Hair Removal Last?

Laser hair removal is long lasting, but not permanent. It can reduce hair growth, and the hair that does grow back will be finer, lighter hair that isn’t as obvious to the naked eye. After your course of treatment, expect to be see a vast reduction in hair growth for six to 12 months. Then you will need to get a touch up treatment.

How Many Sessions for Laser Hair Removal?

It is important to have multiple sessions because hair grows at different rates and the laser may not affect all hair follicles during the first treatment. Choosing between six to eight treatments should see a reduction in hair growth by 80-85%.

How Expensive is Laser Hair Removal?

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost per treatment is $285. Buying your treatments in bulk can reduce costs. The larger the area, the larger the cost. Your underarms will be significantly less than the average cost.

This may seem like a lot, but if you consider the cost of waxing or razors and creams plus the time spent attending appointments and water running in the shower while you shave, the difference may not be as big as you think. No more waxing appointments means you have freed up time to start that new hobby, get in an extra exercise class, or spend time with your friends and family. And you will still have a smooth, silky, hair-free body!

"AESTHETICA is indeed one of the BEST cosmetic surgery and laser centers in Loudoun. Dr. Chang is a born artist. Highly recommended!"

- Aug 7, 2019 Review by a very happy patient.

Ready to say goodbye to unwanted hair?

If you would like to say goodbye to unwanted hair, we invite you to come in for a complimentary consultation with Dr. Chang or one of the cosmetic laser and injection nurses to explore whether you would make a good candidate for laser hair removal. To find out whether Aesthetica can help you, contact us online or at 703-729-5553 to arrange an appointment. Dr. Phillip Chang is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Northern Virginia near Leesburg, Virginia and an expert in a wide variety of cosmetic treatments.

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