How Laser Hair Removal Works and What Questions Should You Ask?

Laser hair removal is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures. There are various offices performing laser hair removal, including spas, salons, and physician offices. But keep in mind that not all lasers are appropriate for all skin types. For example, some lasers cannot be used on tan skin and darker skin. In some states, laser use must be under the medical direction of a physician. This is to ensure that the appropriate laser is chosen for the patient’s proper skin type. Using the wrong laser can result in complications such as skin burns.

Who Performs Laser Treatments?

Plastic surgeons and dermatologists are the most common type of physicians that perform laser treatments. This not only includes laser hair removal, but also other types of lasers to promote improvement in skin texture and appearance. In these offices, either a laser technician or a nurse often performs the laser treatment. These individuals have been trained to perform the proper techniques and practice laser safety.

What Are Lasers?

A laser is a narrow beam of light with a specific wavelength. There are various types of lasers that are categorized by where the light falls, which is the wavelength spectrum. To this end, laser hair removal has evolved over the years and there are various kinds of lasers that can be used on a variety of skin types.

How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?

Hair goes through three growth phases: anagen, telogen, and catagen. The anagen phase is the growth phase of the hair follicle, which is needed for it to absorb laser light. The depth of the hair follicle and anagen phase differs depending on the hair over various areas of the body. Laser hair removal requires multiple treatments in order to treat all the hair in the anagen phase.

While laser hair removal works by treating the hair at the level of the hair follicle, a gray hair follicle doesn’t have pigment and therefore doesn’t absorb the laser light. Presently, most lasers don’t treat gray hair for that specific reason. Most lasers for hair removal have difficulty treating blond hair as well due to the lack of significant pigment in the hair follicle.

From Which Areas Can You Remove Body Hair?

Common areas for laser hair removal are the face, underarms, bikini area, and legs. Laser hair removal is an efficient and more permanent way of getting rid of unwanted hair, thereby producing long-lasting and more satisfying results.

What Laser Treatment is Good for Your Skin Type?

Over the years, lasers have evolved and can be used to treat all skin types. In the past, lasers were not recommended for tan skin or pigmented skin because skin absorbs laser light, and darker skin types were more susceptible to getting skin burns.

IPL, which is known as intense pulsed light, can also be used for laser hair removal. However, it shouldn’t be used to treat darker skin types because of the increased possibility of skin burns.

Before your laser treatment, it’s important to find out what type of laser is being used, and if there are any possibilities that this laser could cause skin burns. It’s also important to ask how many laser treatments will be needed before you can achieve your hair removal goals. Most lasers will cause permanent hair reduction, which means that there may be slight growth within five or so years.

As mentioned, laser hair treatments are performed by either a laser technician or a nurse under the direction of a physician. In some states, estheticians may also perform laser hair removal depending upon the location’s governing laws.

How Many Laser Hair Removal Treatments Do You Need?

Because of the popularity of laser hair removal, its price has decreased significantly over the years. Most laser hair removal treatments are sold in packages since multiple treatments are needed before the desired results are achieved. Often, six laser treatments are included in a package. Treatments are often spaced four to six weeks apart, depending on the type of laser device that is used.

With many lasers, a cold spray is felt then followed by a zap, which makes treatments quick and tolerable. Some lasers have a chilling head that cools the skin before the zap is felt. A topical anesthetic is usually not needed prior to the laser hair removal treatment.

What Are the Risks of Undergoing the Procedure?

Risks and complications should also be discussed before the laser treatment. Some questions you should ask include are the following:

          ●     Is there a possibility of burns?

          ●     Is there a possibility of skin discoloration such as hyper- or hypopigmentation?

          ●     How much would subsequent treatments cost if the laser hair removal treatment is unsuccessful?

Moreover, if you’re using skincare products, be sure to discuss this with the laser technician or nurse. You may be asked to stop certain products prior to the treatment as this may cause skin irritation and possibly even an increased sensitivity to the laser treatment. If you’re using depilatories, ask when they should be stopped prior to the laser hair removal treatment. If you pluck or wax your hair, ask how soon before the laser treatment should this be avoided.