About Laser Hair Reduction and Laser Hair Removal
For both men and women, the removal of unwanted hair can be time-consuming, sometimes challenging, and uncomfortable. In Laser Hair Reduction (LHR), a laser is used to target the hair-producing follicles, decreasing or eliminating hair in that area. A laser is an intense beam of light. While passing through the skin, it heats the follicle, damaging it so that it can no longer produce hair. The unwanted hair can be anywhere, but common treatment areas are: legs, bikini, arms, back, upper lip, chin, and underarms. Laser Hair Reduction is also very useful for medical conditions such as chronic razor bumps.
Who can get Laser Hair Reduction?
Laser Hair Reduction works best in people with dark hair and light skin. This creates a clear “target” for the laser. However, people with dark skin and dark hair or lighter hair on light skin can still be treated with appropriate lasers and settings with proper consideration.
Is Laser Hair Reduction Permanent?
We use the term Laser hair Reduction and not Laser Hair Removal because permanent removal cannot be assured. Although the laser treatment slows hair growth and provides an extended period of reduced hair growth, it cannot be assured that hair growth will not recur in the future.
How many Laser Hair Reduction treatments are required?
Several treatment sessions of Laser Hair Reduction are required for a sustained result, typically 4 to 6 treatments spaced several weeks apart, but sometimes more. Maintenance treatments may also be required.
Is Laser Hair Reduction Safe?
Laser Hair Reduction is a medical procedure and should be performed under medical supervision. It is generally safe, but the following adverse effects may sometimes occur:
- The skin may get irritated, red, or crusted after Laser Hair Reduction.
- Pigment changes can occur, especially in those with darker skin types. Skin may be either darkened or lightened. This effect is usually temporary.
- Less commonly, laser hair removal may result in burns, blisters, scarring or changes in skin texture.
How should I prepare for Laser Hair Reduction?
First choose a physician to perform your service, one with a specialty in dermatology or plastic surgery. Laser Hair Reduction is a medical procedure and should not be entrusted to spas and salons. Your physician will first schedule a consultation to review your medical history, skin history, and previous cosmetic and laser treatments. Your physician will review with you the risks and benefits of the procedure, discuss the proposed treatment plan and associated costs, and take photographs for documentation.
After deciding on your course of care:
- Stay out of the sun for at least a week before your treatments. A tan, either natural or from sunless tanners or tanning salons, increases your risk of side effects such as burning or pigment changes.
- Do not pluck, wax or perform electrolysis on the area to be treated. These methods damage the follicle and can interfere with the effects of the laser.
- Shave the area a day or two before the treatment. Long hairs interfere with the laser, can singe, and will produce odor when hit by the laser.
What happens during the Laser Hair Reduction treatment?
On the day of your treatment, you will be brought to a procedure room and made comfortable. Sometimes an anesthetic cream will be applied to the area beforehand. Your physician will discuss this with you if it is necessary. Metal goggles will be placed over your eyes for protection. During the laser treatment, your physician will press the laser tip against your skin. Depending on the laser, there is also a cooling system to protect the upper surface of your skin from the laser. This may be a cool gel, a cold tip, cold blown air, or a cold spray before each laser pulse. With each laser pulse you may feel some heat and a stinging or snapping sensation. Even with goggles on you may perceive flashes of light. Depending on the size of the area treated, treatment may take several minutes to several hours.
What to expect after Laser Hair Reduction
Immediately after the procedure, the treated area may be red and small swellings may occur around the hair follicles. The area may tingle for a day or two. The treated area may become crusty over the first day or two after treatment. During this time just wash with gentle soap an water. Avoid picking at or manipulating the treated area. Do not tan during this period, and wear sunscreen.
Laser Hair Reduction results
Photos are provided courtesy of Candela Corporation and may not be representative of the results that you may experience.