Laser hair removal for unwanted hair has become one of the most common cosmetic procedures performed in the United States, ranked second behind wrinkle-relaxing injections in frequency of procedures performed. Laser hair removal utilizes beams of highly concentrated light designed to selectively penetrate into the hair follicles, to be absorbed by the pigment in the hair follicles and to destroy the hair within that hair follicle. A variety of lasers and light sources have been developed that may be employed in laser hair removal. The procedure was originally described to be performed on dark hairs on light skin; newer technologies have made the procedure safer for patients with darker skin and those of color. Various types of lasers are utilized with laser hair removal – the most common of which are alexandrite, diode, Neodymium YAG and intense pulsed light sources.
Why choose laser hair removal?
Laser hair removal can remove unwanted hair, be it from a condition that causes excess hair growth or just the desire for a new look. Most individuals will require a series of treatments over time which will result in the removal of the unwanted hair. Most of the lasers and light sources are FDA cleared for permanent hair reduction, which means reduction over time. Some individuals will see very long term hair removal which may last for many years. Others may require maintenance treatments over time to maintain their degree of hair loss. It is truly impossible to determine in advance who will require how many treatments and how long the hair will remain gone. As stated above, laser hair removal works best in those with dark hairs on lighter skin,
It is truly impossible to determine in advance who will require how many treatments and how long the hair will remain gone. As stated above, laser hair removal works best in those with dark hairs on lighter skin, however, newer technologies and newer lasers and light sources have made the procedure safe and effective in those with darker skin and those individuals of color.
How to prepare for the procedure
Before the procedure, a dermatologist will usually review the patient’s medical history and conduct a physical exam.
This is the time for the doctor and patient to discuss expectations, potential risks and outcomes of the procedure. Patients also should:
- Avoid sunbathing, tanning beds, waxing, chemical peels or collagen injections for two weeks prior to the procedure.
- Avoid perfumes, deodorants or any potential irritants in the treatment area before and after treatment.
- Avoid aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements due to increased risk of bleeding.
What to expect after the procedure
Following treatment, patients should expect:
- Redness and swelling of the hair follicle, which is a normal occurrence.
- Pain and discomfort, which can be easily treated with over-the-counter pain medicines.
- To be given a prescription for a topical antiseptic cream to be applied after treatment.
- To avoid direct sun exposure for at least one week following all laser hair removal procedures.