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Frequently Asked Questions About Laser Hair Removal
Q. How does laser treatment differ from electrolysis and is the treatment permanent?
A. The main difference between laser hair removal technology and the method known as electrolysis is that laser uses selective energy; all energy goes to the hair follicle allowing for greater destruction of the germinating cells; laser and selective energy results in a more efficient set of treatments. Also, lasers can treat multiple hair follicles at a time, no longer requiring the need to identify and probe each individual hair follicle, as is done with electrolysis. Because of the selective energy used in laser hair removal, there is less chance of side effects than when removing hair with the electrolysis method.
Q. Why proceed with laser hair removal and how many treatments are needed?
A. Simply because laser hair removal is the most practical, least painful, most efficient and probably the least expensive professional method available to remove unwanted hair. Laser hair removal works by destroying hairs that are in their active growth phase. Since not all hairs are actively growing at any given time, laser hair removal does require a series of treatments. Generally 5 treatments are needed spaced approximately 10 weeks apart. Subsequent treatments may then be needed depending on any of the following factors that can influence hair growth and responsiveness to laser therapy: hair location or hair type, hair color, skin color, hormonal influences, medications and genetic backgrounds.
Q. Who are the best candidates for laser hair removal and how does the laser actually work?
A. Since light energy is absorbed by the pigment melanin, which is then transformed into heat energy to disable the follicle, those individuals with coarse, dark hair and untanned skin respond to our lasers most optimally. However, individuals with any shade of brown hair or black hair will respond to laser hair removal.
Q. What kind of a laser or light source is used?
A. We currently utilize the most advanced laser developed for hair removal. This is a specially designed laser that allows light to penetrate to greater depths of the hair follicle than other lasers or other light sources. Specialized cooling involves gently freezing the surface of the skin just prior to each laser pulse, thereby allowing greater energy levels to be delivered to the hair follicle, with minimal energy absorption by the skin. This cooling technique also minimizes the discomfort during treatment.
Q. What are the adverse effects of laser treatment?
A. There is mild pain associated with the treatments, which has been likened to the snap of a rubber band. Some degree of redness or swelling is common, but usually only lasts for a period of one hour to a few days, depending on the individual.
Q. Which areas can be treated?
A. Nearly any body hair can be treated including large areas such as backs and thighs, bikini areas and facial hair. Because laser energy is attracted to melanin, the treated hair must be any shade of natural black or brown for an effective treatment. Because blonde, white or red hair does not contain melanin, the hair will not attract the laser energy resulting in an ineffective treatment. Electrolysis is the permanent hair removal alternative for blonde, white or red hair.
Q. What preparation is needed before laser treatment?
A. For laser therapy to be successful, it is necessary to have some stubble present at the time of the treatment. Waxing, plucking and bleaching should be avoided for at least several weeks prior to treatment. It is fine to trim or shave the hairs, but shaving should be avoided for about three days prior to treatment. Also, the treated area must be protected from the sun for a least six weeks prior to treatment (this also means no tanning beds, booths or sunless tanners).
Q. How will I look after the treatment?
A. Generally some redness is expected, but can be covered with makeup immediately. At the time of treatment, many of the hairs are burned off and others are shed 1-2 weeks following the laser hair removal treatment. The treated area will remain hairless for up to 8 weeks.
Since not all hairs are actively growing at any given time, laser hair removal does require a series of treatments. Generally 5 treatments are needed spaced approximately 10 weeks apart. Subsequent treatments may then be needed, depending upon any of the following factors which can influence hair growth and responsiveness to laser therapy: hair location or hair type, hair color, skin color, hormonal influences, medications and genetic backgrounds.
Q. What should I avoid after treatment?
A. The treated areas should be handled gently, avoiding the use of harsh or abrasive cleaners. You should also stay out of the sun for two weeks. If area is warm, it is ok to apply a cold compress.
Q. Are there any patients that cannot be treated, or any medical contradictions?
A. Very dark African Americans may find laser hair removal treatments less affective, and run the risk of greater pigmentation changes. Patients with a history of keloid scar formation or poor healing and anyone with known photosensitivity to light run a higher risk of side effects. Pregnant women require a doctor’s note prior to being treated. Also, anyone with permanent makeup such as eyebrows or lip liner should avoid treatments in those areas. If you have an active infection, i.e., cold sores, you should not be treated until the infection has cleared. For best treatment results and to minimize bruising, it is important to avoid aspirin, ibuprofen and other NSAID’s immediately before and following laser hair removal treatments.