FAQs Laser Hair Removal
WHAT IS LASER HAIR REMOVAL?
Laser hair removal uses bursts of light to selectively destroy hair follicles while leaving surrounding skin unharmed. Long lasting results are achieved much faster than with electrolysis, eliminating the need for frequent waxing, plucking and shaving. Razor bumps (pseudofolliculitis) are both treated and prevented.
HOW MANY TREATMENTS WILL I NEED?
After each treatment, much of the hair will fall out within 2 weeks. Approximately one-third of the hair follicles, which were actively growing, will have been destroyed in most patients. The other hairs, which were in the resting stage, will begin actively growing back over the next 4 to 8 weeks. It is best to schedule your next treatment during this growing phase. With each treatment, the number of hairs that grow back will decrease, because each time, a fraction of the remaining hair follicles are destroyed. Most patients require a minimum of 4 treatments for long-term results and up to 6 or 8 treatments to achieve the best results possible. Unfortunately, laser hair removal is considered cosmetic and is not covered by insurance.
HOW LONG WILL THE EFFECTS LAST?
In a study we published in the journal “Cosmetic Dermatology”, four treatments in the bikini area resulted in an average of 85% reduction of hair at six months follow-up. Data suggests that permanent hair reduction is likely in most patients. Hairs that are not destroyed become finer and lighter in color. This leads to further visible improvement in hair bearing areas and eliminates razor bumps (pseudofolliculitis). Approximately 5-10% of patients do not achieve lasting results with laser hair removal.
DOES LASER HAIR REMOVAL HURT?
We use a cooling gel and cold air anesthesia on each area during treatment. There is a stinging sensation with each pulse of the laser. A topical numbing cream may decrease discomfort from the procedure. Topicaine, a very effective anesthetic gel, may be purchased in our office. Alternatively, LMX 4 or 5% cream (slightly more expensive than Topicaine) may be ordered from your pharmacy without a prescription. Apply a generous amount of Topicaine or LMX 30 minutes before your appointment and rub into the skin. Repeat this application after you check in for your appointment. In the bikini area or legs, plastic wrap may be used over the numbing cream to keep it in place and increase penetration into the skin. No more than a single 30 gram tube should be used in any given day to avoid the danger of lidocaine toxicity.
AM I A GOOD CANDIDATE FOR LASER HAIR REMOVAL?
The best results are achieved in patients with dark hair and light skin. Blond, gray and white hair does not respond to treatment. A variety of skin types may be treated with our laser, including Asian and Mediterranean tones, but a gentler energy must be employed, requiring more treatments for improvement. Patients with a tan must wait at least 6 weeks for the tan to fade prior to treatment.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS?
Laser hair removal is extremely safe, with infrequent occurrence of side effects. Laser light cannot penetrate the skin and cannot harm internal organs, but goggles must be worn to protect the eyes. Patients with darker skin and those with a tan are at higher risk for skin darkening (hyperpigmentation) and lightening (hypopigmentation). These changes in color usually fade with time. Blistering or scarring occur only rarely. To minimize the possibility of these adverse events, it is important to follow pre and post procedure instructions.