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Laser Hair Removal

Laser Hair Removal is one of the oldest uses for cosmetic lasers.  However, the technology has changed a lot in the last few years. We can now treat all skin types and most hair types, something that was not possible in the past  We also treat shaving bumps.

How Does It Work?

Hair contains melanin, the pigment which accounts for the color in hair and skin.  Melanin absorbs the laser energy.  When the laser is directed at the hair follicle, the melanin in the hair follicle heats up, and the heat is transferred to the follicle, damaging it so the hair doesn’t grow back. The hair growth cycle has three growth stages: Anagen (the active growth phase), Catagen (the regression phase), and Telogen ( the resting phase). At any one point in time, the hair on an area of your body will be in all three phases. The laser will only treat hair that is in the active growth (Anagen) phase. Thus, several treatments over time are needed to remove all of the hair in a particular area.

How Successful Is It?

Laser Hair Removal is really “Laser Hair Reduction”. Most people who complete a course of treatment will have at least an 80% permanent reduction of hair. There may be some hair which persists after a treatment course, depending on individual hormonal and hereditary factors. Hair which persists after treatment tends to be finer and lighter. People who have hair regrowth can return once or twice a year for “touchup” treatments.

How Many Treatments Will I Need?

The number of treatments a person will need for permanent hair reduction varies from individual to individual.  The average number of treatments is 4 to 6, with the range being 3 to 8 treatments. Treatments are generally scheduled 4 to 8 weeks apart, depending on the area being treated and the person’s hair growth characteristics.

Is It Painful?

Most people who have laser hair removal without the use of topical anesthetics say that the pulse of the laser feels much like the “snap of a rubber band.”  Some areas of the body are more sensitive than others.  Certainly, the pain experienced with treatment is significantly less than the pain from waxing or from electrolysis. In order to minimize discomfort, we offer all patients topical anesthetic agents prior to treatments, which greatly reduces any pain experienced with the treatments.  Our laser also has integrated contact cooling of the skin, for even greater comfort.

Can I Be Tan Before Treatment? What About Dark Skin?

In the past, laser hair removal could only be done successfully on people with light skin and dark hair. With the advent of new laser equipment and technology, we can now treat all skin types, from very light to very dark.  We can also treat people with tans, without the need for allowing time for the tan to fade. For dark-skinned individuals, we generally test the laser on their skin first, in order to determine the best settings which will also not damage the skin.

What If I Have Blond or Gray Hair?

Since the laser targets the melanin in the hair, blond or gray hair traditionally does not respond well to the laser, as it has little or no melanin. However, a recent advance in the field may be changing this.  The naturally derived substance, Meladine, when applied to light hair for a few weeks prior to laser treatment, will darken the follicle without dyeing the visible hair, thus making the laser treatments more effective for blond or gray hair.  For reasons still unknown, most red hair still does not respond well to laser treatments.

What Preparations Do I Need Before Hair Removal Treatments?

You must not pluck or wax or undergo electrolysis in the area to be treated for at least four weeks prior to treatment.  You may shave the area or trim it with scissors.  Also, do not use depilatory cream or hair bleach for four weeks prior to treatment.   Do not use glycolic acid products or Retin-A for 3 days prior.  The area to be treated must be clean-shaven just prior to treatments, so the laser treats the hair follicle without burning any hair above the skin surface. Any topical anesthetic should be applied 60-90 minutes prior to treatment, and the area covered in plastic wrap (Saran Wrap) after application of the topical anesthetic (do NOT cover your mouth, nose, or eyes with plastic wrap).

What Can I Expect After The Treatment?

Hair loss will be most evident ten days to two weeks after treatment. After your treatment you may expect a mild sunburn sensation that typically lasts 2-3 hours and redness and swelling that may last one day.  If you have any discomfort, you can apply cold compresses or cool packs to the area. If you have any itching, you can apply over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream.  Additional post-treatment instructions will be given to you at the time of treatment.

What Areas Can I Have Treated?

We treat men and women, and most areas of the body.  These areas include: face, lip, chin, eyebrows and unibrows, neck, underarms, arms, chest, areolae, back, abdomen, bikini area, legs, and feet.

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