Lasers have become an effective tool in many different modern contexts, from manufacturing to military needs to medical uses. Lasers are very common in aesthetic medicine today, and for good reason—they can be used for everything from liposuction to skin resurfacing and tattoo removal. One of the most common uses for lasers in cosmetic procedures these days is laser hair removal, a popular treatment that uses the power of a specialized laser to destroy hair roots and prevent future growth indefinitely. This is a great option for people who are sick of hair removal upkeep, including shaving, waxing, and depilatories. However, many people wonder if the process is worth it. Does laser removal hurt, and how much recovery time is involve?
How Laser Hair Removal Works
Laser hair removal works by targeting the pigment in the hair follicle and destroying it at the root. This inhibits hair growth in the future. Many follicles can be treated each second, making the treatments both efficient and effective. Because the light targets pigment in the hair, it is important for people undergoing the treatments to avoid tanning, as the skin will absorb the light before the hair. Waxing and plucking should be avoided for 6 weeks before each treatment, as the hair’s root must be present for the treatment to work.
Does it Hurt?
Especially for people interested in getting larger areas treated, concerns about the comfort of the procedure are quite common. Laser treatments are somewhat uncomfortable, but they can mostly be performed without any kind of anesthetic. A cool gel is applied to the skin right before treatment to help the skin absorb the light. The amount of discomfort involved depends on the individual’s pain tolerance, but at most is usually described as similar to a series of snaps from a rubber band. Of course, the amount of pain also depends on the size of the area being treated—the laser works fast, but large areas can take up to an hour to treat.
Is There Any Downtime?
Following each treatment, the skin will feel sensitive and sunburned for a few days, but there are no restrictions on activities following the procedure. Discomfort is easily controlled, and side effect should subside quickly. The laser targets the hair, not the skin, so there is very little trauma to the area surrounding the follicles. The treated area should be protected from the sunlight before and after treatment, however, in order to protect against problems like hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin).
A Process, Not Just a Procedure
Because of the way body hair grows, it is impossible to treat all the hair follicles at once, getting the process over and done with. Hair grows in phases, and at least some of the follicles will be dormant at all times. While follicles remain dormant, there is no way to target them, and multiple treatments are necessary so that all the follicles can be treated. In general, people need about 3-7 treatments, each spaced 4-6 weeks apart, for optimal results.
The Beautiful Results
While laser treatment might seem like a laborious process for simply getting rid of hair, think of the benefits: never having to shave or wax, and never being worried about missing a spot or wondering if your hair is too long to be seen in public. While touchups may be needed from time to time over the years for maintanence, the overall results of the procedure should be relatively permanent, making laser hair removal well worth the time and expense involved for most people who are interested in pursuing the process.
The best source for learning more about a procedure and for exploring whether or not laser hair removal is a good option for you is a qualified plastic surgeon. Consultations with prospective surgeons allow you to learn more about the procedure, ask any questions you may have, and get to know the surgeon.
If you would like to speak with a board certified plastic surgeon about your goals for laser hair removal, we offer free consultations at Masri Clinic for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery. Our highly qualified surgeons have over 75 years of experience between them, and are highly skilled in a wide range of effective procedures. Call (866-487-3223) today to schedule your complimentary consultation in Dearborn, or Birmingham, MI.