More people are using laser treatments to permanently get rid of hair from their face and body than ever before.
Laser hair treatment usually requires 6-8 treatments over a series of months and hair removal is usually permanent.
Lasers work by emitting light at various wavelengths, energy outputs, and pulse widths. The wavelength used is determined by the skin structures it will affect such as veins, melanin, or water.
Most lasers used for hair removal target melanin and are therefore designed to heat structures that contain melanin, like black or brown hairs. Laser hair removal works for both men and women.
Cosmetic benefits of laser hair removal include:
• Fewer, thinner, lighter hairs and slower regrowth
• Long term savings (less money spent on waxing, shaving and shaving supplies).
• Less or no razor burn, abscesses or folliculitis.
• Less sweating in the armpit or groin areas, leading to drier clothes and less body odor.
• Less time spent waxing or going to a day spa for wax treatments.
Commonly Asked Questions About Laser Hair Removal:
Below are answers to some of the common questions I get about Laser Hair Removal.
- What is the most effective technique to permanently remove hair?
Laser hair removal. In our office we use a Candela Gentle Yag. This 1064 nanometer wavelength laser is very effective for many purposes, including hair removal and varicose vein removal. It is effective and safe for all skin types and colors and it is much safer than other wavelengths for people with dark skin, such as Latinos, Blacks, Asians, Native Americans, Middle Easterners & Indians. Because of its highly customizable timing settings it is the most effective Yag laser on the market for fine hairs, which are the toughest hairs to get rid of.
- What is the safest technique for permanent hair removal
Laser hair removal. Operator knowledge and choosing light and energy settings on these machines is important. Dr. Van Reken is involved in helping to choose the right machine settings for laser hair removal. This is much more supervision than is typical in most laser treatment centers.
- How effective is laser hair removal
Laser hair removal is very effective, provided we are talking about the right kind of hair. Perhaps first we should mention what is will not do. It usually will not remove gray hairs or tiny, blond, peach fuzz hairs (common on the cheeks or jaws). Light blond hairs may be partly removed. What it will do is remove darker colors of hair effectively, including black, brown or dirty blond hair. An example might be a light or olive skinned Italian or Latina lady with upper lip, chin, bikini area and armpit hair. A series of treatments with this skin type often results in 85-98% hair removal. Any hairs that do remain are typically very small and lighter than when treatment started. With our old 810 nm ELOS system most clients were satisfied. With our new Yag laser clients are even more satisfied, as it seems to be more effective. Those who have some fine hairs left over after other types of laser treatment can often get further hair removal with the newer laser.
- Are some body parts harder to treat than others?
Yes. In general, larger, thicker hairs are easier to treat. Thick hairs are typical in the armpit and bikini area. This makes a great target for the laser light and the hair follicle is easier to treat because of greater light absorption. Let’s say we treated a young woman in the armpits, bikini area and upper lip. She would probably have great results with just six treatments in the large hair areas, but might want eight in the upper lip area, which has finer hairs.
- How many treatment will I need?
It depends on the goal. Most clients are women who are interested in cosmetic enhancement. For them 4-6 treatments usually works well, but small hair areas like the face sometimes need 8 or 10 treatments. Sometimes the goal is not complete hair removal, but reduction of razor burn. Jose is a 40 year old Latino. He has a full beard, dark hair and likes his beard and mustache, but he always shaves the front of his neck. When he shaves he gets razor burn–areas of irritation and infection, often with pimples. He has scars on his neck from prior infection. Jose wants to shave more quickly and markedly reduce his razor burn. 2-3 treatments would probably drop the hair count by more than half and reduce his razor burn dramatically.
- Does laser hair removal hurt?
Laser hair removal does hurt some, but the pain is variable, usually mild and easy to control. It does not last long. Discomfort depends on how much hair is in the area. Upper lip and chin in women tend to not hurt much due to the fine hairs in these areas. Armpits and bikini areas tend to hurt more. Most people getting treated describe the sensation as similar to getting snapped with a rubber band–it stings, but not for long. Numbing creams are helpful and cut the pain when rubbed on before the hair removal process is started. Occasionally, if patients are really pain sensitive, we even prescribe a single narcotic pill an hour prior to laser hair removal. Very few clients request this.
- How much hair can be removed each treatment?
Research shows 15-30% hair removal per session is typical, but it sometimes takes three weeks to fall out.
- How often can I get treatments?
About monthly, but if hair has not regrown in the treated area in a month it will be even more effective to wait longer in between treatments.
- Can laser hair removal help with hair growth due to a hormonal imbalance?
This story is typical for polycystic ovary syndrome and the answer is yes, it still works quite well. Polycystic ovary syndrome occurs in 10% of women. Most are overweight and have acne, excessive hair (hirsutism) or both. However, these problems are not always severe. Fertility and miscarriages also occur in this syndrome. Many treatments are available for the hair growth, acne and the other problems associated with this syndrome. Metformin may help these women lose weight or improve fertility, reduce blood sugar, lower triglycerides and regulate periods. Spironolactone reduces hair growth and acne, such as on the chin or near the mouth. Birth control pills will nicely regulate periods and also reduce acne. Many women with PCO syndrome have high triglycerides, low HDL levels, high cholesterol and also frequently have diabetes or prediabetes. For this reason I like to check them out medically and get some blood work..
- Does laser hair removal hurt?
Laser hair removal does hurt some, but the pain is variable, usually mild and also easy to control. It does not last long. First, discomfort depends on how much hair is in the area. Upper lip and chin in women tend to not hurt all that much due to the fine hairs and small hair counts in these areas. Armpits and bikini areas tend to hurt a bit more. Most people getting treated describe the sensation as similar to getting snapped with a rubber band–it stings, but not for long. Numbing creams are helpful and cut the pain when rubbed on before the hair removal process is started. Occasionally, if patients are really pain sensitive, we even prescribe a single narcotic pill an hour prior to laser hair removal. The great majority of clients do not find this necessary. It is important not to drive when under the influence of narcotics. As such, someone else has to drive the client to and from the appointment when a narcotic is taken.
- Are there side effects to the procedure?
Long term one can get lightening of skin in a treated area. With our machines, both our old machine and our newer Gentle Yag, we have been able to avoid this. In over five years of experience we have not had scars from laser hair removal treatments in our office.
- I'm only 40 but I have wrinkles . Will laser hair removal help the wrinkles?
Yes and no. It depends on the type of system used. For example, many machines are effective for hair removal, but they are simple lasers within any frills. All that is given is laser energy at one wavelength. This really does not tighten skin or removal wrinkles to any extent. Our machine is a Syneron eMax and it has a central window where the light comes through. However, there is a metal rail on each side of the light window. A few milliseconds after the light pulse it shoots AM radio waves through these rails and deep into the skin. This produces an intentional mild injury to the deep skin layer, the dermis. This needs to heal and during the healing process produces new collagen. This results is some wrinkle reduction and skin tightening with our machine. Our IPL system also has radiofrequency pulses combined with it in a similar set up and this also tightens skin. Many patients receiving IPL for photoaging, such as freckle reduction, note tighter skin as well. Larger wrinkles, such as those in the forehead, are better handled with Botox™ or Matrix RF™, both of which we offer.
- Are there reasons to delay or avoid getting laser hair removal?
There are several things that should make you delay therapy. All are related to either less effectiveness or a higher risk of complications.
Things that reduce effectiveness:
1. Recent waxing or plucking. For good results you should not do this for at least 15 days before the procedure. For the absolute best results none of this for 6 weeks prior to the procedure. Shaving & hair removal creams are OK, even the day of the procedure.
2. Recent electrolysis; this is most troublesome if done within the last ten days and may decrease the effectiveness of the procedure.
Things that increase risk of complications:
1. Recent tanning or significant sun exposure in the treatment area. No recent tanning is wise, especially in the prior 14 days. Those planning laser hair removal in the coming month should wear sun screen or cover the area to be treated with clothing. If a significant tan is present the procedure should be delayed until the tan is at least 14 days old.
2. Use of sun sensitizing medications such as doxycycline, tetracycline, minocycline, Levaquin (levofloxacin), Cipro (ciprofloxacin), Avelox (moxifloxacin) in recent weeks. Also, Accutane (isotretinoin) use within the six months would be a strong reason to delay therapy.
3. Diseases that can be aggravated by the sun such as lupus, porphyria, or those with polymorphous light eruptions. I have treated a number of patients with light sensitivity without problems, but I have always done a test spot first. None of these patients had problems when tested..
4. Prior herpes simplex infections (oral or genital, most commonly) or shingles (herpes zoster) in or very near the areas to be treated. These are commonly called cold sores on the face and herpes elsewhere in the body. This may be controlled by giving the client an antiviral medication, like acyclovir, valacyclovir or famciclovir the day of the procedure and for a day or two after it.
5. Active bacterial or viral infection in the treatment area. In this case we prefer to treat the infection first and then do laser hair removal later.
6. Tattoos in the treatment area. We’ll need to avoid tattoos as these may burn, fade or be altered.
- Who will preform the procedure?
In our office we have multiple laser certified technicians: these include Dr. Van Reken, Lili S., Blanca S., Esther S., Mayra C., Carol R. and Jaime Davis. Most are bilingual (English/Spanish). Most procedures in our office are done one of these trained staff members, not the doctor. However, Dr. Van Reken always decides prior to the procedure the laser machine settings to provide maximum safety and effectiveness. In addition, you may request a specific laser tech. Maybe you like Lili’s gentle touch. Maybe Blanca did a nice job on your first treatment and you’d like to stick with her. Perhaps you prefer a female because of modesty issues in the area being treated. We are happy to honor such requests.
- I'd like to have laser hair removal and other laser services on the same day. Is this safe?
No, not if being treated in the same body area. However, you could have a photofacial with a laser or IPL, plus laser hair removal in the bikini area only, plus a laser vein treatment or other varicose vein service in the legs only, the same day.
Schedule Your FREE Laser Hair Removal Consultation Today…
To schedule a Free Laser Hair Removal Consultation, with Dr. Van Reken here at the Reno Sparks MedSpa or give us a call at (866) 648-6540.
If you’d like to order a FREE copy of the informative Looking Good, Feeling Great™ e-course: The 6 Secrets To Looking Younger Longer, visit the FREE Resources section of our website.