If you're contemplating trying laser hair removal, you need to know what you are getting yourself into. The promise of a hairless, stubble-free life is tempting, but it's essential to read up on the facts and potential side effects before you commit.
Before we get into it, we need to clarify that laser hair removal is not permanent. Although this hair removal method is often praised as a form of "permanent" hair removal, it only reduces unwanted hairs in a specific area and delays the growth phase. It doesn't permanently get rid of undesired hairs.
How Laser Hair Removal Works
Laser therapy works by using high-heat laser emissions (a mild form of radiation). These beams heat up and destroy your hair follicles, located just below the skin during the procedure. The follicles are responsible for generating new strands of hair. If they are damaged, then hair production is disabled - temporarily.
On the other hand, shaving, tweezing, and waxing all get rid of hair above the surface, not at the source. They don't target hair-producing follicles.
Here are some appropriate areas for laser hair removal:
- Bikini line
- Face (not the eye area)
Laser hair removal works great on light skin tones with darker hair tones; This is because the beams target hair melanin. Some hairs may shed within a few days after your first treatment session. In terms of efficiency, laser hair removal is a fairly quick process. More delicate areas like the upper lip can take a few minutes. But larger areas like the chest or back can take up an hour or longer.
If the dermatologist applies a pain-relieving gel (anesthetic) in your first treatment, you can expect the session to last up to an hour or more.
Despite the damage caused by the laser beam during hair removal, hair follicles eventually heal. When they do, hair production will resume. To ensure optimal results, you will need multiple treatment sessions.
Follow-up sessions are required to get the most out of your laser hair removal experience. The specific number of maintenance treatments varies, but according to the Mayo Clinic, most people come back four to six times after the first session.
To make matters worse, these follow-up sessions need to be spaced out by six weeks, meaning that a full treatment course can take up to 8-9 months.
After every session, you can expect to see fewer and fewer hairs. Any hair that lingers or regenerates will be lighter in texture and color. The AAD reports that the number of hairs will be reduced by 10 to 25 % after the opening session. The rate of reduction after that will increase but may also vary.
Costs of Laser Hair Removal
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, laser hair removal's average cost is $285/session. The price may vary, depending on certain factors:
- The area being handled and time needed for treatment
- Number of additional treatments required
- Whether a specialist or doctor is performing the procedure
- The state where you are having the procedure
Note: You can always ask for a free consultation to better understand the cost for your particular situation.
Potential Downsides to Laser Hair Removal
No Gym After Your Sessions
The heat from the laser beams lingers in your skin for around 24 hours, so you're going to have to stay away from the gym, saunas, and hot showers. If you fail to do so, you may create an environment for bacteria to reproduce and generate spots.
Stay Away From Anything That Involves the Sun
The specialist will advise what is best for you. Still, you may need to avoid too much sun exposure before and after the session. Furthermore, if you have a tan, you'll need to wait till it disappears before you can begin your treatment. Talk to your dermatologist to figure out your schedule to make sure you don't have trips coming up, affecting your next sessions.
Although laser hair removal isn't permanent, it's undeniably one of the best, most effective hair removal options. Other long-term hair removal options include electrolysis and needle epilators.
We get it; not everyone has the patience and the budget for multiple sessions a year. These sessions, although weeks apart, add up quickly. If you have the option, we recommend you go with waxing because for some individuals, laser hair removal is simply not worth it. Plus, there is no such thing as trying it out when it comes to laser hair removal - it’s a year-long commitment.
Talk to a specialist about:
- Waxing or sugaring
- Tweezer epilators
- Proper shaving routines
Today, customers have access to mini versions of laser hair treatments for home use. However, we do not recommend them as their safety and effectiveness remain unclear. Furthermore, they aren't tested, so you'll be navigating uncharted territory. It's best to leave it to the expert.