When people are confronted with permanent processes there can be a lot of stress and anxiety associated. Understanding the process of exactly how laser hair removal is performed is a key part in helping to manage that stress and anxiety before and during the procedure.
Laser hair removal has been a popular hair removal treatment since 1997 and has only become increasingly more effective (and popular) in the past few years. It is safe, effective, and much more permanent than other hair removal options such as waxing, tweezing or electrolysis.
However, laser hair removal still does not work for individuals with fine hair, (including grey and blonde), and individuals with dark hair and dark skin must use a specific type of laser to see the successful results.
Understanding the Laser
The specific lasers used in hair removal emit a special beam of light at a wavelength that is specifically targets the melanin in the hair and at the follicle. Melanin is what gives color to your hair and skin. The laser beam passes through the skin, and is then absorbed by the melanin residing in the hair follicle.
This is the reason why candidates with fair skin and dark hair are often the most successful. If the skin tone and hair color are too similar, the lasers are unable to differentiate between the skin and hair. A specific "long wave laser" is ideal for dark haired, dark skinned candidates.
The laser damages the follicle to a point beyond repair, and hair no longer grows in that spot. Once the follicle is gone, the skin begins to close and will create a smooth surface over the skin.
Why You Require More than One Treatment
While the laser is thorough, laser hair removal only works on hair that is actively growing. At any given time, a certain percentage of the hair on your body is in what's called the "Resting phase". The laser will not effectively remove those hairs, which is the reason why on multiple treatments (on average 4-6) are necessary in order to full remove all hair from the target area.
Some areas of the body take to treatment better than others, so the number of treatments may waver, depending on your treatment area. It is important to keep in mind, though, that a single treatment will not be effective in removing all of the hair from the treatment area. Most patients will require a touch up 1-3 times a year as maintenance, after the initial series.
Is Laser Hair Removal Painful
Most lasers today use a system that emits a burst of cold air, followed immediately by the laser pulse, and then another burst of cold air. This cold air numbs the area for the laser pulse. The level of discomfort is very much dependent on the individual's level of pain tolerance, but a majority of people undergoing laser hair removal liken the discomfort to a light pinch or a rubber band snapping on the skin. This discomfort is mild and subsides within 2-3 seconds. When visiting a clinic, it is important to ask what type of lasers they use, and the expected level of discomfort for those specific lasers.
Is The Process Dangerous
Each state has its own set of medical guidelines and procedures to help ensure the safety of anyone undergoing laser hair removal. Assuming that you are receiving treatment at a reputable clinic, with a staff of trained professionals who run the appropriate health checks and background, then No, laser hair removal is not at all dangerous. Each individual undergoing treatment should wear safety glasses to protect themselves from the lasers (which the clinic should provide), and the clinic should explain the entire process before it begins.
Who is Eligible
Because of the lasers targeting the specific pigments in the skin, the only people that are Not eligible are people with blonde or gray hair that lack that pigment. In addition to this, you may be disqualified from laser hair removal because you are pregnant, or because you are not old enough to receive the procedure (which depends on the specific rules of each clinic). With the exception of those listed and others with medical concerns, anyone is eligible for laser hair removal.
Is The Process Permanent
Yes, once the follicle is damaged beyond repair, the hair removal process is permanent. These follicles will stop regenerating and the hair will stop growing. Its important to note that this will not leave a hole in the skin. Once the follicle is damaged the skin will continue to close (just like healing of a cut) and the skin will close around the area leaving a smooth surface where the hair once grew. Once this process is complete, hair will never grow in that area again.