Everything You Need to Know About Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal is one of the most popular cosmetic treatments, and it’s easy to see why -- it’s great to get out of the shaving, waxing, and plucking routine. If you’re ready to take that step, you probably have some questions about what to expect, so Dr. Thakur created this overview to give you the facts about laser hair removal.

How do lasers safely target hair but not your skin?

Lasers can safely eliminate hair without causing harm to the rest of your skin because the laser energy is only absorbed by specific colors. As a result, the laser can treat pigmented tissues like veins, brown spots -- and melanin in hair follicles -- without damaging the surrounding skin.

Different characteristics of a laser, like its wavelength and pulse duration, can be adjusted to customize each patient’s treatment, making laser hair removal effective for many shades of hair and every type of skin. However, a few colors  - blonde, white, and red hair - don't respond. The laser needs to pick up the color in the hair.

How does a laser eliminate hair?

Hair follicles, or roots, heat up as they absorb laser energy. When they’re heated to a specific temperature, the follicle breaks down and is destroyed, which means it won’t be able to grow new hair.

What are the benefits of the Cynosure® and Cutera® laser systems?

At our practice, two laser systems are used to ensure she can provide the best treatment for each patient. The Cutera laser system works well for quick treatment of large areas such as your back or chest. This system is very fast, and has a cooling sapphire lens that makes the procedure very comfortable.

The Cynosure technology offers two wavelengths in one system, which means she can choose the best treatment for your hair and skin type by easily switching between wavelengths.

Why do you need several treatments for optimal results?

You need several laser treatments because of the way hair grows. Each hair follicle goes through a three-phase growth cycle: It grows hair, then goes through a short transitional stage before the follicle goes into a resting phase. The hair falls out during the resting phase, then after a few months a new hair begins to grow and the cycle repeats.

Here’s how that affects hair removal: Lasers can only destroy the hair follicle when it’s in the growth phase of the cycle.

Since each hair operates on its own timing, and they’re in different phases at different times, you can’t get just one laser treatment. We treat every 4 weeks and offer a 6-pack treatment package for additional savings. This enables us to catch all the hair follicles while they’re growing.

What parts of your body can be treated?

The short answer is every body part. With the versatility of two laser systems, you can have hair removed from your:

How should you prepare for laser hair removal?

You’ll need to plan for laser hair removal because there are a few steps to take before your appointment, such as:

How long does treatment take?

The time it takes depends on the size of the area being treated. Treating your upper lip may take less than five minutes, while your back could take 30 minutes or longer.

Will you need topical anesthesia?

The laser systems have integrated cooling that keeps your skin comfortable. Each pulse of the laser, however, is often described as feeling like a light rubber band snap.

What should you expect during laser hair removal?

If you haven’t shaved, the hair undergoing treatment is trimmed. Then the area is cleansed, numbing cream is applied (if desired), and you’ll put on protective eyewear.

The handpiece is manually operated, so it’s simply placed against your skin. A laser pulse is emitted, then the handpiece is moved to the next area of skin, and the laser pulse is triggered again. This is repeated until the entire area has been treated.

What should you expect after your hair removal session?

Your skin may be slightly red or swollen after your session, much like a sunburn. This clears up in a few days. In the meantime, you can use a cool compress to diminish swelling and soothe the area. You won’t need to take recovery time, but you will need to protect the treated area from sun exposure until it’s fully healed.

When will you see results?

You’ll see some results right after your session, but expect the treated hair to fall out gradually over the next few weeks.

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