Laser hair removal is becoming increasingly popular as a way to help people free themselves from the routine of having to shave or wax certain areas of their body on a regular basis. In fact, laser hair removal is now one of the most frequently performed cosmetic procedures in the United States.
How Does It Work?
It involves directing highly concentrated beams of light into the hair follicles. The pigment that is found in the follicles absorbs the light. This not only destroys hair that is there right now; it damages the follicle and stops hair from growing back.
Is Laser Hair Removal Effective?
It is generally very effective, although exactly how effective depends on the color of your skin and the color of the hair that you want removed. It’s quite effective at selectively targeting dark hairs and getting rid of them while leaving the skin around the hair undamaged.
The procedure is quite fast. Each pulse of the laser can remove several hairs at the same time, and each pulse takes less than one second. This means that an area such as the upper lip could be treated in just a minute, and a large area, such as a leg, could be treated in an hour.
Is Laser Hair Removal Safe?
It is important to note that while laser hair removal is quite fast and generally not a major procedure, it is far more than just quickly “zapping” your hair to get rid of it. It is a medical procedure, and it does require proper training to carry it out properly. Before you have your hair removed, you should make sure that the company offering the service is using the right kind of laser and the doctor or technician who is performing the procedure is fully trained.
In preparation for the procedure, it is a good idea to limit the amount of waxing and plucking that you do for six weeks before the procedure. Avoid electrolysis too. The reason for this is that the laser targets the roots of the hair, and these are temporarily removed when you wax or pluck your hair.
Another thing that you should do is avoid sun exposure both six weeks before the treatment, and for several weeks after the treatment. Sun exposure darkens your skin, and this can make the treatments less effective. In addition, you run the risk of complications after treatment if you allow your skin to be exposed to the sun.
What Happens During Treatment
The exact method of treatment can differ depending on the laser that is being used. In some cases you will need to wear eye protection, but this is not always necessary. The technician will most likely apply some gel or cream to the skin to protect it while still allowing the laser to penetrate the skin.
Before treatment commences, the technician will apply a single pulse of light to the area that is being treated, and will then watch the area for several minutes, waiting to make sure that the settings that were OK for your skin. They are watching for bad reactions.
Once the procedure has completed, they will give you some anti-inflammatory cream and some ice packs to ease the discomfort. You will most likely need more than one treatment to stop the hair growing back. You should schedule your treatments between four and six weeks apart.
For a couple of days after the treatment, your skin may feel like it has been sunburned. Do not put makeup on the affected skin for at least 24 hours after the treatment. If your skin is blistering, wait for the blisters to heal before you start to use cosmetics. Be sure to apply sunscreen to the treated area before you go outside, to prevent the skin from changing color.
Blistering is not a serious problem – some people experience and some people do not, but it is nothing to worry about if it happens to you. Some people experience swelling or minor scarring, but it should be only temporary. It is very rare for permanent scaring to happen.
How Long Will It Last?
After the initial sessions (usually six), you’ll need to go for ‘maintenance treatments’ every 3 to 6 months. Then it’ll probably stretch to a yearly session. Some people have gone on to become hair-free for a few years after their laser treatments.
Laser hair removal can be expensive, depending on the size of the area being treated, but it is worth it in the long term, because it is something that will save you a lot of money. Once you are hair-free in the treated area you will never need to spend money on razors, creams, wax or other hair removal treatments again. As long as you choose the right technician, and take good care of your skin both before and after the treatment, you will enjoy smooth, soft and silky skin for a long, long time.
Image Credits: WebMD.com