Laser Hair Removal
Excess hair can be a result of certain hormones, medication use, or genetic predisposition. Of course, even a small amount of hair can be undesirable when it is located in an obvious or unusual area or when it is thick or dark in color. Numerous methods exist to remove unwanted hair including shaving, waxing, using a depilatory cream, and electrolysis. Unfortunately, all these treatments provide only temporary results. Even electrolysis has failed to produce permanent hair removal in most cases.
Specific lasers to target hair follicles have been developed to treat unwanted hair effectively. The laser emits a beam of light that is attracted to the pigment or melanin in the hair follicle that is in an active growing cycle. Predetermined settings of pulse duration and energy are directed at and absorbed by the hair follicle, disabling the follicle so that it does not produce hair.
The following factors should be considered in your decision to undergo laser treatment:
1. Results vary from one person to the next. No two people are alike as to hair color and skin color. Laser hair reduction treatments must be individualized from patient to patient.
2. Repeat treatments are required for laser hair reduction, usually 5–7 treatments, 4–8 weeks apart. Touchup treatments may be required for some individuals.
3. Typically, 70–90% of the hair can be reduced permanently. There is nothing available that will prevent new hair from growing in the future.
4. If you have an active infection of herpes simplex in the treatment area, treatment will not be able to be performed until it clears. If you have a history of herpes simplex in the area, anti-viral medication is recommended prior to the start of each treatment.
5. Since laser is attracted to the pigment in the hair follicle, if your hair is gray, white, blonde, red or light and fine, there may not be enough pigment in the follicle to be successfully treated with the laser. If this applies to you, we may want to try a test spot to see if your hair responds to the laser.
6. You should not have laser treatments for hair removal if you are pregnant.
7. Innovative Aesthetics uses 2 different lasers for hair removal. One laser is called a LightSheer. This laser is normally used to treat people with Fitzpatrick skin types I – IV. The other laser we have for hair removal is called a Smartepil. This laser is used to treat people of color and people with tanned skin.
What to Expect During a Laser Hair Reduction Treatment
The area being treated is cleaned. A topical numbing cream may be applied approximately 20 minutes prior to the laser treatment. The numbing cream is then removed and a cool gel is applied. During treatment, an air cooling system is used to increase patient comfort. The laser treatment does have a slight prickly or stinging sensation. Some hairs will extrude immediately. Hairs will continue to shed for up to three weeks. Immediately after the treatment, the area is cleaned and aloe vera and a 1% hydrocortisone cream are applied. Sunscreen will be also applied if the area treated with the laser is exposed to daylight. Most patients tolerate the laser treatment without difficulty.
Side Effects of Laser Hair Reduction
The most common side effects are transient redness and swelling. Transient changes in skin pigmentation may occur as well as pain and blistering.
Prior to commencing laser hair reduction treatment, do not tan for three weeks prior to the procedure. Stop using self-tanning products on the treated areas one week prior to laser treatment. Do not wear makeup, lotion, or deodorant over the areas to be treated on the day of your laser treatment. Shave the skin to be treated the same day as your appointment. Do not wax, pluck or tweeze the area for at least four weeks prior to the first laser treatment. You may shave before the first treatment and between treatments but no waxing, plucking, or tweezing between treatments. If the area being treated with the laser is exposed to daylight, wear sunscreen every day.
Retin-A products, glycolic products, and hydroquinone need to be stopped for 2 days prior to and 5 days after any laser treatment session. If you have used Accutane within the last 6 months, we will not be able to treat you.
As previously stated, discontinue use of strong topical skincare agents for about 5 days after the laser treatment. Keep the area clean and moist. Keep sunscreen on any exposed area.