What is laser hair removal?
Laser hair removal is a noninvasive technique that uses highly concentrated light to penetrate hair follicles. The laser light is absorbed by the pigment in the hair shaft in the follicle-generating heat which damages the follicle to inhibit future hair growth. Therefore, plucking hair before treatment reduces the efficacy of the laser treatment as the target is absent.
Because laser hair removal only affects actively growing hair follicles, it may take several laser hair removal treatments to provide significant hair reduction. Additionally, while laser hair removal effectively slows hair growth, it doesn’t guarantee permanent hair removal. Periodic maintenance treatments may be needed.
What are the steps of a laser hair removal procedure?
Your plastic surgeon may perform the laser hair removal procedure, or may delegate this to a nurse or other licensed provider.
A beam of highly focused light is absorbed by hair in disabling unwanted hair follicles. There is some mild discomfort that last a few seconds. People with white or gray hair may not have enough pigment target to be a candidate for laser hair removal.
Because hair grows in cycles, it typically takes three to four laser hair removal treatments to provide significant hair reduction.
What are the risks of laser hair removal?
Laser hair removal doesn’t guarantee permanent hair removal. Some hair could be resistant to the laser treatment or grow again after treatment — although the new hair growth might be finer and lighter in color.
Possible laser hair removal side effects include:
- Mild swelling around the hair follicles
- Pigment changes may occur, especially in those with darker skin. These changes are usually temporary
- Slight redness of the skin
- Temporary irritation resulting in blistering, crusting, scarring or other changes in skin texture
Special care must be taken for those with darker skin. A less intensive laser should be used to avoid damaging the outer skin.
Anyone who has tanned, used a spray tan or gone to a tanning booth should wait until the tan has faded as the pigment in the skin absorbs the laser light and reduces the effectiveness of the treatment