Shaving, tweezing, and waxing are some of the most common forms of hair removal. However, these methods may have unintended consequences, such as ingrown hairs and infection. For these reasons, many women are forgoing the razors and opting for laser therapy as their preferred hair removal technique.
Laser hair removal is a popular cosmetic procedure throughout Canada. In this procedure, a concentrated beam of laser light is used to eliminate hair. Pigments in the hair absorb the lasers, and the light energy converts to heat. The heat damages the hair follicles, which hinders or prevents hair growth.
Laser hair removal successfully prevents hair growth, but the procedure does not result in immediate permanent hair loss. Several treatments are typically required to remove hair permanently, and separate treatments may be necessary for maintenance.
The popularity of laser hair removal is, in part, due to its wide use. This technique is commonly used on the bikini line, legs, chin, and armpits. You can get treatments on virtually anywhere on the body except for the area around your eyes and eyelids.
The success of laser hair treatments is influenced by your skin type and hair color. The laser should be absorbed by the pigments in the hair and not the skin. Contrasting hair and skin color, i.e., light skin and dark hair, usually produces the best results. The goal is for the laser to only damage the hair follicle and avoid damaging the skin.
Skin damage is more likely to occur in people who do not have much contrast between their hair and skin color. However, new laser technology has made techniques available to treat darker-skinned people. More work is needed to develop laser hair removal techniques for people with lighter-colored hair, and hair that does not absorb light, such as gray and red.
Benefits of Laser Hair Removal
Quick hair removal. A pulse from a laser can treat multiple hairs at the same time in a fraction of a second. The length of your session depends on the area that you are getting treated. Smaller areas such as the lip and chin can take a few minutes to treat, whereas larger areas such as the legs and back can take up to an hour.
Longlasting results. With traditional methods of hair removal like waxing and shaving, hair may begin to grow back in a matter of days. With lasers, hair that is effectively removed will not grow back for months or years. When the hair does grow back, it is lighter and finer than before. For some, the hair follicle is damaged permanently, and the hair does not grow back.
Precision. Laser technology can precisely target coarse, dark hairs without damaging the surrounding skin.
How to Prepare for Treatment
If you think laser hair removal is right for you, look for doctors who are board-certified and have experience with laser hair removal. Try to avoid salons and spas that permit unlicensed personnel to perform these procedures.
Before your first session, you will have a consultation with a professional to evaluate whether you are a candidate for laser hair removal. This consult typically involves a review of your medical history, a discussion of risks and benefits, and photos taken for long-term case reviews. Your treatment plan and its costs should also be discussed during the consultation - these procedures are generally not covered by health insurance plans.
Prior to treatment, you should avoid the sun, skin-lightening products, blood thinners, and plucking or waxing. Shaving is recommended a day or two prior to treatment. This eliminates long hairs that can burn the skin but leaves the shaft intact for the lasers to target.
What to Expect
For more permanent results, you will typically need multiple treatments. The time between treatments depends on the location – in areas where hair grows quickly, treatments occur every four to eight weeks. In areas where hair grows slowly, treatments occur every three to four months.
During your treatments, you will wear special goggles that protect your eyes from the lasers. You will be shaved if you did not shave, or did not shave well enough. Some practitioners use topical anesthetics on the skin to help alleviate pain or discomfort during the session.
During the Session
A hand-held laser instrument is pressed against your skin. Once activated, the laser beam travels through the skin to the hair follicles. The heat from the lasers damages the hair follicles, thus preventing further hair growth. Pain and discomfort are common; however, most laser devices are equipped with a cooling device that produces a cold sensation that alleviates the discomfort.
After the Session
For the first few hours after your laser hair removal, your skin might be swollen, red, and painful. If you feel discomfort, apply ice to the area. In the case of a skin reaction, your doctor might apply a steroid cream to reduce inflammation.
It is important to avoid excessive sun exposure as directed by your practitioner. You should also remember to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect treated areas daily.
As with any procedure, there are some risks of laser hair removal. The most common side effects and risks include:
- Red, swollen, and itchy skin
- Small bumps on the skin
These symptoms typically subside a few days after treatment. However, there are other uncommon side effects and risks, including:
- Hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation
- Allergic reactions
Laser hair removal is usually not recommended for women who are pregnant or who may be pregnant. There is not enough research available that analyzes the effects of lasers on fetuses.
Your hair will begin to shed over the next few days to weeks and may mimic hair growth. Subsequent treatments are recommended because hair grows and sheds according to a natural cycle, and a laser hair removal Port Coquitlam treatment is most effective when hair follicles are in the new-growth phase.
Individual results vary from person to person, and your final results are not easy to predict. Most people have hair removal last for several months or longer, but laser hair removal techniques are not a guaranteed method for permanent hair loss. In the long-term, you may require additional treatments to maintain your hair loss.
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