Voluntarily letting your delicate skin be penetrated by a hot laser – doesn’t that sound like an unpleasant form of high-tech torture? However, more and more women are increasingly choosing laser hair removal as the method they use to achieve smooth silky skin.
It works like this: A laser gets pulsed on your skin for a few milliseconds at a time. A beam of light is emitted which converts into heat as it harmlessly passes through your skin. The pigment melanin in your hair shaft and follicle absorbs the heat. This inhibits growth. Laser hair removal, contrary to what is commonly believed, doesn’t result in all hair being permanently removed (the only procedure resulting in permanent hair removal is electrolysis). Laser hair removal instead results in a number of hairs being permanently reduced.
Who Is Laser Hair Removal Best For?
The Institute of Laser Medicine, which is based in Los Angeles, reports that the best laser hair removal candidates have light skin and coarse, dark hair. Grey and white hair doesn’t respond to treatment due to lack of pigment, and it is hard to remove red and blond hair. Patients with hair that is lighter in color than the color of their skin – for example, blond haired patients with a tan – are unable to be treated.
Hair can be removed anywhere by lasers except the eyelashes. Some clinics don’t treat eyebrows because of how close they are to the eyes. The most common areas that are typically chosen to be treated by women are the legs, bikini area, underarms, neck, face, chin and upper lip. All shades of skin are treatable with the most recent laser technology, from Asian to African American to Caucasian skin. The Mayo Clinic reports that patients who are tanned – both faked and real – must wait until after their tan has faded; otherwise, they run the risk of skin blistering and discoloration.
How Painful Is The Process?
Given that laser hair removal is effective only on visible, short hairs, patients should shave the area being treated a couple of days prior to being treated and allow the hair to grow to stubble. Don’t pluck or wax the hair ahead of time, since the hair might not grow back in time prior to your procedure.
What does the process feel like? According to a Kelly, a 23-year-old woman whose bikini and underarms were being treated, a laser that is around two to three inches long is pushed against your skin for a couple of seconds. A faint buzzing noise can be heard and it feels like a bristly, hot hairbrush that is bouncing off of your skin. When asked how hot, she replied hot enough that it makes you nervous and described the heat like waving your hand close to a curling iron that is hot. The sensation has been described by other women undergoing laser hair removal as similar to a rubber band being snapped across their skin. Within a half an hour of the start of treatment, the area might become sensitive and pink. You might smell singed hair. This is normal. After the treatment is over, you might experience tenderness and swelling. Once thing that may help with pain is to apply a thick ointment layer containing the anesthetic lidocaine 45 minutes prior to being treated.
Hair will start to sprout again within 10 days of being treated. However, most likely this isn’t regrowth. What it is instead is hairs remaining that were not treated. In time, they will most likely fall out. However, given that hair grows in cycles that are staggered, several treatments will be necessary to ensure all hair gets treated during the active growth phase. It is recommended that you will need 4 to 10 sessions. Depending on how large your treatment area is, it might take minutes up to hours for a session to be completed.
Is The Treatment Worth It?
Laser hair removal, when compared to shaving, is definitely a more painful option. However, some might find it more appealing over the long run since it is permanent. According to a licensed aesthetician named Si, who no longer needs to shave her underarms after having them treated, the hair grows in slower and becomes visibly finer after three sessions.
Laser hair removal, however, is an expensive procedure and the fees can easily total into the thousands of dollars. Leg treatments may run $800 for just one session. One laser clinic in Cambridge, Massachusetts has prices for the upper lip that start at $75 per session, which is $600 minimum for a total of eight sessions. A salon lip waxing, by comparison, costs approximately $12 per sessions, which would cost around $100 for having it waxed every six weeks.