Laser Hair Removal

How to Prepare for and What to Expect From Laser Hair Removal

If you're tired of tweezing, waxing, or shaving your unwanted hair, you may benefit from laser hair removal. Laser hair removal is a common cosmetic procedure that many people use to remove unwanted hair.

Laser hair removal works by gradually killing off the actively growing hair follicles in a treated area over a period of time. This is made possible by using the laser to specifically target the melanin within hair follicles. Melanin, which normally gives hair its natural color, absorbs this laser energy causing the hair follicle to heat up. The result is the hair follicle essentially being cooked to death by the laser.  The laser, however, only works on actively growing hair. This is why all laser hair removal treatment protocols are performed over a period of time given that only 20-25% of an individual’s hair is actively growing at any given moment in time.

If you're considering laser hair removal, use the following tips on how to prepare and what to expect during your treatment.

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How to Prepare

The first step to the hair removal process is scheduling a consultation with your local hair removal specialist. At this appointment, your doctor will determine if you are a good candidate for hair removal.

Some factors that determine if you are a good candidate include the following:

  • You have dark hair and light skin. Blonde and red haired individuals do not usually respond well to laser hair removal. These individuals lack the melanin necessary for the laser to do its job.
  • You are not taking medications that could interfere with treatment.

If you are found to be a good candidate, you can now discuss possible treatment plans. Most patients require up to six sessions of laser treatment to eliminate the majority of their hair. Despite some claims, laser hair removal will not completely remove all hair in the treated areas. Even when performed correctly, most patients will be left with fine, light colored peach fuzz. The original coarse pigmented hair should be gone.  Your doctor can help you determine how many sessions you will need, and whether touch up sessions will be required down the road.

Before you start, here are some ways you can prepare for your hair removal treatments:

  • Avoid getting too much sun or too tan prior to your treatment. The darker the skin, the more your skin will absorb the laser energy. Thus increasing the likelihood that side effects such as laser burns can occur.
  • Lasers used in treatment will also target unwanted hair follicles, so it is important to shave any areas that will undergo treatment before your appointment. Not shaving can cause lasers to target hairs above the skin, rather than the actual hair follicles. Waxing or plucking hair prior to your appointment is not usually recommended. These waxing and plucking techniques can cut the hair below skin level and thus make it more difficult for the laser to actually find its target.

You can also prepare for your treatment by learning what to expect during the treatment process. You can feel more relaxed by arriving at your appointments fully aware of what to expect.

What to Expect

The procedure for laser hair removal varies by doctor office. Talk with your doctor to help you understand what you can expect during treatment. Most treatments start by having the doctor prep the treatment area by trimming any excess hair.

Once prepped, the doctor will have you wear some protective goggles. These goggles helps to protect everyone involved from inadvertent laser injuries to the eye.

Your doctor will then adjust the laser equipment to your skin color, hair thickness, and treatment location. He or she will also test a small portion of your treatment area to make sure the equipment settings are correct and that your skin will react well. Once all equipment is in place, your doctor will proceed with the hair removal process.

Most hair removal offices use handheld lasers to perform the hair removal procedure.

When activated, the laser targets the tiny hair follicle sacs in your skin where hair grows. The laser beam sends intense heat to this area to damage the follicle and stop hair growth.

After your doctor finishes the removal treatment, he or she may offer you an anti-inflammatory lotion or ice pack to reduce discomfort. You may need treatments every four to six weeks until the hair in your treatment area stops growing. Most treatments to small areas only last a few minutes. If you plan to remove hair from larger areas, treatment could last an hour or more.

Now that you know what to expect and how to prepare for laser hair removal, talk to your doctor about treatment today. You can trust the professionals at the Sheen Vein Institute for all of your hair removal needs.

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