If waxing, tweezing, and shaving does not make you happy, laser hair removal might be an option you want to consider. It is among the most common cosmetic procedures in the United States. Highly concentrated light is beamed into the hair follicles. Follicle pigment absorbs the light and destroys the hair.
Lasers remove unwanted hair from the bikini line, underarm, arm, leg, face, and other areas. Benefits include:
Lasers selectively target dark, coarse hair and leave the surrounding skin undamaged. Each pulse takes a fraction of a second. Many hairs can be treated at one time. The laser is capable of treating a quarter size area every second. Small areas like the upper lip take less than a minute. Large areas like the legs and back may take an hour. For most patients, permanent hair loss takes three to seven sessions.
Preparing for Laser Hair Removal
The treatment is more than ‘zapping’ unwanted hair. The procedure requires medical training and carries potential risks. Check the credentials of a technician or doctor that will perform the procedure. Limit electrolysis, waxing, and plucking for six weeks before having the procedure.
The laser targets roots of hair that are temporarily removed by plucking or waxing. Avoid sun exposure for both six weeks before treatment and six weeks after. Sun exposure makes after treatment complications more likely and the hair removal less effective.
Expectations During the Process
Before the procedure, hair undergoes a treatment to trim it to a few millimeters above the surface of the skin. Adjustments are made to the laser equipment based on location, thickness and color of the hair and the color of the skin. Depending on the laser technology used, the patient and technician wear appropriate eye protection.
The outer layers of skin are also protected with a special cooling device or cold gel. It helps the light of the laser penetrate the skin. After the initial plus of light, the technician watches the treatment area for a few minutes to ensure the best settings are being used and to spot any bad reactions. Cold water, anti-inflammation lotions or creams, or ice packs may be given after the completion of the procedure to ease any discomfort. A treatment is scheduled for four to six weeks down the road. Treatments continue until the hair stops growing.
Risks and Recovery
For one or two days after the procedure, the treated area will feel and look like it is sunburned. Moisturizers and cool compresses may help. You can wear makeup the following day as long as there is not blistering. Over the next four to five weeks the treated hair falls out.
Wear sunscreen during this time to prevent temporary color changes to the treated skin. Blisters do not occur often. They tend to develop in people who have darker complexions. Other possible side effects include scarring, redness, and swelling. Permanent skin color changes and scarring are rare.
Laser Hair Removal Costs
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons says the average cost is $235 per session. There are factors that impact the cost. They include:
- Time required for treatment
- Size of the treated area
- Number of required treatments
- Whether a doctor or technician performs the procedure
- The region of the country where the procedure is done
Ask for a consultation for a better idea for your situation.
Laser Hair Removal Certification
Technicians often have dual licenses such as physician assistants, nurses, or estheticians. Because of liability concerns, the demand is highest for technicians that have medical training or a skincare background. Some states permit only medical professionals to perform laser procedures.
The most up-to-date information is found by contacting the state department of health or medical board. Before enrolling in a laser technician program, most require a high school diploma or GED. Some trainees do on the job training at a licensed facility.
Trainees typically take laser safety courses approved by the industry and obtain apprentice credentials from a state licensing body. Practicing LHR technicians have to be registered and state-certified. It is becoming increasingly important to have national certification.
Choosing Laser Hair Removal Centers
The popular laser hair removal cosmetic treatment has a certain amount of risk. There are steps to follow in choosing a laser hair removal clinic that increases the odds of success.
- Ask who supervises the procedure. Each state regulates cosmetic treatments. There are states that do not require a doctor to perform or oversee the procedure. Choose a clinic where a doctor takes responsibility, even if a licensed technician is the one providing the treatment.
- Ask about the type of laser used.Ask if FDA-approved tools that are designed specifically for laser hair removal are used.
- Ask about the doctor’s or technician’s credentials and experience.Providers should not hesitate to show licensing documentation. Ask how long the individual has been performing the procedure and if he or she participates in ongoing training.
- Request photos of previous clients that were taken before and after the procedure. They provide a realistic idea for what a person can expect and showcases a technician’s or doctor’s work.
- Schedule an initial consultation.Visit the doctor’s office or clinic to ask questions in person, receive an overview of the procedure, and visit with the staff. Most respectable clinics offer consultations that are free of charge.
- Take a list of things you want to ask about technician experience, the treatment, and how to prep for the procedure.Be leery of a clinic that promises the hair removal will be permanent. The procedure significantly reduces unwanted hair. The FDA does not consider the procedure to be permanent. To maintain results, subsequent sessions are required.
- Ask about the cost before scheduling an appointment.Get a price estimate for all the sessions needed to achieve results.
- Inquire about financing options.Most insurance plans do not cover cosmetic procedure such as laser hair removal. Clinics and doctors often have payment options that make the procedure affordable.
Lasers have an excellent track record for accuracy and safety. They have been used for various medical procedures. A controlled amount of therapeutic heat is used to apply a burst of energy that is intense but gentle to targeted areas of skin. After the treatment, areas of the skin may appear red. Pain is typically transient and mild. Side effects are generally temporary and uncommon. The frequency of visits varies with individuals.
In the comment section below, tell us about laser hair removal experiences you have had or ask about any aspect of the treatment. I will find an answer for you.