Answering Questions About Laser Hair Removal
By now you've probably heard about laser hair removal and might even know someone who's had it done. Our laser technicians have been performing this procedure for over 15 years at Advanced Laser Clinic and we would like to answer your most common questions.
What does "LASER" mean?
It's actually an acronym that stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The term "radiation" is sometimes misinterpreted because the term is also used to describe radioactive materials. The use of the word LASER in this context, however, refers to an energy transfer. Energy moves from one location to another by conductions and cannot alter DNA structure.
How does it work?
Lasers cause localized damage to the hair by selectively heating dark target matter, melanin, in the area that causes hair growth, the follicle, while not heating the rest of the skin. The heat from the laser destroys the root of the follicle, thus preventing its growth.
Are all lasers created equal?
No. In order for laser hair removal to be most effective you MUST use a laser designed specifically for hair removal. Some smaller salons are known to use a form of hair removal done by an IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) or BBL (Broad Band Light).
This is a wonderful machine for other applications, but NOT for laser hair removal. There is not enough energy transferred to the hair follicle to truly destroy that follicle. At Advanced Laser Clinic, we use a Lumenis Lightsheer Duo which is a Diode Laser designed specifically for hair removal.
Can ALL hair colors and skin tones be treated?
No. Laser does not work well on light-colored hair, grey hair, white hair, and sometimes red hair. It also works the best for hair that is coarse. Really fine hair such as vellus hair does not respond to laser as well.
Our Lumenis Lightsheer is made to treat all skin tones, but does not like tanned skin. During consultation, we will encourage you to avoid any sun exposure if possible or to wear plenty of sunscreen. Laser hair removal is most effective on dark hair with lighter skin, so results do vary which we explain in consultation.
How many treatments are needed?
Hair follicles grow in several phases (anagen, telogen, catagen) and laser can only affect the currently active growing hair follicles (anagen phase). The actual number of sessions depends on various parameters, including the area of the body being treated, skin color, coarseness of hair, any hormonal imbalances and age.
Here are the average number of treatments:
- Face: 6-8 treatments every 6-9 weeks
- Body: 6-8 treatments every 10-12 weeks.
At Advanced Laser Clinic, we do a 6 treatment session with an additional year of FREE maintenance treatments if needed. If for some reason, usually due to hormone imbalances, more treatments are needed we have a minimal maintenance fee for future treatments.
Is the process 100% permanent?
Sometimes, but there are several causes for variations in results. We will not mislead you to think that you will NEVER have to shave again. We will tell you that a vast majority of our patients are extremely pleased with their results.
During the consult, we will explain about dormant hair follicles that are NOT affected by the laser and may decide to grow as you age. On average, about 80-90% of your hair will be effected by laser hair removal if it falls into the parameters mentioned above.
What are the most common side-effects and risks?
During treatment: discomfort which is tolerable – feels light a tiny prick on the skin and is warm to hot feeling. We do have topical numbing agents if needed here at the office.
Post treatment (most common): itching, redness, and swelling (perifollicular edema) around the treatment area. These side effects rarely last more than three days.
Unwanted side effects and risks: hypo- or hyper-pigmentation, blistering, scarring, skin texture changes, flare of acne, swelling around the hair follicle, scab formation, purpura, infection and burning of the skin.
Obviously these are very rare but do happen. It is very important that you seek a clinic that has experienced technicians and up to date equipment. Advanced Laser Clinic has been doing hair removal now for 15 years with trained technicians that have been here that whole time. We also have a physician on staff to assist us with any complications that might occur.
What are the contraindications?
Contraindications mean that if you have any of these conditions or are taking any of the medicines listed, you CANNOT be treated. We will talk to you in depth during consultation to see if you are a good candidate for laser hair removal:
- Pregnant (we let the patient talk to their OB/GYN to decide if they should wait or continue)
- Light induced seizures
- Anyone taking photo-sensitive medicines. If so, you'll need to wait 3 weeks once you're finished.
- Accutane (need to be off for 6 months)
- History of skin cancer
- Suspicious pigmented lesions
- Herpes (pre-treat with an antiviral drug such as Valtrex, but if active, cannot be treated until dormant again)
How do I prepare for laser hair removal?
- No waxing, tweezing, or electrolysis for 4 weeks prior.
- If you have fair skin (skin types I -III), no sun exposure for at least 4 weeks.
- If you have darker skin (types IV – VI), no sun for 3-5 days.
- No threading for 10 days
- No self-tanner for 14 days
- Shave the area being treated the same day or the night before
How much does it cost?
Prices vary from clinic to clinic as well as different regions of the US. Price also depends on how large of area we are treating. We have our prices on our website as well as we give them over the phone if you call us.
Our costs range from $49.95 – $399.95 depending on area of the body and face we are treating. We have package pricing which gives you significant discounts as well as VIP referrals and special discounts.
We hear over and over that laser hair removal is "an investment in freedom". If you take into consideration the amount of money we all spend on razors, waxing or the time needed to pluck, it is money well spent.
These are just a few of the questions we are consistently asked about Laser Hair Removal. If you have any other specific questions, please contact our office. We would love to answer your questions and walk you through the steps of this process. Life can be "hairy enough" so why not start today toward a hair-free life?