If the thought of regular shaving, tweezing, or waxing makes you wince, you've probably given at least a little thought to the option of laser hair removal. Having a medical laser "magically" remove those unsightly hairs for extended periods of time can lend a new degree of freedom, comfort, and convenience to your lifestyle. But like any other medical procedure, this cosmetic treatment strategy merits careful consideration. Think about these important aspects of laser hair removal before deciding whether to book that first treatment session.
Your Skin and Hair Characteristics
If you have dark hair and light-colored skin, you're one of the many people who can benefit from practically any kind of laser hair removal technique. This color/contrast combination is ideal because darker pigments attract more of the laser's heat, allowing for more effective hair removal with fewer potential side effects for the skin (such as discoloration). The good news is that modern methods now allow darker-skinned individuals or people with light-colored hair to get good results from laser hair removal as well. The secret is to make sure that your provider uses the right tools, such as an Nd:YAG laser (which produces a longer wavelength of laser energy that is more suitable for light-colored hair) or a dual-wavelength laser (which can produce longer or shorter wavelengths for different degrees of pigmentation).
The Laser Hair Removal Experience
While you may find laser hair removal a much easier and more manageable approach than old-fashioned hair removal methods, you still need to know what to expect from the experience itself. For example, removing a few hairs from your lip or chin might take only a few minutes per session, but removing hair from a large area of the body might take an hour or more -- so budget your time accordingly. You should also be prepared for some minor irritation and redness for a couple of days following the treatment. Your treatment may go more easily if you shave the treatment site before your appointment; this step can also help to reduce irritation.
Number and Duration of Treatments
Laser hair removal can provide long-lasting results, but don't expect to find yourself completely hairless for life after a single treatment. For one thing, the hairs will fall out over a period of days or weeks after being treated. You can then expect to go for months (if you've treated hair that tends to regrow more quickly) or even years (if you've treated hair that grows slowly) before you need another session. Your provider may recommend a series of 6 or more treatments. Repeated treatments gradually lead to less hair regrowth, with the new hair typically appearing finer and lighter in color than before.
Now that you understand more about how laser hair removal works and what you can expect from it, you should be better equipped to decide whether this cosmetic procedure makes sense for your needs. Contact your local laser hair removal center to learn more.