Why should you use a laser to remove hair?
Lasers can target pigmented hair while leaving the skin around the laser treatment unaffected. With each pulse of the laser, you can treat many hairs. Each pulse only takes a fraction of a second. Compare this with electrolysis and you will see that laser hair removal is much more precise and faster.
Does laser hair removal really work?
The results are quite predictable. 90% of patients usually have permanent hair loss. 10% percent of patients, no matter what you do, hair loss just does not happen. Usually after each session, most of the treated hairs by the laser fallout. After about six weeks the hair follicles that have survived gradually start growing back. But on the average with each session, approximately one third of the hairs' treated never return back and, therefore, are permanently removed.
The remaining hairs tend to be lighter in color and also smaller in size. Patients typically, on the average, are satisfied with three to five treatments separated by two months apart. Patients that have darker colored skin may need more sessions as their skin may require lower energy levels in order to be a safe treatment.
Will it work for me individually?
A consultation is required to determine if you really are a suitable candidate for a laser hair removal procedure. Dark, coarse hairs on any part of the body usually respond well. As a rule, very fine or very lightly colored hair whether it's white, gray, or red, do not respond well to treatment.
Patients with dark complexions really need to be treated cautiously because the dark skin interferes with the laser light even before reaching the hair. With the latest technology available, there is some flexibility to treat a wide variety of patients effectively and safely.
What should I do before treatments?
Prior to treatments some protection from the sun is recommended. Usually for at least a month in advance. Tan skin increase the pigmentation and this can compete with the laser light. This can result in less effective sessions with a higher chance of side effects. The hairs in the areas that you want treated must be short but visible. It is very important not to pluck or wax the hair for a month prior to the treatments.
How long does each session usually last?
The treatment is relatively quick but also depends on the amount of hair to be treated. The laser can treat the hairs about the size of a quarter every second. A small area like the upper lip can be treated in less than a minutes, while large areas like the back or the legs may need up to an hour.
Will it hurt?
An anesthetic cream is usually recommended to numb the skin before treatments. This you will need to speak with the doctor and he can discuss with you which cream would be effective. The procedure is usually tolerated well with a mild sensation of heat tingling or stinging.
What should I expect after the Treatment?
The laser hair treatment area looks and feels much like a sunburn that usually last one to two days. You can use a cool compress and moisturizers. The area treated pretty much is usually pain-free the day after. Makeup can usually be used after the treatment unless there are blisters. Blisters, though not common, are more likely to happen in patients with darker skin. The lasered hair falls out over a month period and should not frighten you. Also, you should use sun protection for a month afterwards so it won't change the pigment in your skin. Changes that sometimes may occur, which are permanent undesirable side effects, are scarring or skin color changes, though rare.
Again you really need to speak with a doctor before you even consider having laser hair removal. This is only general information and not to be taken as the only answers to these questions.
Copyright 2005 Fern Kuhn, RN
Specializing in Diabetes
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