The Ultimate Guide to Laser Hair Removal
In the long term, the cost of laser hair removal is cheaper than the cost of hair removal products over your lifetime. But, there's always that one bad story you hear that makes you question if it's worth it, or if it will "work" for you. We get it, the idea of lasers on your skin in any way can be scary. The good news is that usually, your imagination is scarier than reality. Here are the answers to all of your laser hair removal questions.
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
Laser hair removal devices utilize light to effectively damage and ultimately destroy hair follicles. Lasers are either designed to target melanin or carbon.
Different wavelengths of light emit different colors. Different wavelengths of light are able to detect and target different depths of colors. This is how melanin-based lasers work.
The higher the contrast in color between the skin and hair follicle pigment, the more effective the treatment will be. This is why a dermatologist will ask you questions to identify your skin type during your consultation. This type of laser skin removal treatment can be less effective on people with dark skin, and very effective for people whose skin tone is significantly lighter than their hair color.
Newer lasers target carbon instead of melanin. Carbon can absorb light better than melanin. During this procedure, a carbon ointment is applied to the skin so that it can be absorbed by hair follicles. This makes it possible for the hair removal device to target melanin.
Hair grows in four phases. This is why laser hair removal requires multiple treatments roughly four weeks apart. A dermatologist will want to treat the same area of hair at each growth stage to permanently remove the hair. But, even the best-performed treatments require a touch-up every few years.
What's the Deal with All the Different Lasers?
If you start researching different types of lasers, you're likely to become somewhat overwhelmed by all of the types of lasers, brands, and technicalities. Different lasers can be better or worse for different skin tones and more or less painful.
Popular brand names of the ruby laser are the RubyStar, Palomar E2000, and EpiPulse Ruby. It's the "original" laser hair removal device that targets melanin. This makes contrast light and thin less painful but more treatments used for smaller areas
This type of laser is one of the most popular melanin lasers. It's one of the fastest working lasers. But, this also makes it painful.
Luckily, manufacturers have added cooling features to newer machines. This type of laser works on light and olive skin tones. Some of the brand names you might see are Candela, Cynosure Apogee, GentleLase, and EpiTouch Plus.
These types of lasers are newer and use semiconductors called diodes to target melanin. These types of lasers can penetrate deep into hair follicles which makes them better for darker skin types than the lasers mentioned above. These lasers are also better for d thicker, coarser hair types.
Due to their ability to remove, coarse hair diode lasers are a popular choice for men. This goes against the laser hair removal myth that some may believe, that these treatments are only for women. Popular brand names of this laser are SLP, F1 Diode, LightSheer, MeDioStar, SopranoXL, LaserLite, Epistar, and Apex.
ND:YAG lasers are some of the most advanced lasers on the market. They are a carbon laser that doesn't target melanin. These types of lasers can also be used to remove tattoos, resurface the skin, and correct sun damage. Popular brands include Cynosure, Candela, GentleYAG, Medlite IV, Lyra, Sciton, and Cutera.
Intense Pulsed Light Lasers
These types of lasers aren't actually lasers, they're technically lamps that emit wavelengths of light simultaneously. They produce thermal energy that can be absorbed by hair follicles, which destroys them. Popular Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) lasers on the market are Aculight, Quantum, Vasculight, Epilight, and PhotoDerm.
What's A Laser Hair Removal Visit Like?
As we mentioned earlier, your first laser hair removal appointment will be a consultation (at least it should be). During this visit, the dermatologist will ask you some basic health questions to make sure laser hair treatment is right for you. They will also assess your skin type.
A dermatologist will use something called the Fitzpatrick skin prototype to determine your type of skin tone. This is a scale that places the skin on one through six scales to determine skin type. This will help the dermatologist give you realistic expectations for the procedure.
The dermatologist will advise you to completely shave the area that needs to be treated prior to the appointment, not wax. There need to be enough hair follicles for the laser to detect. The shorter than hair, the more effective the treatment and the less painful.
The dermatologist may also ask you to not take certain medications prior to treatment. Specifically, those that are sensitive to light or can cause blood thinning. A dermatologist will also advise not to tan prior to the procedure.
During the procedure, you will have to wear goggles to protect your eyes from the laser's light. You'll experience some pain or discomfort depending on your skin type. Your skin will feel warm to the touch and maybe red or slightly swollen for 15 minutes to 24 hours after the procedure.
You'll be advised not to exercise or do anything that will cause your body to become hot within the next 24 hours. You'll also be advised to not expose the area to the sun.
Skin and Body Treatments You Can Trust
Even if it's your first or 15th cosmetic procedure, feeling comfortable and confident in the competency of your dermatologist is essential to a good laser hair removal experience. Our spa is staffed with experienced and licensed aestheticians and nurse practitioners who are dedicating to ensuring that you have the best possible treatment.
Are you considering laser hair removal? Contact us today!