Answering Your Questions About Laser Hair Removal

Answering Your Questions About Laser Hair Removal

Carl W. Soderstrom, MD Board Certified Dermatologist

Unwanted facial and body hair is a common problem that can be a source of frustration for both men and women. Methods of removal like waxing, shaving and tweezing provide temporary results and can leave skin irritated. Today, many are turning to advanced laser technology to treat this problem.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in 2016, more than 1.1 million men and women chose laser to treat unwanted hair making it one of the most popular non-surgical cosmetic procedures in the country. Here are some of our most frequently asked questions:

Am I a good candidate for laser hair treatment?

Typically, patients with a combination of lighter skin tone and darker hair get the best results.

What parts of my body can be treated?  

The most common areas for women are the chin, upper lip, under arms, legs and the bikini line. For the men, it’s the back.

What causes my hair to grow?

Heredity and ethnic background are the primary influencers of hair growth. Excessive hair growth can result from biological changes like puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Other causes include certain medications, stress and hormonal problems.

How does the laser work?

The laser emits a light at a specific wavelength that is absorbed by the pigment (color) in the hair follicle – damaging the follicle and inhibiting future hair growth. Hairs become thinner and lighter in color, and some completely disappear. Repeated treatments are usually needed for best results.

Why does it take multiple treatments?

Your hair grows in cycles – when some hairs are active, others are dormant. During the active phase, the hair has enough pigment to absorb the laser energy and disable the follicle. In the dormant phase, there is not enough pigment to absorb the light. Over a period of time, those dormant hairs become active and can be treated.

How many treatments will I need?

It will vary with every patient, but you should see results in 6-8 treatments. Patients are normally seen every 4-8 weeks. About 10% – 25% reduction in growth can be expected with each treatment.

Periodic maintenance treatments may be needed.

Is the laser treatment painful?

Everybody’s pain tolerance is different. Many people have described the sensation as a rubber band snapping against the skin. If you find it uncomfortable, a topical numbing cream can be applied.

Is any recovery time needed?

No. You can return to work the same day. You may experience some redness, but this can be treated with recovery ointment.

Is it safe?

As with any treatment, there are potential risks including burns, scars and infection. These risks will be discussed during your consultation. Be sure your physician is part of the American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery. This means they have been trained and certified in this highly technical field of dermatology.

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