Laser hair removal has been the treatment of choice for men and women who want long-term reduction of unwanted body hair. The procedure directs laser energy at the pigment (melanin) in the hair. Heat from the laser triggers a resting phase in active hair follicles, so they produce no hair.
Laser hair removal has been done on nearly all parts of the body. A number of sessions are needed to reduce hair in a given area of the body, as hair grows in several phases. The laser only targets active follicles; therefore, several sessions are needed to target hair during all phases of growth. Several different types of lasers have been developed for hair removal, and your doctor will recommend the best one for you, depending upon your gender, skin and hair color, and both the thickness and coarseness of your hair.
Who should consider this treatment?
Both men and women seek laser hair removal, and it is typically done on the face, neck, ear lobes, shoulders, underarms, back, chest and abdomen, buttocks, pubic areas & bikini lines as well as on the cleavage, chest, arms, legs, hands, and toes. Most people can benefit from laser hair removal as long as they have some pigmentation to their hair, and it is most effective for those with dark hair and light skin. That's because the laser targets dark hair more easily without being directed to the lighter skin and the goal is to get the hair to absorb the laser light and not the skin. Therefore, it is least effective on those with very little pigment (white, blonde or light red hair).
It is also best for those with realistic expectations. It takes a series of treatments, followed by maintenance treatments over time to achieve the best results so you have to be committed to the idea of getting rid of unwanted hair. As time goes on, the interval between maintenance sessions gets longer.
How laser hair removal treatment works
Once the target areas have been determined, you will have your first treatment. Typically, a topical numbing cream is applied beforehand. The treatment itself has often been described as the sensation of a snapping rubber band. More delicate areas of the body may be more sensitive, but most people do quite well with their treatments, and feel that the outcome makes the process worthwhile.
What to Expect After Treatment
Because the skin around the hair follicles is impacted during treatment (to disable the follicle), it is typical to experience some redness, swelling and itching around the target areas. Some report tingling and numbness, as well, but these side effects are almost always resolved within three days. Since hair grows in different stages (phases), you will want to schedule a set of sessions to get the optimal benefit from laser hair removal. You'll notice that once you've had several treatments, hair in those areas is reduced (in thickness and in amount) for a long period of time. However, maintenance treatments are still usually required to keep an area free of hair, although they can be further spaced out between appointments as time goes by.
Risks of laser hair removal
The experience and skill level of the laser operator is very important. A laser used improperly can cause burns or scars, so it is always best to put yourself in the hands of a well trained doctor who can determine which laser is right for you and which settings will be both effective and safe. Your treatments will be determined by your coloring, the nature of your hair, and the treatment areas you choose. It is important to give yourself the best care possible, so seek an experienced professional (a doctor or a specialist supervised by the doctor.)
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