Laser Hair Removal Treatments Procedure FAQ's
What is laser hair removal?
The FDA defines permanent hair reduction as “the long-term, stable reduction in the number of hairs regrowing after a treatment regime, which may include several sessions. The number of hairs regrowing must be stable over a time period greater than the duration of the complete growth cycle of hair follicles, which varies from 4 to 12 months according to body location.”
What is this normal growth cycle for hair?
The hair cycle has four stages, active growth (anagen), regression (catagen), resting with an anchored club hair (telogen), and exogen (when the hair is shed). Anagen is deemed to be the stage of the cycle most susceptible to laser hair removal.
What is a laser?
A laser is a device that produces light of a single color or wavelength. Lasers produce pulses of high-energy light that is taken up by the desired target pigment (chromophore). In the case of laser hair removal, the target is the melanin pigment contained within the hair shaft.
What is melanin?
Melanin exists in the plant and animal kingdoms and serves as a dark pigment. This pigment is visible in human hair and is the primary determinant of human skin color.
How does laser hair removal work?
Laser hair removal is the use of laser energy to produce long-term hair reduction. This is accomplished by heating the hair, which is transferred to the hair follicle, which in-turn produces inflammation, and this inflammation sends a signal to the hair follicle to go into the resting (telogen) phase. The laser is directed onto the skin, where the laser high-energy light becomes absorbed by melanin located in the hair follicles. Once absorbed, the light transforms into heat, destroying the entire part of the follicle responsible for the growth of new hair. Due to the fact that a laser targets melanin, the more melanin an individual has in his/her hair, the more effective a laser will be.
What are the different types of lasers used for hair removal?
There are several laser and laser-like devices currently used for hair removal. Some of the more common ones are detailed below:
Alexandrite: The long-pulse alexandrite laser accomplishes deep penetration into the skin where the hair follicles are located. The heat build-up in the hair shafts disables those follicles in the active growth phase.
Diode: The diode laser is a very efficient device that contains small diodes or semiconductors that are arranged together to produce light. The diode laser has a longer wavelength than other lasers used for hair removal, which may improve treatment results on darker skin types. Dr. Zdinak uses the LightSheer™ diode laser, the most advanced treatment for effective removal of unwanted hair.
Light based sources: Intense pulsed light devices operate on similar principles to lasers. Using the photoepilation process, the device offers a broad spectrum of light to treat a variety of hair and skin colors as well as hair depths. Some of the light-based sources include Q-Switched Nd:Yag and Ruby lasers.
What does “photoepilation” mean?
Photoepilation destroys the hair follicle using flashes of light. The hair absorbs the light projected by the device and the intense heat destroys it.
Will Laser Hair Removal work for me?
Laser hair removal is not for everyone. The absolute requirement is that one’s hair must be darker than the surrounding skin. Additionally, very darkly pigmented people absorb too much laser energy in their skin and are not candidates for most lasers. These dark skinned patients require the use of highly specialized lasers. Tanned patients with light hair are not candidates. Tanned patients with dark hair cannot be treated with the usual hair removal lasers. Pregnant women cannot have laser hair removal.
Does skin color impact upon laser hair removal success?
Light skin makes laser hair removal easier to perform. Fewer treatments are required, and better, faster results are obtained. People with darker skin can be treated, but results are slower, more sessions are required, and greater expertise is required on the part of the laser center. Laser hair removal must be individualized for each patient.
Does hair color impact upon laser hair removal success?
Dark hair absorbs more laser energy and is easier to treat. Coarse dark hair responds the best to laser treatment. Light hair is more difficult to treat. Blonde or red hair is very difficult to treat. Multiple treatment sessions are required, and results are variable. Blonde or red hair usually contains pheomelanin, which absorbs laser energy less avidly than the eumelanin pigment which is present in black or brown hair.
What is “Home Laser Hair Removal?”
There are certain laser hair removal machines that are sold for personal use in the home. However, it is strongly advised that experienced professionals perform laser hair removal sessions. A patient is at an advantage with professionals performing the laser hair removal process, as they know how to operate the machines so as to produce the best results. Additionally, they can complete the task in a safe manner. Home laser removal products use a variation on Intense Pulsed Light, the light source used by physicians, only the light source for home use delivers less energy that the machine used in the physician’s office. Unlike the more permanent clearance of hair obtained by professional laser hair removal, home use devices are designed to cause the hair to assume a state of temporary dormancy, without destroying the hair follicle’s ability to eventually regrow the hair. Dr. Zdinak is a licensed distributor of the Silk’n™ at home personal hair removal system manufactured by HomeSkinovations. Silk’n™ is available only through a physician.
What are the advantages of Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal is a non-invasive method of photoepilation, which does not require needles or chemical creams. The technique is safe if performed properly, and many consumers have experienced long-lasting hair removal or even permanent hair reduction.
What are the limitations/disadvantages of laser hair removal?
Although laser hair removal is an excellent treatment option, some patients may experience hair regrowth. However, this hair is usually finer and lighter in color. Possible side effects, though rare, include redness, swelling, burns, and possible damage to the surrounding healthy tissue resulting in scar. The process is also not as effective on unpigmented (gray) hairs, and red or blonde hair.
Why can’t I have laser hair removal performed if I have a tan?
Having a tan increases your risk of side effects such as blistering and discoloration. Due to the fact that on a tanned skin, the laser tends to aim at the surrounding skin rather than the hair, scarring of the skin may also occur.
What areas can be treated with laser?
Any area, except adjacent to the eye, where there is excess hair can be treated with the laser. The most common areas requested are the face, upper lip, neck, chest, periareolar (nipple), underarms, back, abdomen, bikini line, and legs.
How many laser hair removal treatments are needed?
As a rule, multiple treatment sessions are necessary to obtain optimal results. In large part this is due to the fact that laser hair removal is most effective for hair which is in the anagen phase. Anagen is the growth phase of hair. Since hair grows in cycles, not all of the hairs are in anagen at any given time. Additional sessions are necessary to catch all of the hairs when they are in anagen. While the number of treatments varies from person to person, on average, everyone requires at least three treatments for good results. This is typical because while all hair is temporarily disabled during each treatment, not all of the hair follicles are removed. Therefore, a series of treatments is necessary in order to realize results. Overall, most people do not require more than six treatments, though people with hormonal imbalances or people who normally wax or pluck a lot may require more sessions.
Does the hair grow back?
Laser hair removal is accomplished in a series generally done monthly. The average number of sessions to achieve over 80 percent permanent hair reduction in 80-90 percent of good candidates is approximately 4 to 7 sessions. In between these monthly sessions some of the hair will regrow as hairs cycle. Hairs that may have been dormant during your previous laser hair removal session may now be in the growth phase. This is where the need for multiple treatment sessions arises. Multiple sessions ensures that all the hairs are subjected to the treatment. These hairs may be shaved by the patient between sessions if desired.
Once my sessions are completed, will I require maintenance sessions?
Many patients find that maintenance sessions done once or twice a year are ideal for keeping hair at bay after completing the initial treatment protocol. A small number of patients who are good candidates for hair loss may only be temporary and complete regrowth may occur. This complete regrowth is generally seen in white or blond haired patients.
Why is there such a disparity in the cost of laser hair removal?
Established medical centers with excellent reputations do no discount their fees. Patients know their reputations and rely upon their experience and expertise. The same is true for laser hair removal. Consumers are advised, as with all forms of medical care, to seek the center of highest quality, rather than lower cost. Laser hair removal requires exacting science, individual attention, experience, and a trained, caring, professional staff.
What can I expect during my initial consultation?
Dr. Zdinak will ask about your medical history, assess your skin type, and explain the risks and benefits of laser hair removal as they pertain to your individual situation. If you have a tan from sun exposure or sunless tanning products, you must wait until the tan fades completely before you can undergo laser hair removal. Laser hair removal is effective only on short, visible hair. Two to three days before the procedure, you shave the area to be treated and allow it to grow to stubble. Avoid waxing or plucking the hair.
What can I expect during the laser hair removal procedure?
The length of a laser treatment may last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more, depending on the size of the area being treated. The laser treatment itself may cause some mild discomfort, like a rubber band snapping on the skin, but most patients tolerate the procedure well. The appearance of the treated area immediately following treatment will vary from patient to patient depending on the extent of the procedure and skin type. Side effects, if any, are minor. They include redness and swelling around the hair follicle, which are, in fact, desired clinical results and indicate that the follicle has responded to the treatment. Most people return to normal activity right away. We will be happy to tell you more about your treatment, possible side effects and what results you can expect during your consultation.
What are some pre-treatment instructions?
Laser treatment should be avoided when you have a suntan or sunburn.
Bleaching or plucking should be stopped for a couple of weeks before the treatment.
The hairs should be shaved 3 days prior to the treatment to a degree where only a shadow or stubble remains visible.
What are some post-treatment instructions?
It is common to experience redness or bumps after the treatment. A cold compress often helps in this scenario. Apart from this, general precautions to take after laser hair removal treatment include:
Minimal use of makeup and maximum use of moisturizer
Use sunblock of SPF 30 or more for a couple of weeks after the treatment.
If needed, the only other acceptable hair removal method during the treatment regimen is shaving.
Be aware that hair will continue to shed up to three weeks after the treatment. Help the hairs out by using a loofah or washcloth.
Are there any side effects?
In most cases there are no side effects associated with the procedure. However, pigmentary change of the skin treated can occur, including either dark or light areas. Pigmentary changes may persist for months, but are almost always temporary. This is very rare in patients with fair skin, who are untanned. Blisters and burns are rare, but occasionally occur, particularly in patients with dark skin.
Is laser hair removal covered by insurance?
Laser hair removal is considered to be cosmetic and is therefore, not covered by insurance. The patient is responsible for payment, though financing options are usually available.
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