Do you wish there was a better way to remove unwanted hair than shaving, plucking, tweezing or waxing? If so, you need to learn more about laser hair removal and how it safely and effectively removes unwanted hair quickly and painlessly. Today, our dermatology experts at Refresh Evolution in Pitt Meadows, BC answer some of the most frequently asked questions about this revolutionary treatment, including what to expect during treatment.
What Happens During a Hair Removal Session?
During your treatment, Dr. Ronald Jurzyk will sanitize the treatment area with a sterilizing solution. If your skin is sensitive to heat and you’re worried about discomfort during treatment, a numbing gel will be applied to the treatment area. Then, you will be given eye protection to wear that was designed specifically to protect your eyes from laser light. Once the targeted area is numb, the actual treatment session will begin.
The light emitted by the laser will be calibrated to your unique needs based on the tone of your skin. This ensures that the device will only target your active hair follicles, leaving the surrounding skin untouched. Once the laser is calibrated to the tones of your skin and hair, it will be focused on and moved throughout the targeted area.
How Does it Work?
Laser hair removal treatment works by emitting concentrated light waves that target your hair follicles. These concentrated lightwaves are made up of energy that emits heat. The emitted heat is absorbed by the pigment in your hair’s melanin, and the hair follicle is instantly vaporized.
How Many Treatment Sessions Will I Need Before I See My Ideal Results?
It can take between three and eight treatment sessions spaced three to eight weeks apart to see the flawlessly smooth, hair-free skin you’re looking for. It’s important to schedule each session several weeks apart for a couple of reasons. First, the laser only targets active hair follicles. Unfortunately, different hair follicles in any given region of your body are in different stages in the hair growth cycle. Second, your skin needs time to “recover” from treatment.
What Are the Stages of Hair Growth?
The four stages of hair growth are known as the anagen (growing) phase, catagen (transitional) phase, telogen (resting) phase and exogen (shedding) phase. Lasers can only target hair at the root and beneath the skin. Since such hair only exists when the hair follicle is in its anagen phase, treatment will not affect hair follicles in the catagen, telogen or exogen phases of the hair growth cycle.
There’s no telling when a particular hair follicle will enter the anagen phase. However, studies have revealed that the most effective, efficient way to schedule sessions is four weeks apart. When sessions are scheduled four weeks apart, you are more likely to need only three or four treatments. If you schedule appointments sooner or longer than four weeks, you are more likely to need six or seven sessions.
What Results Can I Realistically Expect?
After your first treatment session, you can expect a 10 to 25% reduction in hair. During your initial consultation, we will closely examine the area you are targeting for hair reduction to give you a better idea of what results you can expect from your first treatment session and advise you regarding how many sessions you should expect to need based on the size of the area and the percentage of active hair follicles in the targeted area.
How Long Will My Session Take?
How long your laser treatment session will take depends primarily on the surface area of the targeted region. If you’re trying to remove unwanted hair from your back, your session may take an hour or more. Contrastingly, if you are only tried to eliminate unwanted hair from your upper lip, your session may only take a couple of minutes.
How Long Will the Results of My Treatment Session Last?
When laser hair reduction technology was in its early stages, people needed 10 or more treatment sessions and maintenance sessions were required every four months. Today, you may need the rare touch-up, but you can expect the final cumulative results of your treatment to be permanent. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Unwanted hair growth often occurs as the result of extreme hormonal changes.
You may need a follow-up treatment within five years of your initial treatments if you become pregnant. If you do not plan on becoming pregnant within the next five years, you don’t need to plan on any follow-up sessions once your ideal results have been achieved. Also, keep in mind that laser hair reduction treatments are most effective when the targeted hairs are thick. You may need maintenance treatments for thin hair, like upper lip hair.
Which Areas Can Be Treated?
Due to the incredible safety of lasers, you can target virtually any part of your body for unwanted hair reduction. Men usually target the back, shoulders, neck and chest for hair reduction. Women most frequently target the arms, bikini area, legs, upper lip, chin and upper back for hair reduction. If there are several regions of your body that you want to remove hair from, we will discuss during your initial consultation whether we should target several areas per session.
How Should I Prepare for Treatment?
The most important thing you should do to prepare for your treatment is to come in for an initial consultation. During this initial consultation, we will review your medical history, lifestyle, current health and medications that you are currently taking or have taken recently. You may need to call your primary care physician and ask him if it is safe for you to stop taking certain medications for a few days so you can receive treatment safely.
Universal guidelines for the preparation of laser hair removal treatments include not waxing or plucking the hair in the targeted area for four weeks prior to the scheduled session and keeping the skin free from irritation. This means that you should not receive any cosmetic treatments, such as chemical peels, that can cause irritation in the days or weeks leading up to your scheduled session.
What Else Should I Avoid Before My Treatment Session?
You should do your very best to avoid sunburn before your treatment session. To achieve this, we strongly recommend that you wear at least an SPF 45 sunscreen that protects your skin from UV-C rays. If the skin in the targeted area is sunburned on the day of your treatment, your session must be postponed.
What Medications Are Safe to Take Before Treatment?
Although you should avoid any medications that are designed, or have the potential, to thin the blood, such as NSAIDs and MAOIs, you can safely take any over-the-counter analgesic that is not an NSAID. For example, you can take Tylenol or the generic equivalent if you feel any pain or discomfort before your treatment.
If you’re on an MAOI, and you’re worried about the effects of not taking an anti-depressant for a brief period, ask your psychiatrist for an alternative anti-depressant that does not include the side effect of potential blood thinning. It is also safe, and necessary, to take any antibiotics to stop bacterial infections. Furthermore, you should take preventative medication leading up to your scheduled session if you have a history of cold sores.
Do I Need to Shave Before Treatment?
Yes. It is very important that you shave the night before you come in for your treatment session. The hair reduction laser can target the active hair follicles much more effectively when the hair is short but attached to the root. We recommend that you avoid waxing and plucking to mitigate the risk of irritation during treatment, but not removing your hair from the root provides the added benefit of making the laser treatment session more effective.
How Should I Care for My Skin After Treatment?
After your treatment session, you should keep the treated area clean. When you clean the treated area, make sure you use a gentle cleanser that is free from scents that may irritate your treated skin. We recommend using tepid water as your skin may be more sensitive to both hot and cold water than it usually is. When you moisturize your skin after treatment, we recommend using a gentle hypoallergenic moisturizer, like Cetaphil, Vaseline or Aquaphor.
Can I Get a Chemical Peel After My Laser Hair Reduction Treatment?
Unfortunately, it is not advisable to get a chemical peel within five days of a laser hair reduction session. The gentlest chemical peels, known as superficial or light peels, contain mild acids, such as glycolic acid or salicylic acid. Even these acids should be avoided in the five days following your laser hair reduction session. We cannot overstate the importance of protecting your skin from potential irritation in the first five days after your session.
How Safe Is Laser Treatment for the Removal of Unwanted Hair?
Laser hair removal is incredibly safe. The safe use of laser energy has been researched thoroughly since the 1960s and it has been commonly used since the 1990s. In fact, Health Canada first approved laser hair removal in 2001. After 25 years and countless treatment sessions, no evidence has come to light that this treatment is unsafe when administered by a certified dermatologist.
Is This Treatment Safe for Individuals With Dark Skin and Hair?
Absolutely! In the past, laser hair reduction treatments were only recommended for individuals with fair skin and dark hair because lasers weren’t as advanced as they are today. The science hasn’t changed. The laser still targets the pigment of the active hair follicle, ignoring the pigment of the surrounding skin. The problem was that the lasers weren’t advanced enough to distinguish accurately between dark hair and dark skin.
Please note, although hair reduction lasers have advanced to the point that they can safely and effectively remove unwanted hair from individuals with dark skin and dark hair, there is still a lot of room for improvement. Lasers remove unwanted hair most efficiently when an individual has fair skin and dark hair. If you have pale skin and fair hair, such as blonde, grey or red hair, you may need seven or eight treatments.
Learn More About Quickly and Comfortably Removing Unwanted Hair Today
Both plucking and tweezing are incredibly inefficient, particularly when your unwanted hair isn’t on your face. Waxing is painful for everyone, expensive and takes precious time away from family to attend sessions. Sensitive skin can cause acne outbreaks, razor burn and other issues. If you’re looking for a better hair removal alternative, laser hair removal may benefit you.
During a treatment session, the targeted area will be cleaned, and a numbing gel will be administered if you are worried about your skin feeling too warm. Then, you will be given special eye protection, and the laser will be calibrated based on your unique needs. To discover if a laser treatment is the appropriate method for you to remove unwanted hair, contact our experts today at Refresh Evolution in Pitt Meadows, BC to schedule an appointment.