Laser hair removal is a fairly new and innovative method of eliminating body hair through the use of finely-tuned medical lasers. Specifically, this hair removal procedure is accomplished by pulsating said medical lasers toward the base of targeted hair follicles and heating them to cause localized damage that prevents those follicles from entering further stages of growth.
This, in effect, causes the follicles to degrade and eventually fall out.
Laser hair removal is often completed over a series of appointments; wherein a specialist guides the purpose-made lasers over the targeted area. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to over an hour, depending on the density of the hair and color contrast presented between a patient’s skin tone and hair color.
While other methods of hair removal (such as waxing, shaving, and electrolysis) have been around for many decades (if not centuries), laser hair removal only hit the scene in the 1990s. This hair removal technique gained “permanent hair reduction” status from the US Food and Drug Administration, after which point this technique went on to nationwide popularity due to its efficient and nearly-painless methodology.
A full body of research both before, during, and after this certification process can back up claims that laser hair removal is safe.
In fact, this hair removal technique is often lauded for its safety and ease of use on any area of the body, from head to toe (and everywhere in between). With few drawbacks in its implementation and acquisition process, laser hair removal is certainly a viable option for those seeking comedic or medical body hair abatement.
If you’ve ever considered laser hair removal as an option for attaining your personal aesthetic or health goals, then you should certainly pursue this option further. This hair removal option is among the most popular today with good reason, providing interested patients the opportunity to make use of these innovative techniques in a format and on a schedule that fits their lifestyle.
1Laser hair removal lasts a very long time compared to most other options. Most adults undergo some degree of hair abatement on a semi-regular basis. For most folks, this involves shaving using a razor at home, with areas across the face, head, and armpits receiving the majority of attention. For others, hair removal is a seasonal occurrence, based upon seasonal attire choices (such as swimsuits).
While these methods get the job done, the results are semi-permanent, with hairs growing back in a matter of days.
Laser hair removal acts as an alternative to this effort-intensive cycle by providing a semi-permanent hair abatement technique for particularly problematic body hair regions. In many cases, hair removed in this manner will not regrow for many months following the final treatment in a set.
Thus, laser hair removal is not a permanent hair removal solution (despite its regulatory certification as such). Rather, this technique has been certified to provide a stable, long-term method for abating hair growth. As such, those who wish to use this method as a permanent hair removal solution will need to touch-up appointments on a semi-regular basis (1).
2Laser hair removal minimizes pain. Shaving can be a pain, between the resulting dermal skin irritation and the potential micro-cuts across your skin’s surface. Waxing is even worse, given the extreme physical force used to tear out individual hair follicles. While other hair abatement methods can result in some irritating pain, laser hair removal greatly minimizes your risk for painful after-effects.
Specifically, most laser hair removal techniques leave a patient with only minor skin irritation following the first several treatments. This pain tends to subside in just a few hours, especially after the application of a cold compress to the affected area (2).
Laser hair removal does not involve any sharp tools or hot waxes, either, so there are no risks for cuts and burns associated with the procedure.
3Laser hair removal is efficient. In general terms, laser hair removal is also hailed for its overall efficiency when it comes to eliminating hair in a compact time frame. In fact, most patients are able to enter and leave a specialist’s office in the same hour due to the speed at which their specialized lasers operate. Those who are, for example, laser treating their upper lip can expect the whole affair to take only a minute or so!
Also, most patients can expect to see results in just around three treatment sessions. Throughout the treatment regimen, individual hairs will begin to fall out as the individual follicles succumb to their damaged state. After a few more treatments (often separated by six or more weeks), patients can expect new hair growth to slow substantially (3).
Taken together, laser hair treatment can be packed into any schedule due to its overall efficiency.
4Laser hair removal can be used almost everywhere. Hair removal isn’t always just focused on the face and head, of course. Some folks prefer to clear away armpit hair, as well as hair in sensitive personal areas. Similarly, some folks prefer to seasonally trim back body hair along their exposed skin, such as in the case of a so-called “bikini trim.” Regardless of the reasoning, laser hair removal is safe on all relevant parts of the body.
While body hair color may vary from one part of an individual’s body, all hair colors can be targeted with modern laser hair removal techniques.
This should come as a relief to those suffering from hirsutism, an ailment associated with several disorders that lead to an excessive amount of body hair in unusual locations. Women, in particular, tend to take advantage of laser hair removal over larger swaths of their body in order to address clinically or aesthetically undesirable hair patterns (4).
5Laser hair removal is continuously improving. Though current laser hair removal techniques only date back a couple of decades, modern techniques have become even more refined than their predecessors. This is in part the result of ongoing research into this hair removal technique, with everything from safety to methodology coming under modern researchers’ purview.
Today’s laser hair removal techniques are designed to match a patient with a particular laser type based upon their expected degree of skin/hair contrast. By way of example, a laser hair removal specialist may select a ruby, 694.3 nm (wavelength) laser to target an individual with pale skin. Meanwhile, a patient with a darker skin complexion may be treated with an 1064 nm laser.
Other available laser hair removal options include: an alexandrite, 755 nm laser (used for all skin-types); a pulsed diode array, 810 nm laser (used for pale to moderate skin tones); and a 650 nm intense pulsed light source (which is not technically a “laser” by definition, but is often included as an option). Each option has been proven, through careful study, to provide the power capacity needed to accomplish the active component of laser hair removal (5).
Moreover, modern laser hair removal methodology takes into account the patient’s skin tone and uses it as a basis for evaluating how much heat will need to be concentrated on hairs across said skin to properly damage it.
Due to the presence of melanin and other similar skin colorant compounds, current laser hair removal experts will calculate how much light they expect to disperse when applied to the patient’s dermal layer and apply one of the laser options described above accordingly (6).
6Laser hair removal effective compared to alternatives. Current research indicates that updated laser hair removal techniques tend to outstrip their competition when it comes to providing a desirable degree of hair removal permanence. Anecdotal evidence already tells the tale when it comes to shaving, which is a very temporary solution that can lead to dermal irritation. Waxing also bears the risk for skin irritation, as well as adding in the potential for serious burns from hot wax.
At the very least, waxing has been shown to provide a degree of long-term permanence when it comes to body hair abatement. But when it comes down to comparisons, laser hair removal takes the prize because it can reach the same pinnacle of performance with a greatly decreased risk for injury.
In terms of scientific comparisons, laser hair removal has also been compared to electrolysis treatments (a hair removal method that incorporates electricity). In a 2000 study comparing the two, researchers found laser hair removal to be 60 times more time-efficient than electrolysis. Researchers also determined that tested patients found laser hair removal to be less painful and more reliable when it came to achieving their personal hair removal goals (7).
7Laser hair removal can be used therapeutically and cosmetically. Not unlike plastic surgery, laser hair removal has received a bad reputation in popular media for being a hair removal technique sought out by those in need of bodily cosmetic modifications. While laser hair removal is certainly ideal for this use due to its efficiency and reliability, this hair removal technique can also be implemented to help achieve therapeutic health goals.
To be specific, laser hair removal is often sought out by men and women suffering from hirsutism. This affliction (resulting from an endocrine imbalance) causes extremely unusual or excessive body hair patterning, to the point that it becomes unpleasant or unsanitary. This hair tends to be dark and course, causing a sufferer to endure some degree of social stigma because of their appearance (8).
While laser hair removal cannot treat the underlying causes of this affliction (which include serious ailments including polycystic ovarian syndrome and Cushing’s syndrome), this technique can be used to abate on of its most visible side effects. Though suffers may need to seek treatment more often than those using the technique for cosmetic reasons, the positive effects tend to be similar (9).
8Laser hair removal can be done at home. The vast majority of laser hair removal options available today take place in clinical situations, such as outpatient centers or specialized skin care clinics. However, those looking to take further advantage of the speed and effectiveness of this hair removal technique can also seek out so-called “consumer-grade” options.
More often than not, these take the form of a handheld device (connected to an electric-powered base) that produces the same type of lasers used in general-purpose laser hair removal treatments. These devices hold some distinct advantages, including the individual ability to maintain a certain degree of body hair within the convenience of one’s own home.
That being said, these at-home laser hair removal options do require an extra commitment to safe use. Some of this technique’s worst side effects can be intensified when the primary lasers are misapplied. Consequently, sticking to the manufacturer’s instructions for use is essential.
1Laser hair removal can cause minor skin irritation. Even when applied carefully and with precision in a clinical setting, laser hair removal does tend to result in some minor skin irritation for most patients. This irritation is not unlike a sunburn because the laser’s used in this technique direct a similar degree of focused heat and light into the upper-dermal layers.
Typically, this irritation is worse after the first several treatments. However, skin in the targeted area tends to adjust to this laser’s light and heat during the full course of a treatment regimen. For short-term relief, patients may apply a cold press or ice to the afflicted area. In some cases, specialists will also apply a localized dermal anesthetic to dull this pain during the procedure (10).
2Laser hair removal is not always safe. As noted, laser hair removal has become very popular among those seeking out both aesthetic and therapeutic solutions to body hair abatement.
However, this increase in popularity has led to a great deal of competition in this field. Pair this with a lack of national licensing oversight (in the US), and you have a recipe for the existence of less-than-trustworthy laser hair clinicians.
In many jurisdictions, anyone (medically-trained or otherwise) can perform laser hair removal treatments. However, trustworthy professionals in this field include nurses, physicians, and cosmetologists who hold appropriate credentials from an industry-based standards group, such as the National Laser Institute (11).
In any case, you should always research your state’s localized regulation statutes to ensure that you are working with a trusted professional.
There is no standard dosage of laser hair removal as cases vary from person to person. The amount of time or times it must be done will be determined by a variety of factors.
What is laser hair removal? At its procedural core, laser hair removal is a technique of abating unwanted or excessive body hair through the use of special-use lasers. These lasers provide a pinpointed degree of heat and light to the targeted hair, causing the base elements of the follicle to degrade and eventually fall apart, leading to the loss of the targeted hair in time.
This method also causes the targeted hair follicles to regrow much more slowly, leading to hairlessness in the targeted area that can last between months and years. Though there are several different types of lasers available for use in this procedure, most patients opt for an option that optimizes a specialist’s ability to target their hair in contrast to their skin tone.
How much does laser hair removal typically cost? Compared to other up-keep focused methods of hair abatement, laser hair removal is among the more expensive options. Current estimates put an average price point around $235 per session of treatment. A full treatment regimen may require anywhere from three to eight treatments, so the final bill for this type of hair removal can certainly grow quickly.
That being said, prices can be much higher than this average based upon regional demand for the procedure. Some specialists charge per treatment based upon the targeted area, with everything from upper lips to bikini lines to full body options available. These packaged deals can cost several thousand dollars, making it important to choose the best specialist to meet your needs before investing in laser hair removal.
Is laser hair removal more effective than other forms of hair removal? Current research indicates that laser hair removal is more effective than shaving, waxing, and electrolysis in several important categories. First off, laser hair removal is a semi-permanent solution to managing body hair, putting it above shaving. Along the same lines, laser hair removal only causes minor skin irritation, making it a far less painful option compared to waxing.
Even though electrolysis also promises a near-perfect hair removal solution, contemporary studies indicate that those that tried both methods found laser hair removal to be 60 times more efficient than electrolysis. These same patients (in a 2000 study) also found laser hair removal to be the least painful and most reliable option out of the two (12).
Is laser hair removal safe? When taking into account all of its side effects, laser hair removal can certainly be considered a safe body hair abatement option. Side effects from the procedure are minor at best and do not result in lasting physical harm (only some discomfort).
Also, while not all laser hair removal specialists are “licensed” or regulated in a centralized manner, many trustworthy practitioners exist in every state. Prospective patients looking to ensure their safety should seek out a certified hair removal professional in their area to learn more about residual risks associated with this technique.
How many laser treatments will I need? The precise volume of laser treatments needed varies from patient to patient, often based upon their skin tone, hair texture, and hair color. These three factors can cause the special-use lasers used in this technique to be more or less able to pinpoint the targeted hairs, allowing treatment regimens to last as few as three sessions. However, more resilient body hair or large coverage areas may require up to eight treatments in all.
Will laser hair removal work for my skin tone and hair color? When it first hit the market, laser hair removal was only reliably effective for some individuals with specific skin tone/hair color pairings. However, due to continual research into the technique’s mechanics, practitioners today can offer several different laser options (based on color and wavelength) that can isolate and undermine most any person’s body hair.
That being said, not all laser types provide an equal degree of efficiency for all patients. For instance, an individual with a dark skin complexion may find the most success with an “Nd: YAG” 1064 nm laser, while an individual with moderate or light complexion may be best suited for an 810 nm pulsed diode array laser (2)
Are there laser hair treatment professionals? Laser hair removal professionals and specialists do exist, and prospective patients should make every effort to seek them out when planning to undergo this hair abatement technique. While national regulations do not exist in this field of therapeutic and cosmological body modification, several well-regarded organizations do “license” their members to safely and effectively perform the desired procedure.
Is laser hair removal the same as electrolysis hair removal? No, these two types of hair removal use different methods for removing unwanted or excessive body hair from a willing patient. Laser hair removal, as its name suggests, uses a purpose-built laser system to pinpoint and weaken hair follicles through the use of heat and light. Electrolysis, on the other hand, primarily uses electricity to remove a follicle of hair entirely.
As a result, electrolysis is considered the most permanent hair removal option available. However, the precision procedure takes a very long time to complete, leading many to choose laser hair removal for its respectable effectiveness period and rapid per-session completion rate.
After examining the facts, it’s clear to see why laser hair removal has become such a popular hair abatement method for men and women in the United States. Through its innovative implementation of special-use lasers to target and weaken hair follicles, patients seeking therapeutic and cosmetic hair modification goals can get obtain what they need efficiently and with a minimum degree of pain.
Though some may be intimidated by its name at first, most folks will warm up to laser hair removal after they see and experience its clinically-proven results. No other method of hair removal – not shaving, waxing, or electrolysis – can compare to what laser hair removal can offer. Though it comes at a premium price, this technique’s premium results are well worth the price of admission.
Altogether, individuals of all skin colors and hair colors can rest assured that there is a well-regarded hair removal method available to them today. Should they need it, laser hair removal is certainly among their best choices when it comes to keeping their body hair precisely as they imagine it.