No one really likes to shave. It is tedious and can be uncomfortable and you just have to keep doing it over and over again. This is why laser hair removal has become so popular. Most people who have laser hair removal are thrilled with no longer having to go through the hassle of shaving ever again.
How It Works
Laser hair removal works by targeting the pigment in the hair shaft and actually uses the hair itself as a heating element. When the laser light energy is absorbed by the pigment in the hair, the light energy is converted to heat energy similar to the way that laser tattoo removal works. The temperature of the hair instantaneously rises and burns the follicle that holds the hair shaft. If the burn gets deep enough to burn the base of the follicle, another hair won’t grow back.
Pigment is Necessary
Since the light energy is only absorbed by pigment, there has to be color in the hair for the laser to be effective. Therefore, laser hair removal is not typically effective for blonde, white or grey hair. In most cases, the darker the hair is, the better the laser works. This makes intuitive sense because darker hair is going to absorb more laser energy so the hair will get hotter. In addition, thicker hairs tend to react to laser hair removal better than thinner hairs; again because thicker hairs will generally absorb more of the laser light than thinner hairs.
No Waxing or Plucking
Since the laser is only effective if the hair shaft absorbs the laser light, there has to be a hair in the follicle for it to work. Therefore, if the hair has been removed by waxing, plucking or chemical depilatories, there is no hair to treat and the laser session will be ineffective. It is best to wait at least six weeks after the last session of waxing, plucking, etc. to have a laser hair removal treatment. While preparing for a laser hair removal session, shaving the hair is best, as it does not remove the hair. Shaving does not cause the hair to grow thicker or darker.
The greater the differential in skin color, the more effective laser hair removal tends to be. That is, the lighter the skin color is and the darker that the hair is, the better. Since the laser light is absorb by pigment, skin pigment can also absorb it which can result in a burn or change in skin color that can be permanent. Patients with darker skin require different settings on the laser to reduce the risk of skin problems making the procedure less effective on patients with darker skin. This also means that it is best to keep the areas being treated as light as possible so avoid tanning while the treatments are being done.
Number of Treatments
Laser hair removal treatments are generally done about six to eight weeks apart, which is enough time for the hairs to change their growth cycle. Ideal patients for laser hair removal will often see a significant reduction in hair with only three treatments sessions while others may require several more depending on how they respond. Unfortunately, as is true with many medical procedures, there are no guarantees.