The most common areas where women seek laser hair removal are the lip and chin, underarms and bikini area. Laser hair removal is also ideal for large areas such as the legs. The first thing for most women to do before embarking on a removal program is to determine that the cause of the hair growth is not hormonal. Women experiencing hair growth in areas such as the face, breasts or chest, or experiencing symptoms that might indicate a hormonal imbalance such as irregular menstrual cycles or severe acne, should consult their physician to determine if there is a hormonal imbalance prior to embarking on a course of laser hair removal. A hormonal source for hair growth can often be easily controlled with a pill, making later hair removal more effective and stopping the excess growth for the future.
Laser hair removal has been a revolution in managing excess hair growth, and is effective at removing hair from virtually any area of the body including: the underarms, bikini, lip and chin, jawline, legs, back, and stomach. I do not use hair-removal lasers around the eye or to treat mono-brow, as they penetrate deeply and should be kept away from the eyes. Hair-removal lasers exploit the difference in color between the hair shaft and the surrounding skin, and thus the lasers ‘see’ the dark pigment of the hair shaft and heat it, causing the hair to enter a prolonged resting phase. Therefore, it’s best not to be tan when receiving laser hair removal treatments, so the laser can ‘see’ the hair without ‘seeing’ the skin. We want the laser to consider the hair, and not the skin. as the enemy. Because hair removal lasers target the pigment in hair shafts, white or blond hair does not respond to laser treatment. Lasers are absolutely ideal for treating large areas such as the legs, back, underarms and bikini area. Shaving bumps that can occur after shaving or waxing respond extremely well to laser treatment. These bumps often resolve before most of the hair in a given area is even gone.
Normally, a series of laser treatments is required for significant hair reduction in a given area. Generally, depending upon the area, treatments are ideally administered at 6-8 week intervals, and often a series of 3-6 treatments is required to reduce the hair in a given area. Then longer and longer intervals are required to keep all of the hair away. These intervals are often measured in years. After a single treatment there will be a significant reduction in hair diameter and density that persists for years, but complete removal always requires a series of treatments.
There are 3 main types of hair removal lasers, and I will often use all 3 in a single person over time, depending upon how tan they are, the diameter of the hair and other factors. Patients with light skin or hair often respond best to the alexandrite or diode laser, since these lasers are strongly absorbed by melanin pigment. There is a special type of laser that works best on skin of color, the Nd:YAG laser. This laser is best at ignoring the pigmentation in skin, while still targeting the hair shaft, and thus is the safest laser to use on more darkly pigmented skin types.
The Hair Removal Journal is another informational resource for laser hair removal treatment options, pricing and provides a list of pre-qualified providers nationwide. To answer your specific questions or schedule a consultation, call Dr. Bernstein today at 610-645-5551.
GentleLase Pro, GenlteLaser , GentleYag, & GentleMax Pro Lasers - These are the most popular lasers for hair removal world-wide. Dr. Bernstein purchased the first GentleMax Pro laser in the country, and is Head of the Advisory Board for the Candela Corporation, who makes this innovative laser. In addition, he first demonstrated the GentleLase Pro and GentleMax Pro lasers on TV, showing the country this new technology.
1. HOW DOES LASER HAIR REMOVAL TREATMENT WORK?
The procedure uses beams of light to penetrate the skin and target the pigment in the hair shaft and induce a mild inflammatory response to the hair follicle that signals the hair to rest for a very long period of time.
2. WHO IS A CANDIDATE FOR LASER HAIR REMOVAL? WHO IS NOT AND WHY?
Although initially laser hair removal worked best for people with light skin and dark hair, different lasers can now be used to perform the procedure on people with skin of color to obtain outstanding results. Unfortunately, treatment is next to impossible for people with blonde or white hair because the laser targets the pigment in the hair shaft. If there isn’t any pigment, or very little, there’s nothing for the laser to‘see’.
3. WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF LASER HAIR REMOVAL COMPARED TO OTHER METHODS?
Laser hair removal is way quicker than any other method and requires WAY less treatments than non-permanent methods of hair removal. I can’t see any other practical way to permanently remove hair from large areas like the legs and back, and no more convenient way to control hair in the bikini and underarm areas. On the face, the need for very few treatments after an initial 4-5 treatments means that there won’t be bumps or redness for a long time, since treatments can be spaced 6-12 or more months apart following an initial set of treatments. Laser hair removal does not work on white or blond hair, so other methods are necessary for this type of hair.
4. HOW MANY LASER HAIR REMOVAL TREATMENTS DOES IT TAKE?
Typically, patients require four to six treatments at six to eight week intervals to remove all the hair. For larger areas, like the legs or back, treatments are done at slightly longer intervals and less frequently to completely eliminate hair.
5. IS LASER HAIR REMOVAL PERMANENT?
Laser hair removal lasts a very, very long time in most people. After only a couple of treatments (say 1 leg and not the other) there will be less and thinner hair on the treated side for a long time. To have NO hair, an initial series of 4-6 treatments is needed at 6-8 week intervals, followed by maintenance treatments at 6 months to a year or more depending upon the person or area. There is a lot of individual variation and variation by area of the body.
6.DOES LASER HAIR REMOVAL HURT?
The first few treatments (when the hair is thickest and darkest) can be more uncomfortable than later treatments. I describe it as annoying for most people, although there is considerable variation between people and areas regarding the discomfort. Some people feel that it hurts, and men tend to think it hurts more on the back. I hear from many of my women patients that men are babies…I think we have more ‘nerve endings’, since, of course, we’re tougher.
7. WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS?
Side-effects of laser hair removal are similar to those from any laser treatment. There can be redness (usually pink) of the skin immediately following treatment, and rarely people can get bumps similar to shaving bumps due to irritation of the hair follicle-something we are trying to accomplish, and this can even rarely resemble acne temporarily. Temporary increased or decreased pigmentation can result after treatment rarely, and is more common in more darkly pigmented patients, because the laser can ‘see’ the skin in these patients as well as ‘seeing’ the hair-the hair is an intended target the skin is not. Blisters and scarring are very rare following laser hair removal when using the appropriate laser for a given patient.
8. WHAT AREAS OF THE BODY CAN BE TREATED?
Laser hair removal can be performed almost anywhere on the body, but many women undergo the procedure to remove hair on their underarms, face, bikini area and legs; while most men opt for the back, face and neck, where irritating bumps from shaving can form. Shaving bumps respond extremely well to laser hair removal, and the bumps usually go away even before all the hair is gone.
9. HOW WILL I LOOK AND CARE FOR THE TREATED AREA?
Most people just look a little pink following laser hair removal treatments. Bumps can last a day or 2 in the area of the hair follicles.
Generally there is no specific after care for areas treated with lasers for hair removal. Very rarely a topical steroid cream can treat the hive reaction/inflammation that follows laser treatment-although it is this inflammation that does the work of removing the hair. Also, if one get an acne-type reaction from irritation of the follicles, standard acne treatments can help, although they are rarely needed.
10. ARE MEN GOOD CANDIDATES FOR LASER HAIR REMOVAL?
Aside from the fact that men can be babies according to women, men with dark hair are excellent candidates for laser hair removal. The more common areas for men are: the neck to treat razor bumps, and the back and upper arms.