You have a lot of options when it comes to getting rid of unwanted hair on your face or body. Unfortunately, the one thing that shaving, waxing, plucking, and depilatory creams all have in common is that their results don’t last very long. If you’re tired of going through the same routine day in and day out and are interested in a more permanent solution, call MacMed Spa in Milford, MA to talk to one of our medical professionals about laser hair removal.
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
The treatment works by using a focused beam of light (laser) which targets the pigments at the root of your hair follicles. As the follicles absorb the light, the light energy is converted to heat energy, and the heat damages the follicles that produce hairs. The damage causes the existing hair to fall out and greatly delays future hair growth, often resulting in the permanent reduction of hair in the target area.
Most patients require more than one session of laser hair removal if their goals include permanently reducing or removing unwanted body hair. However, the results of each treatment can be easily seen as the hairs in the treated area grow back slower and finer than they did before.
What Are the Benefits of Laser Hair Removal?
Removing unwanted body hair isn’t a particularly difficult task in-and-of-itself, leading many prospective patients to wonder why laser hair removal would benefit them more. Below are a few common benefits of laser treatments that most patients will experience.
Lasers Target Your Hair, Not Your Skin
One of the biggest advantages to the treatment is that lasers are capable of targeting dark, coarse hair while leaving the surrounding skin untouched. Shaving and waxing can affect the skin around the treated area, resulting in redness and irritation (razor burn, anyone?), and depilatory creams put harsh chemicals in contact with your skin.
A laser is just light. In the past, the best candidates for laser removal were those who had fair skin and dark hair. The contrast was important in older laser models so that the light could effectively target the pigments in your hair and not those in your skin. Now, advances in technology have led to the development of multiple types of lasers that work effectively on patients with darker complexions.
Don’t Need Significant Hair Growth
Hair removal treatments of the past, including waxing and shaving, need some hair to appear above the surface of your skin. Waxing actually works best when the hair in your treatment area is one quarter to one-half inch long. With laser surgery, it’s the opposite.
Lasers work best when they target the root of your hair follicle. If you have hair growth above the surface of your skin, the pigment in these hairs will absorb some of the laser’s light, therefore transferring some heat energy into the tip of the hair instead of the root. To get the best results possible, patients are often asked to shave the area before undergoing treatment.
Fewer Opportunities for Ingrown Hairs
Ingrown hairs occur when the tip of the hair curls back underneath the skin or grows sideways into the skin of the hair follicle. Sometimes they result in small pink bumps beneath the skin that are difficult to notice on their own. However, several ingrown hairs in the same area can cause redness and leave you with a speckled appearance.
While they aren’t serious, they’re a notorious side effect of shaving, along with nicks, cuts, and dry skin. The reason they’re so common with shaving (as opposed to laser) is that when the blade cuts the hair on your face, it leaves a part of it below the skin near the root. Most of the time, these hairs grow back out of the follicle the next day. If the follicle gets clogged or if you touch a recently shaved area too much, the likelihood of experiencing ingrown hairs increases.
Results Can Become Permanent
A single laser treatment will rid the target area of hair and prolong its regeneration above and beyond what shaving, waxing, or depilatory creams are capable of achieving. But, if you only get one treatment, most of the hair in the area will almost assuredly grow back eventually.
To permanently rid an area of unwanted hair will usually take between 8 and 12 sessions. However, depending on how many hairs are in the treatment area, a few errant hairs may reappear after a lengthy period. These hairs, if they show up, can typically be treated via electrolysis.
Who Should Consider Treatment?
Anyone who has unwanted body or facial hair that makes them feel self-conscious or limits your ability to wear certain clothing would make an excellent candidate for treatment. That being said, feeling self-conscious about your appearance is not a necessary prerequisite for treatment. Anyone who is tired of removing hair from their face or body and is looking for a more long-term solution also makes an excellent candidate.
How to Get Started
The first step in ridding yourself of unwanted hair is to make an appointment to speak with one of our providers. Our experienced providers will be able to assess your candidacy for treatment and provide you with an estimate regarding the number of sessions you may need to achieve your desired results. Make sure to discuss any medications you’re taking at your consultation as certain prescriptions can cause light sensitivity.
Laser treatment is safe and effective for the overwhelming majority of patients. Still, if you have any redness, blemishes, or skin conditions in the targeted area, make sure your provider is aware of them at your appointment. Odds are you’ll still be a candidate for treatment even if you have a skin condition, though the laser can affect certain ones.
Once you’ve had your appointment with one of our providers and have been approved as a candidate for treatment, there are a few things you’ll be asked to do (or avoid doing) up to six weeks before your appointment.
You’ll want to steer clear of prolonged sun exposure for at least six weeks before your appointment and avoid any and all forms of tanning (even spray tans).
Don’t Remove Hair Yourself
The laser targets the root of the hair to destroy the follicle. If there is no root, nothing will be targeted and the follicle will remain healthy. Do not pluck, tweeze, or wax any of your hair for six weeks prior to your appointment.
You will also want to avoid bleaching your hair. Again, this has to do with the pigments in the hair. When you bleach your hair, you lighten it by removing the pigments, and lasers work best on darker hair.
The Day Before Treatment
Your provider will probably direct you to shave the day before your treatment session because shaving encourages the hair follicle to enter its active growing stage. This is the ideal stage during which laser hair removal is most effective.
The Day of Treatment
The treatment area should be clean, so be sure to take a shower or wash your face no more than a few hours before treatment to remove dirt, oil, and other debris from your skin and avoid using skincare products, even gentle lotion, afterward.
What Happens During Treatment?
When you sit down to undergo treatment, protective eye shields will be placed over your eyes to protect them from the laser’s light. These are especially important for those who elect to undergo hair removal of the face, though they’re also used for patients looking to have body hair removed. To protect your skin and increase your comfort, a special cooling device or gel is used. The device or gel will also make treatment more effective by helping the laser light penetrate your skin.
Once you’ve been prepared, the laser will be systematically directed spot-by-spot to the treatment areas you discussed at your appointment. The laser will instantly disable the actively growing hair follicles during each treatment. Dormant hair follicles are not affected and will require additional treatments during the growth phase of these follicles to target them.
Once your initial treatment is complete, you will schedule a follow-up or maintenance appointment with your provider. These are usually spaced anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks apart. Make sure you attend any and all scheduled follow-ups.
Continue to Avoid Sunlight
Immediately after treatment, and for the following several days, you will want to minimize the treated area’s exposure to direct sunlight. When you do go out in the sun, make sure to use quality sunblock with an SPF rating of 30 or greater.
Gently exfoliate the treated area 2 to 3 times per week to minimize your risk of developing ingrown hairs. While the risk is minimal with laser treatments, it’s important to exfoliate the area to keep dead skin cells from clogging your pores and (now empty) hair follicles.
It’s also beneficial to take lukewarm showers for the first week after treatment and to avoid using perfume, cologne, or deodorant for the first 48 hours. If you have any additional questions or concerns about how best to care for the treated area, feel free to ask your provider. They will provide you with thorough instructions regarding how to move forward.
Why Choose Us?
The employees at our spa are dedicated to ensuring your satisfaction and comfort during your visit. We use a combination of clinical research results and the latest in cosmetic technology to provide you with proven, effective results. No matter which service you visit us for, we make it our priority to make sure that you leave feeling refreshed, happy, and satisfied with your treatment.
Our offerings cover a wide variety of cosmetic treatments so that no matter what condition our clients are currently in, we have treatments available that can help them not only reach their aesthetic goals, but feel happier and more confident about their appearance.
Dr. Edgar Ballenas
Dr. Ballenas graduated from New York Medical College and completed his residency at Beth Israel Medical Center/Mount Sinai in New York City. He achieved his board certification in Emergency Medicine in 1994 and continues to practice medicine at Jordan’s Hospital in Plymouth, MA. He has been certified in medical aesthetics since 2004 and is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Physicians.
Is Laser Hair Removal Right for You?
Laser treatment is much more effective than shaving, waxing, or depilatory creams when it comes to the removal of unwanted hair on your face or body. It keeps the hair gone for longer and can eventually result in the permanent reduction of hair in the treatment area. If you would like to know more about how laser hair removal can help you achieve the results you want, call MacMed Spa in Milford, MA today.