Laser hair removal is one of the most common cosmetic procedures in Canada today. Here, we address the most commonly asked questions.
Am I a good candidate for laser hair removal?
The best candidates have lighter skin and dark, coarse hair. White, gray, blonde or red hair does not respond as well to treatment. There are many factors that can exclude you from being a candidate such as certain medical conditions, usage of Accutane in the last 6 months, or if you are pregnant or nursing. In order to determine if you are a good candidate, you should consult with a certified laser technician.
How does laser hair removal work?
Lasers designed for permanent hair reduction emit wavelengths of light that are absorbed by the pigment in the hair, thus destroying the hair follicle and preventing any new hair growth. Hair growth occurs in a cycle in three main phases: anagen, catagen and telogen. Laser only works when hair is in the anagen phase, the active phase cycle of growth. Thus, patients need multiple treatments in order to disable each batch of hair as it enters this phase.
How many treatments will I need?
The number of sessions required depends on the type of your hair and the area of your body. Optimal results are typically seen after 6-8 treatments done approximately 6-8 weeks apart.
What if I have excessive hair growth?
Before starting laser treatments, patients with excessive hair growth on uncommon areas should explore possible underlying medical reasons for it. Hair removal methods can only impact hair that’s currently growing. They cannot prevent the body from developing new hair after treatments are completed.
Does it hurt?
Most people feel a mild pinch or the sensation of the snapping of an elastic band against their skin. Typically the comfort level is about the same as waxing.
Are there side effects?
After a treatment some people may experience redness, itching, swelling around the hair follicle, or skin sensitivity like a mild sunburn. This can last anywhere from an hour to three days. Other side effects such as blistering, crusting, or temporary pigment change are rare.
How do I prepare for a laser treatment?
The area needs to be shaved and you must avoid plucking or waxing the area for at least 6 weeks to ensure a hair is growing in that follicle. If the hair is not there, it cannot be targeted by the laser. Also avoid the sun or tanning beds and creams such as Retinol/Retin A for at least 2 weeks prior to and after a treatment to minimize the risk of a side effect.
Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent?
Generally, a patient can tell how much reduction was achieved from a course of treatments after waiting 6-12 months from their last treatment. Any hair that grows in after the 12-month period is new hair that the body can develop due to numerous factors such as age, diet, hormonal changes, and certain medical conditions. Patients who experience new growth later in life can get touch-up treatments.