Whether you shave, wax, tweeze, or use depilatory creams, removing unwanted body hair can be a painful, messy process. Recent research reveals that more than 99 percent of American women voluntarily remove hair from their legs, underarms, eyebrows, upper lips, and/or bikini lines. More than 85 percent do so on a regular basis—sometimes daily!
All this hair removal adds up to a lot of time and money: over the course of a lifetime, American women who shave will spend an average of more than ten thousand dollars and nearly two entire months of their lives removing hair. A woman who waxes once or twice a month can spend more than twenty-three thousand dollars over the course of her lifetime! If you’re tired of spending precious time and money on temporary hair removal methods, you have better options.
What Is Laser Hair Removal?
A laser (actually an acronym that stands for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”) is a device that emits light of a specific wavelength. Laser hair removal works by targeting the melanin found in the hair (the substance in hair that makes it dark). The laser emits a specific wavelength of light that is, ideally, absorbed by the hair and reflected by the surrounding skin. This causes the follicles at the base of each hair, surrounding the roots, to heat up and become irritated. With enough irritation, the follicles will die (and stop producing hair), resulting in a permanent reduction in the growth of hair.
Multiple treatments are needed to kill all hair follicles because laser treatment only kills active follicles and at any one time; at any given time, some of the follicles are going through a dormant phase of hair production. For the most thorough, complete hair removal, dermatologists suggest seven treatments spaced anywhere from three to eight weeks apart; the number of treatments may vary from patient to patient.
Are There Risks to the Procedure?
The lasers used in hair removal must be carefully calibrated to irritate the hair follicles but not the surrounding skin. Even still, some itching, redness, or other irritation may occur. To minimize this risk, be sure you go to a trained practitioner who uses a laser approved by the FDA.
Since the lasers target the melanin in hair, the typical treatment works best on darker hair; different kinds of specialized lasers can be appropriate for use on lighter hair colors. Hair follicles are extremely resilient; because of this, some patients may experience regrowth, even with full treatment, but should still see a permanent reduction in the thickness and quantity of hair.
How to Prepare for Your Procedure
To prepare for laser hair removal treatments, you should limit plucking, waxing, and electrolysis for six weeks before each session, since these methods remove hair at the roots (leaving the laser with nothing to target). You should also avoid sun and other UV exposure for six weeks before and after treatment. Sun exposure reduces the effectiveness of the procedure and increases the chance of irritation and other complications.
If you’re ready to explore laser hair removal technology, contact Urban Effects MedSpa in Urbandale, Iowa! We offer a number of high-tech, cutting-edge laser options for clients in the Des Moines area, including Cutera®, which is designed to effectively and gently remove hair from all skin types. Other hair removal options, like BroadBand Light (BBL™) treatments, may also be appropriate. Reach out to schedule a personalized consultation to discuss the best options for your unique beauty and hair removal needs.