Laser hair removal is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures for people of all ages and genders. While no one likes dealing with unwanted body hair, shaving, waxing, and tweezing have their own set of drawbacks. Whether you’re just looking for a low-maintenance way to keep your skin smooth or you’re sick of dealing with the pain and inconvenience that comes with plucking out your body hair, laser hair removal might seem like the perfect solution. After all, this FDA-approved treatment option has been around since the mid-1990s, and it promises to give you permanent results with relatively few side effects.
Laser hair removal is a non-invasive way of removing unwanted hair from the body. The laser emits a light pulse, which is absorbed by the pigment in the hair follicle. This destroys the hair and prevents it from growing back.
Types of Laser Hair Removal
Laser and other light-based treatments are used on all parts of the body and can treat large areas effectively with minimal discomfort and with no downtime.
Laser Hair Removal vs. IPL Laser hair removal can be performed by a variety of different laser types, but all work by targeting the dark pigment in the hair (melanin) with a specific wavelength of light energy that destroys the follicle without harming surrounding skin. Lasers can also destroy blood vessels and melanin cells in freckles or age spots and can be used to improve skin tone, and texture and reduce pore size, but laser hair removal is one of their most common uses in dermatology clinics.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) systems use filters to emit various wavelengths of light energy that target different tissues. They can be used for laser hair removal but are also used for treating redness associated with rosacea or “broken capillaries,” as well as treating brown spots and sun damage on the face
Side Effects of Laser Hair Removal
However, it’s important to read up on those side effects before you go in for treatment. While laser hair removal is generally safe and effective when administered by a licensed professional, some risks are still involved.
Temporary discomfort, redness and swelling are possible after laser hair removal. Any signs and symptoms typically disappear within several hours.
Laser hair removal might darken or lighten the affected skin, especially if you have a dark complexion or are being treated for darker hair. The affected skin might return to its normal color over time or remain lighter or darker. In rare cases, laser hair removal can cause blisters, crusting of the skin, scarring, infection or other complications.
If you experience any of these effects after laser hair removal, you can consult your doctor for help.
Recovery after Laser Hair Removal
The recovery after laser hair removal treatment is minimal, with most patients able to resume their normal activities immediately.
During your consultation, the laser technician will explain how you can prepare for your laser hair removal treatment session. This preparation typically includes avoiding sun exposure for several weeks prior to your appointment. You should also avoid bleaching or waxing areas that are being treated.
At the time of your treatment, the technician will apply a topical anesthetic or cooling gel to the area that is being treated. You may feel a warm or tingling sensation as the laser is applied to the skin. The discomfort is usually minimal and well-tolerated by most patients, but some areas may be more sensitive than others. For example, underarms are more sensitive than thighs because they have less fat tissue beneath the skin and fewer nerve endings in the area.
After your treatment, the technician will apply ice packs to the area that was treated and a soothing cream or lotion to reduce any redness or swelling. If necessary, you may take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). If needed, you can apply a cold compress on your own at home for additional comfort.