6 Facts to Know Before You Go
Shaving, tweezing, threading, waxing … if you want to get rid of unwanted hair, you have options! An increasingly popular – and more permanent – treatment, called laser hair removal, can help give you the look you desire (at a price). Here are six things you should know about this cosmetic procedure.
By Mary Beth Wallace
You’ll need to do a little prep work.
Of course, you’ll want to book an initial consultation to ensure that laser hair removal is the right treatment for you; at this appointment, you and your provider will likely discuss your medical history, your expectations going into the treatment, and cost (typically an out-of-pocket expense). To prepare for an upcoming procedure, your provider will advise you to avoid sun exposure and other hair-removal methods, including plucking, waxing, and electrolysis. You may also be asked to shave the area being treated 24 hours prior to the procedure.
You should plan on getting multiple treatments.
Don’t expect to see immediate results the next day. Laser hair removal is most effective with two to six treatments, and it might take several sessions before you see the results you want. Patience really is key – you’ll have to wait several weeks between treatments, from four to eight weeks for areas where hair grows quickly (like your upper lip) and 12 to 16 weeks for areas with slower hair growth (like your back).
You might experience mild discomfort during the procedure.
During the procedure, your provider will use a handheld laser instrument to send light, which converts to heat, through your skin to the hair follicles. While this may sound painful, most people describe the sensation they feel as tiny pinches or a warm pinprick. The extent of the discomfort will vary depending on the area being treated – areas such as your upper lip and armpits are the most sensitive to hair removal. But don’t fret! Many lasers have a cooling mechanism located on the tip to help minimize discomfort throughout the procedure.
You can treat unwanted hair just about anywhere.
Armpits, chin, upper lip, legs, and the bikini line are some of the most common treatment locations, although the sky’s the limit with this procedure. You should, however, avoid the area immediately surrounding the eyelid, and if you have tattoos, then those areas are also off-limits.
You’ll benefit from more than just hair removal.
While you may be looking forward to clearer, smoother skin, you can also reap one additional benefit of laser hair removal: treating your ingrown hairs. To get to the root of the problem (literally), the laser used during treatment damages your hair follicle and its ability to produce more hair. So, you’re not only getting rid of ingrown hairs, but also preventing them in the future.
You might have hair that grows back.
Unfortunately, laser hair removal does not promise permanent hair removal. Results vary from person to person and can be impossible to predict at initial treatment. However, the majority of people do remain hairless in treated areas for several months, if not years. And, when hair grows back, it usually shows up finer and less coarse, as well as lighter in color. Your provider might recommend getting touch-up treatments quarterly or even annually to stay on top of future hair growth.
Fuzz-free skin doesn’t have to be a pipe dream! Laser hair removal is safe, effective, and fast (a full-face appointment might only take 20 minutes). A quick chat with your provider can let you know if laser hair removal is the right treatment for you.