What is laser hair removal?
Most women in find that shaving, waxing, and tweezing unwanted hair can be very inconvenient and time consuming. To make sure you’re ready for the Phoenix heat and sun our team highly recommends laser hair removal to reduce and possibly stop the growth of unwanted hair so that patients can have smooth skin all the time. Laser hair removal is one of the most common procedures performed in our office. It involves applying pulses of concentrated light into the patient’s hair follicles. The intense heat damages the hair follicle and instantly inhibits its ability to produce any more hair.
Laser hair removal works for both light and dark hair. For a more permanent hair removal, patients would need to have several sessions to achieve this result. It is very common for patients to have treatments for their upper lips, chin, armpits, legs, and bikini line. But it is possible to have this treatment on any part of the body except for the eyelid area and the area surrounding it.
Why should patients consider laser hair removal?
Aside from the convenience of not having to shave, pluck, or wax your unwanted hair ever again, a laser hair removal procedure has other advantages. The use of lasers over other hair removal techniques is more precise and it can effectively target coarse hair without damaging the surrounding skin. Laser hair removal is a non-invasive technique that can help remove unwanted hair in almost any part of your body.
Laser hair removal is not time consuming because more areas of the skin can be covered or treated in less time. For example, removing hair in the upper lip will take less than a minute and treatment of large areas such as the legs will take just an hour.
The results of each session of laser hair removal in our office are very consistent. We have found that more than 90% of our patients had permanent hair loss just after 3 to 5 sessions of laser hair removal. This just proves that this is a very effective alternative to long lasting hair removal.
What is a laser removal procedure like for patients?
Patients who are scheduled for a treatment session will have the hair in the treatment area trimmed just a few millimeters above the patient’s skin surface. The laser that will be used will be adjusted to fit the patient’s hair color, thickness, as well as location.
A cold gel or a special cooling device will be applied to the skin to protect it during the whole procedure and will also help the laser penetrate the skin better. Pulses of light will be applied to the treatment area and once the whole area has been treated, patients will be provided anti-inflammatory creams or ice packs to relieve any discomfort from the treatment. Each laser hair removal session is done at an interval of six weeks per session until we establish that the hair follicles have lost their ability to produce new hair. We use the following machines for laser hair removal, Cynosure, 810 Diode and 1064 Yag.
How does laser hair removal work?
The key to successful, enduring laser hair removal is the hair follicle. It needs to be damaged or destroyedto stop it from growing hair. To do that, the vehicle is laser energy and melanin. Melanin is what gives your hair (and skin) its color.
At Stockton Dermatology, we set our laser wavelength to match the melanin in your unwanted hair. We then deliver the laser energy in short pulses. The laser light is absorbed by the melanin in the hair shaft, and it converts to heat energy. That heat travels down the hair shaft into the hair follicle, where it is anchored and growing. The heat damages or disables the hair follicle and it is no longer able to grow hair.
What areas can I have laser hair removal done?
The laser energy used for hair removal is safe and doesn’t burn the skin. For that reason, we have patients who have laser hair removal on areas all over their bodies. The only exceptions are the nostrils, inside the ears, and on the male genitalia.
At Stockton Dermatology, the most popular laser hair removal areas with our patients are the bikini line, the underarms, the sideburns, the upper lip, the back, and the legs. Some women opt for more Brazilian type removal on the pubic area. Some men do their entire chest, and some even target their beard area.
Is laser hair removal truly permanent?
People wonder why they need to have multiple laser hair removal sessions, and why every single unwanted hair cannot be removed. The problem is the hair growth cycle.
Every one of the five million or so hairs on the average human (men have a few hundred thousand more than women) operates independently. Each hair follicle moves in and out of the three phases of the hair growth cycle — anagen (growth), catagen (transitional), and telogen (resting). Laser energy can only damage the hair follicle when the hair is in the growth phase. This is because that is when the hair is anchored in the follicle and actively growing. In the catagen and telogen phases, the hair is already on its way out as the body is in the process of shedding it. The hair is no longer receiving any nourishment from the follicle and it may have already separated from the follicle. This is why laser energy applied to hairs in these phases can’t get down into the follicle. When you think of the number of unwanted hairs you’re seeking to target, catching each unwanted hair in the growth phase isn’t easy.
Second, damaged follicles can rebuild sometimes with hormonal changes, and partially damaged follicles can heal and begin to grow hair again. So, how much hair can you permanently get rid of? It’s from 85 to 90 percent in the treatment areas. And that’s why the FDA approval for laser hair removal is for “permanent hair reduction,” not complete removal.
Would I be a good candidate for laser hair removal?
All of us have hair in places we’d rather not, so pretty much everyone could use a little laser hair removal. The process works best when there is a distinction between hair color and skin tone. That makes it easier for the laser energy to be absorbed by the darker hair. Grey, white or blonde hair will not have optimal results. Utilizing laser wavelengths, like a 1064 ND. YAG provide safe and effective treatments for the darkest complexions.
After I’ve had a treatment, how long does it take to see results?
Some people incorrectly assume that laser hair removal zaps the hair instantly. But the energy used is way too low for that. Plus, that would only remove the shaft, similar to shaving, and the follicle would still be intact and growing hair. When you return home after your session at Stockton Dermatology, your hair will still be there and your skin will be slightly red. This can seem disappointing — after all, your results with waxing and the like are instant. But the vehicle for their growth is now damaged or destroyed. Without the follicle to anchor them, the hairs will begin to fall out over the following days. You need to be patient and not pluck or scrub the hairs to accelerate their falling out. Let them do it on their timeframe.
After a few days, it will look like there is new hair growing on the treatment areas. This can be even more disconcerting, but don’t worry. This is a sign that the laser energy was successful in zapping the follicles. Hair that was down below the skin in the follicles is being pushed out and shed.
Remember, not all of the hair in the treatment area will fall out. The hair that was in the growth phase will, but other hairs that weren’t will still be there. Usually the affected hair will be about 20 percent of the total during that session. That’s why multiple sessions are necessary — to catch more and more hair in the growth phase.
Is laser hair removal safe?
The FDA first approved lasers for hair removal almost 30 years ago. Prior to that approval, rigorous safety testing was performed. Over those nearly three decades of use, lasers have proven to be safe and effective for removing hair. And laser technology continues to improve to even be able to address lighter colored hair and darker skin tones.
The most common side effect after having laser hair removal at Stockton Dermatology is some redness and possible slight swelling on the treatment areas. This usually passes within a few hours.
For more information about receiving laser hair removal in Phoenix, AZ at Stockton dermatology, call us at (480) 610-6366.