Laser hair removal is a fantastic invention. We are no longer limited to choosing between living in a primate’s body or painful and never-ending (and costly) waxing. However, there are important aspects to consider before moving forward with laser hair removal. Here’s our essential overview:
Laser Hair Removal Introduction
The laser hair removal is one of the most common cosmetic procedures in the U.S. The process works by targeting the hair follicle, killing it, thus rendering it impossible to grow new hair from that follicle. Laser hair removal is most commonly used to reduce hair growth on back, underarms, legs, face, neck, and bikini line. However, laser hair removal can be used to permanently reduce hair on any part of the body. The laser used for this is most often a diode, such as the Alma Soprano XL that Bare Tattoo & Hair Removal utilizes.
Hair Growth Cycles
In order to understand how laser hair removal works, it is important to understand how hair grows. Hair grows from the follicle, which is deep within the dermis layer of the skin. The hair grows in 3 cycles:
- Anagen – Lengthy, active growth phase . This is the phase during which the laser is able to target and kill the hair follicle.
- Catagen – Short transitional period where the hair stops growing and the follicle shrinks and detaches from the dermal papilla from which it derives nutrients.
- Telogen – The resting phase during which the follicle reattaches to the dermal papilla and begins to grow again. The dead hair strand is pushed out of the follicle by the new strand.
How Laser Hair Removal Works
A specific type of laser, called a diode, emits concentrated light that penetrates through the epidermis and targets the hair follicle. The energy is absorbed by the pigment in the hair follicle and is enough power to kill the follicle but not damage the surrounding skin. The hair falls out and is not able to re-grow.
Who Are Ideal Candidates?
Light emitted by the laser will be absorbed by all pigment. As a result, fair skin tones with dark hair are better candidates. Although not all lasers are approved by the FDA for treatment on all skin types, the Alma Soprano XL used by Bare Tattoo & Hair Removal is approved and effective on all skin types. Energy levels on darker-skinned candidates will need to be lighter in order to avoid damage to the skin itself so more treatments than is typical may be required.
Laser Hair Removal Treatment Preparation
You’ll want to shave the treatment area prior to each laser hair removal session. Your laser technician will likely be able to shave for you but many clinics will charge an additional fee for this service.
Due to the light emission you will be given protective eyewear to prevent damage to your vision.
Many clients are nervous about the pain but are surprised that, depending on the laser, it is often virtually pain-free. A cooling gel or chilled tip of the laser will help prevent damage to the surrounding skin and improve comfort. At Bare Tattoo Removal’s Loop and South Loop clinic we offer these cooling techniques.
The Laser Treatment Itself
Treatment time varies depending on the size of the treatment area but is typically anywhere between a few minutes for a small area and an hour for a large area.
During treatment the laser glides over the skin and delivers concentrated pulses of light to target
The hair follicle is darkest during the anagen growth phase so this is the time when the laser is able to target and kill the hair follicle. Hair that is in the catagen or telogen growth phase at the time of treatment will not be targeted. Approximately 85% of hair on the body is in the anagen growth phase at any given time. This is one reason why multiple sessions are required in order achieve maximum reduction in hair growth.
Laser Hair Removal Aftercare
Redness or slight irritation are common for a day or two post-treatment. A topical cream may be recommended by your treatment provider to improve comfort, promote healing, and protect the skin. While laser hair removal can be performed year-round, it is important to protect the treatment area form sun exposure so a strong SPF sunscreen for the treatment area is recommended. Avoid waxing or plucking the treatment area and do not use products that may dry out or irritate the skin, such as an exfoliant or acid. Mild soap and water is fine.
Results and Expectations
It is common to see hair begin to appear seven to ten days after treatment. Many of those hairs are likely to be the dead root of the hair being pushed out of the follicle cavity. You will observe new hair growth within a few weeks as the hair follicles that were in the catagen or telogen phases enter the anagen phase and begin to grow again.
Subsequent treatments will be spaces 4 to 8 weeks apart in order to target the remaining hair when it is then in its anagen growth phase. The required number of treatments varies based on each individual but most clients require 6 to 8 treatments. Results and number of treatments will vary depending on skin type, hair type, and the hair growth phases. Note that laser hair removal will likely not achieve complete loss of hair. However, laser hair removal can reduce hair growth significantly over time and result in the smooth skin that you want.
At Bare Tattoo & Hair Removal in Chicago’s Loop, South Loop, and Munster, we offer treatment packages of 6 for a 20% discount and an offer of two additional “touch up” treatments at no additional cost.