Dr. Charlotte Ann Rhee is a Board Certified Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon in Huntington, Long Island NY that provides laser hair removal services. Laser hair removal is a cosmetic procedure used to remove unwanted body hair with pulsed laser energy. This procedure removes hair from the targeted area while leaving the surrounding skin unharmed. Common areas on which laser hair removal is performed are the chin, upper lip, chest, underarms, back, bikini line and legs. Areas targeted are usually somewhat dependent on the gender of the patient.
While there are many temporary treatments to remove unwanted hair, such as tweezing, shaving, using depilatory creams and waxing, patients seeking more permanent, less irritating or painful methods, are frequently very pleased with laser hair removal. Through this safe, painless procedure, patients can enjoy long-term hair removal from nearly any area of the body with the exception of the eyes since there is a possibility of serious eye damage.
Candidates For Laser Hair Removal
Individuals whose excessive hair growth in a particular region of the body is bothersome are candidates for laser hair removal. Excessive hair growth may be the result of heredity, certain medications or disease processes, or hormonal changes during puberty, menopause or pregnancy, Whatever the cause of the condition, laser therapy may be an effective solution.
The success of laser hair removal is affected by hair color and skin type. The most effective results usually occur in individuals with dark hair and light skin. This is because the laser beams target the melanin, or pigment, in the hair. Individuals with blond, red, gray or white hair are not usually good candidates for laser hair removal. Recent technological advances have made laser hair removal for dark-skinned individuals more successful, while procedures to effectively remove light-colored hair with lasers are presently under investigation.
Benefits Of Laser Hair Removal
There are many benefits to having unwanted hair removed through the use of laser therapy. Among these are that laser hair therapy is:
- Precise, targeting dark coarse hairs for immediate removal.
- Quick, removing upper lip hair in only minutes
- Long-lasting, showing permanent results for 90 percent of patients
Laser Hair Removal Procedure
Laser hair removal is performed while the targeted area is numbed by a topical anesthetic. A handheld device that emits intense laser pulses is moved across the region, focusing on individual hair follicles. There are several different methods of laser hair removal, some of which combine laser impulses with radiofrequency. An appropriate method for each individual patient is decided in consultation with the physician administering treatment.
Hair growth takes place cyclically in three stages. The most effective laser hair removal takes place during the andogen, or full-growth stage. Hair follicles that are in a stage of active growth will be disabled by the laser energy, stopping continued hair growth. Because all of the hair is not in the same stage of growth at any given time, several laser treatments, usually between three and five, spaced 4 to 8 weeks apart, are necessary. To some extent, the length of necessary treatment will depend on the location and texture of the patient’s hair.
For many patients, laser hair removal is painless. Some individuals experience minimal discomfort, usually described as something like a rubber band snapping against the skin.
What Happens During Laser Hair Removal?
Your laser hair removal treatment is performed in a comfortable, private treatment room. To begin, your provider will clean the target area and apply a numbing cream to your skin. Then, the waiting. It can take at least half an hour for the topical cream to achieve the desired amount of desensitization. during that time, you may sit back and relax, listen to music, read, or enjoy other entertainment. When your skin is ready, you will be given a pair of protective eye goggles to wear. Your provider will also wear goggles to protect their eyes. Using a small handpiece, they deliver pulses of laser energy across the treatment area. As hair absorbs the laser energy, if you're watching, you may see small plumes of smoke. You may also notice a slight sulfur odor. Your treatment may last a few minutes or more than an hour.
Is Laser Hair Removal Painful?
Laser hair removal works by directing wavelengths of light into the hair follicles. The light vaporizes strands of hair, causing heat within dozens of hair follicles at once. You won't feel the heat of the laser energy during your treatment. What you can expect are many, momentary snaps or "zaps." That said, the location in which laser hair removal is performed will influence how intense this snapping sensation is. Generally, treatment on the legs, stomach, back, and arms is considered mildly to moderately uncomfortable. The underarms, bikini area, and upper lip are more sensitive areas for treatment, but, fortunately, are smaller locations that take less time. To make the process more comfortable, we apply a topical numbing agent to the skin prior to treatment.
Is There Any Downtime after Laser Hair Removal?
You do not need to schedule downtime after your laser hair removal appointment. You can return to most normal activities without prominent side effects or discomfort. Your provider can discuss activities that you should avoid. Your post-treatment instructions may also offer tips for managing slight side effects that could occur, such as a sunburned sensation.
What Are the Common Side Effects of Laser Hair Removal?
Significant side effects are uncommon after laser hair removal. However, because risks are involved, it is imperative that you obtain treatment from a fully-trained, experienced professional. To minimize side effects, we suggest refraining from excessive heat and sun exposure after your appointment. Following our aftercare instructions, you should easily limit laser hair removal side effects to temporary swelling, redness, and a slight feeling like a sunburn. These side effects can be managed by applying cold compresses to the skin for a few minutes, a few times a day.
After I've Had the Procedure, When Can I Have It Again?
It can be difficult to predict exactly how each person will respond to laser hair removal. Your sessions are scheduled every four to six weeks and, after you've completed your recommended number of treatments, we expect that you will enjoy lasting results. As efficient as laser hair removal is, some hair follicles may be damaged but not destroyed. At some point, these follicles may start to produce hair. Laser hair removal treatments can repeat as needed to address the minor hair growth that recurs over time.
Recovery From Laser Hair Removal
Some redness, soreness or swelling may occur immediately after a laser hair removal treatment, but these symptoms almost always disappear within a few days. Cold compresses or ice packs, moisturizers, and anti-inflammatory creams may minimize discomfort. Sun exposure should be avoided as much as possible for some period of time after treatment is complete.
Complications Of Laser Hair Removal
Although laser hair removal is considered a safe procedure, any type of medical procedure involves some risk of complication. The most common complication of laser hair removal is a regrowth of unwanted hair. Since some hair is resistant to laser treatment, it is possible for hair to regrow. Frequently, however, the hair that regrows after laser treatment is finer and lighter than the hair that has been removed. Most often, the problem of regrowth can be overcome with a few additional treatment sessions. Other complications that may arise after laser hair treatment include:
- Skin irritation, such as blistering or crusting
- Changes in pigmentation or texture of the skin
- Scarring at the site