Hair Removal

I have heard about laser therapies to remove hair. Are these dangerous, and are the results permanent?

Lasers hair removal is the newest method to come down the pipeline. Contrary popular belief, it does not work for everyone. Also, while the results can become permanent, this is not guaranteed, nor will the desired effect be achieved in one session.

Laser is an intense beam of light. When it strikes an area, the light is drawn to the darker or pigmented parts. If the darkest part is the hair, then the heat and energy of the light beam will be concentrated on the hair. The temperature will become high enough to kill the hair follicle. But, the laser only works on hair follicles in the active phase of growth. Hair goes through other phases as well. About 50% of the hair follicles at any given time are in the resting phase, so these are unaffected by the laser. Also, different hair follicles' cycles are of different lengths. Some people will have follicles with strong resistance to destruction.

What does all this mean in practical terms?
First, it will take between three and six or more treatments for the hair removal to be permanent. Each session will catch different follicles in the active phase. Hair that is not entirely removed may grow back finer and lighter. Some women are satisfied with this and feel they don't need to continue treatments. Women with dark hair and light skin are the best candidates for laser hair removal. Only when there is a big difference in the darkness of the hair and skin will the laser be able to target the hair.For this reason, women who tan must avoid it for several months prior to the treatments. And given that hair and skin color tend to go together, this means that many women will have are not ideal candidates. Risks include pigment changes in the skin, and burns and blisters.

The number of treatments and the interval between them is set by the doctor. Some will give patients an anesthetic cream to apply to the area before treatment. If not is used, the pain is like a rubber band snapping on the skin. The area is shaved before the laser is used.

For small areas, such as the chin or lip, the procedure takes a few minutes. For areas like the legs, it takes a few hours. Sensitive areas, like the bikini line, require ice packs and pain medication afterwards.

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