One of the criteria for being a mammal is having hair. Almost all humans have some hair. Sometimes, hair grows in some locations more than we want. Some patients fight hair on a daily basis by shaving. Sometimes the hair is so severe that patients may have to shave twice a day! Whatever your current hair situation, as mammals, we are always fighting hair.
Throughout the years, there have been many different treatments for hair removal. These have included depilatory creams, waxing, electrolysis, and most recently, laser hair removal.
Because laser hair removal is affordable, virtually painless, and permanent, laser hair removal has become the gold standard for permanent hair removal.
How does laser hair removal work?
The laser engineers really worked overtime on this one. The laser engineers were able to calculate the actual wavelength of light that is absorbed by the pigment of your hair. The laser energy absorbed by your hair pigment passes through your skin, travels down the hair shaft, and encounters the follicle at the base. The follicle is the seed of the hair. The follicle is essential for hair to grow. Without the hair follicle, the hair will die. So, as the laser energy follows the pigment in the hair, the energy is then transferred to the follicle in the form of heat. Once the follicle is heated, the follicle dies and thus, the hair dies.
Present-day hair removal lasers are not just witchcraft and science fiction. Medical grade hair removal lasers are real. They are here to stay and are safe and effective. Currently, there are many FDA approved lasers that definitively remove unwanted hair.
Why doesn’t the laser get rid of all the hair in one treatment?
At any one time, all your hair is in different stages of hair growth. There are three stages of hair growth: the growth phase (anagen), resting phase (catagen), and falling out phase (telogen). Hair stays in the anagen phase for 3 to 5 years. Hair remains in the catagen phase for 1 to 3 weeks. Hair remains in telogen for 5 to 6 weeks.
Laser hair treatment only affects the hair in the active growth phase (anagen stage). During anagen phase, the hair follicle is closest to the skin. During anagen phase, the hair removal laser can reach the follicle easier, cause the follicle to heat up, and destroy the hair follicle. Some hairs lie dormant. During a laser hair session, hair that is not exposed cannot absorb the laser light. Therefore, these hairs cannot be lasered because the hair is not exposed. After laser hair removal session, dormant hairs will begin to grow naturally. Fortunately for laser hair treatments, 90% of hair is in the anagen phase leading to highly successful hair elimination with each treatment course.
How many laser hair treatments will I require?
The number of treatments depends on the amount of hair and percentage of your hair that is in the active growth phase. Usually, permanent hair removal with the laser requires 4 to 6 treatments. After three laser hair removal treatments, approximately 50% of your hair will be removed. After six laser hair removal treatments, about 90% of your hair will be gone.
How frequently do I need laser hair treatments?
The frequency of how often you will need laser hair removal depends on how quickly your hair grows. Usually, patients have laser hair treatments every 4 to 6 weeks.
How long does the laser hair removal procedure take?
The length of the laser hair removal session depends on how many areas you want to be addressed. The larger the area, the longer the laser hair treatment session will take. On average, laser hair treatments sessions take between 10 to 30 minutes to perform. Laser hair treatment can often be performed during your lunch break. There is virtually no downtime.
Is laser hair treatment painful?
Everyone’s tolerance to pain is different. Some patients experience pain even to mild stimuli. Some patients never feel pain, regardless of the stimulus. If you are sensitive to pain, laser hair removal may feel like a rubber band snapping on your skin. Most patients do not require anesthetics. However, if necessary, topical anesthetic creams can be applied. Also, there is a cooling device (like a portable air conditioner) which can be applied to the area to help numb your skin during laser hair removal.
What areas do women most commonly get treated with the laser?
Usually, women have their legs, underarms, upper lip, chin, bikini line and stomach treated with the laser.
What areas do men most commonly get treated with the laser?
Usually, men have their back, chest, ears, arms, stomach, and buttocks treated with the laser.
I have red hair. Will laser hair removal work for me?
Red hair has no pigment in the hair shaft. Since laser hair removal depends on the pigment inside the hair follicle, laser hair removal will not work on red, gray, or white hair.
I want the hair removed over my tattoo with the laser. Is it possible to have laser hair removal over a tattoo?
Laser hair removal should not be performed over a tattoo.
Can laser hair removal be carried out over permanent make-up?
Laser hair removal should not be performed over permanent make-up.
I have a history of keloids. Can I have laser hair removal even with a history of keloids?
Laser hair removal should not be performed on patients who are prone to keloids.
What should I avoid before laser hair removal?
Six weeks before laser hair removal treatment you should avoid waxing, tweezing, excess sun exposure, tanning beds, tanning creams, hair removal creams, and hair bleaches. These activities and creams can severely impede laser hair treatment and can cause permanent side effects. If you have a tan, you should wait until the tan fades before laser hair removal. Please let Dr. Katzen know if you have performed these procedures before your laser hair removal treatments.
Is there anything I should avoid after my laser hair removal?
For one week after laser hair removal, you should avoid activities which increase your body temperature. That means you should avoid exercising. You should avoid hot baths, saunas, and steam baths. Swimming should be avoided; the chemicals in the pool can cause skin irritation. Body lotions, aftershave, perfume, and makeup should be avoided to minimize skin irritation. After the first week, you can restart these activities.
For the first two weeks after laser hair removal, you need to avoid the sun. Additionally, you should avoid tanning beds and spray tan products.
Which type of hair gets the best results?
The darker your hair is compared to your skin, the better the laser light is absorbed in the hair, and the better the light is passed through the skin. Patients with light skin and dark hair will have the best results. Patients with darker skin and light hair will have poor results.
Are there medications I need to avoid for laser hair removal?
You need to stop taking Accutane for at least six months before laser hair removal. Also, you need to avoid certain antibiotics for two weeks before laser hair removal. Do not use any hair removal creams before laser hair treatment. Please be sure to tell Dr. Katzen about all your medications before any laser hair treatments.
Some interesting facts:
90% of women prefer men with less body hair
87% of people say they would have laser hair treatment repeated
77% of women remove arm pit hair (most shave)
76% of women remove leg hair (most shave)
70% of women remove bikini hair (most shave)
70 hrs. are wasted every year shaving your legs
65% of women remove upper lip hair (most wax)
$23K spent in a lifetime waxing
18% of all laser hair treatments are performed on men
10-25% reduction in hair growth can be expected with each laser hair removal treatment
$10K spent in a lifetime shaving
$3K spent in a lifetime on a laser
If you are considering laser hair removal, please contact Dr. Katzen. Dr. Katzen is an experienced, board-certified, celebrity plastic surgeon. Dr. Katzen has performed thousands of laser procedures and has written many papers on laser techniques. Dr. Katzen is an internationally recognized expert in the field of plastic surgery. To better serve you, Dr. Katzen has offices in Beverly Hills and Las Vegas. Get rid of those hairs permanently and painlessly! Contact Dr. Katzen today for laser hair treatment.