Laser hair removal is just one of many ways to get rid of unwanted hair, but its long-term effectiveness is one reason it’s a very popular choice. At Chetco Medical & Aesthetics in Brookings, OR, we offer this type of hair removal precisely because it’s effective and offers permanent hair reduction.
How Permanent Is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal offers permanent hair reduction. Is laser hair removal permanent? No, but 100% as efficient as permanent hair removal for every single treated hair forever. That said, the results are much longer-lasting than with other forms of hair removal, and it so drastically reduces hair growth that you’ll be able to throw away your razor and maintain smooth, hair-free skin with just a very occasional maintenance treatment.
To understand why laser hair treatments are more effective than other hair removal options, and to fully understand what “permanent reduction” means, it’s key to know how the laser works.
Removing Unwanted Hair
All hair-removal methods fall into one of two categories. Either they treat the hair only, or they attack the follicles from which hair grows. Shaving and depilatory creams, for instance, treat only the hair that appears above the surface of the skin. Plucking, waxing, and sugaring also deal with the hair only, but they remove the whole hair, not just what can be seen above the skin.
Intense pulsed light—or IPL—and laser treatments, as well as electrolysis, all deal with the follicles. These treatments last longer than other forms of hair removal because they’re going to the root of the problem instead of simply removing the hair. All three of these methods use energy of some type to disable the hair follicle so it can’t grow hair easily anymore.
How Laser Hair Treatments Work
In the case of the laser, in particular, the focused light energy of the laser beam gets turned into heat. That heat targets the melanin in the hair and travels down the hair shaft till it reaches the follicle. The heat then disables the follicle.
Compared to IPL
IPL and laser work on basically the same principle: they use light to generate heat. The difference is the IPL is a far less focused light than a laser. This means that the light, and the heat, of the IPL device is scattered, or basically wasted. The wasted heat doesn’t reach the follicle, so IPL doesn’t damage follicles as efficiently as a laser. It takes more treatments to get the same effect, and that effect doesn’t last as long.
The other problem with the scattered light of the IPL is that more of it reaches the skin rather than going where it should—to the follicle. This makes IPL less appropriate for those with darker skin or a tan. The newest IPL devices have overcome these limitations to a degree, but still not as effectively as a laser. And the at-home IPL devices you can buy are far less powerful than a medspa IPL and work well for a much narrower range of people.
Compared to Electrolysis
Electrolysis is actually capable of 100% permanent hair removal, but there are significant reasons to avoid it. Instead of using light to generate heat and disable the follicles, electrolysis uses electricity to kill them completely. There are three enormous downsides to this method.
Electrolysis uses hair-thin needles inserted into the hair follicles to deliver the electric current. That might sound painful, and if it does, it shows your instincts are correct. It’s much more painful than laser hair removal. What’s worse, it’s much more time-consuming, too. If you’re removing more than just a couple of hairs, it takes a long time to target each one, and each target is a new pain.
The final problem with electrolysis is cost. The device itself and the time commitment add up to a hefty initial cost that many people can’t afford out of pocket if they need to remove hair from a larger area.
The Benefits of Laser Hair Removal
Drastically Reduced Hair Growth
Eventually, the disabled follicles will be able to grow hair again, but for most people, that won’t happen and it works as good as permanent hair removal for quite a long time after a laser treatment. What’s more, the hair that does grow back tends to come back thinner and much slower-growing, meaning you’ll likely never need to shave again with just an occasional maintenance treatment.
Any place on the body where you have unwanted hair can be treated. This includes the obvious and popular places, like the legs, bikini line, face, and underarms, but also the stomach, chest, and back. Women often seek laser treatments, of course, but laser hair removal is also for men. It’s a great way to get rid of or thin out the hair on the back, chest, face, and neck.
It’s More Comfortable Than You’d Expect
If you’ve ever waxed, you know how painful it can be to have your hair ripped out! Thankfully, laser hair treatments aren’t anything like that. The laser itself comes with a cooling tip to make things more comfortable, and we know how to use ice to enhance your comfort even further. We can also offer numbing cream if you would like. Just talk to us about your concerns at your consultation.
FAQ About Treatment
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
The number of treatments you need will depend entirely on your goals and the size of the area you want to be treated. If you only want to target the face, for instance, you can treat the whole target area in one session. If you want to remove hair from your bikini line, both legs, and under your arms, you might need two sessions to treat the entire area, depending on how much time you have.
Your goals are also important to consider. For example, a woman trying to get rid of enough hair on her legs to give up shaving completely will need more total treatments to accomplish this than a man who just wants to thin out his beard to avoid razor burn. When you meet with us for a consultation, we can help you set up a treatment plan that will get you the results you need. For most people, though, it will take three to seven sessions to get the best results.
Why Can’t I Have Treatments a Day or Two Apart?
When you set up your treatment plan, you’ll notice that we allow several weeks between treatments. That’s because of the nature of hair growth. It’s not more effective to have more frequent treatment.
Our hair grows and stops growing in a natural cycle of stages. It spends the most time in the active growth stage, but there are several other stages that take a few weeks to get through.
Not every hair is in the same stage at the same time. If they were, you’d notice the hair on your head, for example, growing continuously for several years and then suddenly stopping for months or years at a time. Instead, the individual hairs are always at different points in the cycle.
Growth Stages and Laser Treatments
The laser is only able to disable hair follicles in the active growth stage. Any hair that was in a different stage at the time of treatment will be unaffected. We wait a few weeks before your next treatment to give those hairs time to re-enter the growth stage.
Am I a Good Candidate for Treatment?
In the past, laser treatments weren’t right for those with darker skin or lighter hair. Today, modern lasers can do a lot more, so there are fewer limitations. Come talk to us to find out if this is right for you. It’s right for most people who don’t have an active infection or rash in the area they want to be treated and who don’t have a condition that makes their skin extra sensitive to light.
How Do I Prepare for a Treatment?
Your first step should be to avoid plucking, waxing, or epilating the treatment area for six weeks. The laser needs hair to target if it’s going to reach and disable the follicles, so removing all the hair the way these treatments do is counterproductive. However, you don’t have to just let the hair grow for six weeks! It’s perfectly fine to shave it. In fact, you should shave the day before.
If you’re taking any medications that make you photo-sensitive, you’ll need to stop taking them before treatment. Talk to your doctor about whether doing so would be safe for you.
What Happens During Treatment?
When you come in for your first treatment, we’ll make sure the area is shaved and then apply numbing cream or ice as you prefer. Both you and your aesthetician will wear eye protection, even if you’re not being treated on the face, just out of an abundance of caution.
We’ll slowly move the handheld laser device in a grid around the target area, being sure to treat every spot. You’ll feel the warmth from the laser during this time. When it’s over, you’re free to go about your day without downtime or a recovery period.
What Should I Do After Treatment?
After treatment, simply treat your skin as if you’d spent a little too much time in the sun. Baby it with moisturizers and don’t expose it to the sun without plenty of sunscreen. Avoid extreme heat for a day or two.
For some people laser hair removal side effects are slight redness of the skin.
Can I Do This at Home?
There is no at-home equivalent to the laser hair treatments we can offer at Chetco Medical & Aesthetics. Many at-home devices are offered on the internet, but these are not nearly as effective, so you’ll have to treat yourself over and over again to see any results.
They may also be more uncomfortable, and they’re suitable for fewer skin types and hair colors. In worst-case situations, they can cause burns and hyperpigmentation if not used precisely according to directions.
Is It Really Worth It?
It’s normal to wonder if paying for a treatment like this is worth it when you can simply shave off the hair for almost nothing. But in the long run, laser hair treatments offer you genuine savings of both time and money.
Consider shaving: the average woman will spend more than 80 days out of her life shaving and approximately $10,000 on shaving products. For the average man, the costs in time and money are only a little bit less. A laser treatment requires an initial commitment of time and money, but once it’s done, you’re done dealing with that hair.
Get Rid of Your Hair Today
If you’re sick of shaving, waxing, or other ineffective hair removal treatments and want to take back your time (and your life!) visit us at Chetco Medical & Aesthetics in Brookings, OR today and set up a consultation to learn more about how laser hair removal can help you.