Laser Hair Removal: The Ultimate Guide to Laser Hair Removal
Do you struggle with hair that grows too fast and thick?
Is your growing hair in unwanted spots?
Are you tired of shaving or waxing?
Dealing with unwanted hair not only costs money but it also wastes one of our most precious commodities, time.
Free yourself from the need to shave or wax unwanted body hair in order to look and feel your best. Shaving only lasts a couple of days for most people, while waxing has to be repeated every few weeks.
Why put yourself through shaving, tweezing, or waxing if you’re only getting short-term results?
If you’re like us and these questions are weekly annoyances then sit back while we educate you about laser hair removal in Ottawa.
What is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal is a long-lasting, non-invasive method for reducing or removing unwanted body hair. With laser hair removal, just a few simple treatments are all it takes to reduce hair growth leaving behind smoother and silkier looking skin anywhere on the body.
Laser hair removal is done by exposing an area of skin to pulses of laser light with the goal of preventing further growth from the hair follicle. This simple and convenient process is done without harming the surrounding skin, and without downtime.
Laser hair removal was invented in the late 1990s, and has been used worldwide since. This researched and effective treatment has become more mainstream over the past decade with prices becoming very reasonable in most major cities. Concept Medical was actually one of the very first clinics in Ottawa to offer laser hair removal.
Before we get into any more specifics let’s take a look at exactly how laser hair removal works.
How does Laser Hair Removal work?
We have skimmed over the treatment, but now it’s time to dig deeper into the laser hair removal process.
First, it is important to understand the way hair growth works for a person to appreciate the entire laser hair removal process.
Hair growth occurs in growth cycles, but not every hair follicle goes through a cycle at the same time and speed. More importantly, not every hair is in the growth phase at the same time. This concept is important to remember.
The laser technology targets the hair follicles that are about to enter or are in the active phase of hair growth (known as the anagen phase). This is because during the active growth phase, the hair is in contact with the bottom of the follicle, where hair growth begins. By effectively targeting the hair follicles at this time it destroys the follicle itself preventing the hair from growing back.
The devices used for laser hair removal uses a visible or invisible infrared light to help target the dark pigment, melanin, found in hair.
Melanin occurs in high density at the base of a hair follicle, which absorbs the light and converts it into heat. The heat energy is what damages the follicle causing the hair to fall out and preventing regrowth.
Hair removal lasers usually operate between 700 – 1400 nanometers depending on which type of laser is being used. The process matches a wavelength of light and pulse duration determined by the skin and hair type of each individual.
Some wavelengths (and lasers) are better than others for laser hair removal, and it is important to ensure your clinic offers you a laser that is specific for laser hair removal.
The treatment is most effective on lighter skin that grows darker hair, but laser hair removal technology is advanced now to yield excellent results for darker skin as well.
However, the treatments are yet to produce significant results for grey, white, or light red hair. For these patients, electrolysis may be a more effective option.
How to prepare for Laser Hair Removal
If you decide to move forward with the laser hair removal there will be a few things to prepare you for the treatment.
First off, any treatment should begin with a detailed consultation by a medical or qualified health professional to ensure laser hair removal is safe for you. Remember, lasers are very powerful, and side effects do occur if laser hair removal is performed incorrectly.
The person doing the treatment will be your technician. The technician will tell you to shave the night before or morning of your appointment. This is crucial to safe and effective results.
Do not use any skin creams the day of your treatment and do not wax for at least 2-4 weeks prior to your treatment.
The treatment involves a laser looking for pigment within your follicles so ideally you want to shave as close as you can. For the best results try soaking in a tub, exfoliate, and shave everything completely bare.
Your technician may want to shave the area again prior to treatment to ensure there is not stubble above the skin. This will help to ensure your treatment is effective, and as safe as possible.
Remember every laser appointment should be done by a professional technician. The technician will do everything to help you feel comfortable.
Avoiding caffeine prior to the treatment may be helpful to calm any nerves during your first treatment. Try having a calming tea to help settle any nerves you may have if you are a more anxious person. However, after your first treatment, this is usually not necessary.
One last thing to think about before your appointment is the time it takes to complete the whole process. Laser hair removal takes more than one appointment because of how the hair cycle works. This means that the entire process can take a few months (discussed more in the next section).
If you are a summer person, and want to have less hair for the summer your last treatment would be a month or two before the summer season begins. Make sure to plan accordingly!
What to Expect During the Process
The preparation is done and it’s time for your first appointment. Here comes the most popular question of laser hair removal:
Does it hurt?
Before we answer that, let’s backtrack a little. Remember, laser hair removal is a medical procedure that requires a trained technician to perform correctly and ensure all safety precautions are met. The technician will provide you with protective eye shields to prevent injury to your eyes.
To help protect the outer layers of your skin a cold gel is typically used. This gel will also help make the treatment more effective by facilitating the laser light through the skin. It will also make the treatment more comfortable, helping to disperse some of the heat.
Most lasers will use a high-energy laser beam, which will be adjusted to the colour, thickness, and location of hair on your skin. One other key factor will be your skin tone. Some lasers cannot be used on dark skin colours while some lasers may be used on any colour of skin. Make sure you discuss this with your technician prior to treatment.
Next, the technician will give a pulse of light to a treatment test area. This area will be watched for a few minutes to make sure the best settings are used and to check for any untoward reactions. This is called a test pulse, and ensures treatment is safe.
When the settings are approved the laser is then systematically directed spot-by-spot towards the areas to be treated. The laser will instantly disable the active growth of hair follicles.
Now here comes the answer to your question…
The appointment itself will likely last 30-60 minutes, but should not be painful. The sensation is often compared to warm pinpricks against the skin or mini snaps of a rubber band.
After you have made it through your first appointment do not start throwing away your razors quite yet!
How long for Laser Hair Removal results?
The results from laser hair removal are immediate for a certain percentage of the treated area. A certain number of hairs are in a resting phase, rather than a growth phase. The laser will only be effective on the hairs in a growth phase.
On average, it takes 4-10 treatment sessions to achieve maximum results for an area. Some patient will notice results after 1-2 treatments, while a few patients may need more than 10. The treatments need to be spaced out about 1 month apart to allow the resting phase hairs to grow.
Certain parts of the body will respond faster than other parts of the body. For example, the bikini line is usually done quicker than the face.
Is there any recovery from Laser Hair Removal?
When the procedure is completed you may be given ice packs, cold water, or anti-inflammatory creams to soothe the treated areas although this is not usually needed if performed correctly.
Remember multiple sessions are required so do not be throwing out any of those razors yet. However, do not wax in between sessions, as you want to have the base of the hair touching the follicle to ensure your next treatment is effective.
In almost all cases you may return to your daily activities immediately following the treatment, although follow the directions of your supervising physician and technician.
After the procedure, you should receive detailed instructions about your post-treatment care. This will involve information about skin care, normal symptoms you will experience, and potential signs of complications.
Most people notice slight redness or minor skin irritation immediately after the treatment – do not panic this is common and resolves quickly. After a few weeks, you will start to notice some hair growing back, this will be a warning signal to book the next appointment.
What are the benefits of Laser Hair Removal?
The benefits of laser hair removal should be pretty obvious to most but can be broken down into a clearer message. Lasers are useful for removing unwanted hair from the face, legs, arms, underarms, bikini line, and other areas such as the back and chest. Essentially any area can be treated with laser hair removal, if done by a qualified technician.
The lasers have great precision that can selectively target darker, thicker hairs while leaving surrounding skin undamaged (no more razor burn).
Each laser takes a fraction of a second and can treat many hairs at the same time making it a speedy process. The laser can treat an area approximately the size of a quarter every second. Small areas can be treated in less than a minute.
After four to eight sessions most patients will have tremendous hair loss and will not need to worry about buying razors or shaving.
Does Laser Hair Removal have any side effects?
Thankfully significant complications from laser hair removal are very rare. However, with it being a medical procedure it does have potential to cause some side effects.
The technician will discuss all potential side effects during your consultation prior to treatment. Ideally, you should have a consultation with a medical professional prior to treatment to ensure laser hair removal is safe for you.
Some of the risks specific to laser hair removal involve blistering, changes in skin color/texture, increased hair growth, or an eye injury. The technician will minimize your risk by providing you with advice and instructions for the treatment.
Overall, laser hair removal is very safe when provided by a suitably trained and qualified technician in a safe and controlled environment.