Laser hair removal is a permanent alternative to shaving or waxing that removes unwanted hair. The treatment stops new hair from growing by using pulsed light from a laser to penetrate the hair follicles. The heat generated from the laser destroys the hair follicles and prevents future hair growth. Laser hair removal is safe and effective for women and men on all parts of the body, except under the eyebrows.
“The underarms and bikini area (“full Brazilian”) are the most popular areas of the body we treat for women, and men often see me to treat their backs,” said Joy Manske, LE, a clinical esthetician at FORME™ Aesthetic and Vein Center. “But treating the face is what I find most rewarding because the results mean so much to my clients and make such a difference in how they feel about their appearance.”
1. Will laser hair removal work for me?
Laser hair removal can be done on all skin types, but the treatment is only effective on dark hair. It is not effective on blonde, red, gray and white hair.
“The pigment in the hair is what attracts the light energy produced by the laser machine,” Manske said.
Lighter shades of hair have less melanin in the hair follicles than darker shades of hair. The lighter the hair, the less pigment it holds, and the more difficult it is to treat.
2. How many sessions do I need for laser hair removal?
You can expect an average of 6-12 treatments over several months. Each treatment will be spaced five weeks apart. Larger areas of the body or areas where the hairs are denser may need more treatments.
Laser hair removal is a process of reduction. At first, you may notice the hairs in the treated area are finer and fewer in number. This is because individual hairs grow at different rates and is why it usually takes several laser hair removal treatments to achieve noticeable results.
The four stages of hair growth are:
- Anagen phase: the growing phase of hair
- Catagen phase: when the hair follicle begins to shrink
- Telogen phase: the resting phase
- Exogen phase: when the follicle sheds the hair and begins new growth
“Unless the hairs are in the anagen phase, where the hairs are growing and connected to the dermal papilla (which are the cells in the bottom of the hair shaft) the laser will not be able to destroy the follicle to prevent it from coming back,” Manske said.
3. How permanent is laser hair removal?
Once an area has been fully treated, the hair that was removed is permanently gone. In order for laser hair removal to be most effective, it is important to stay on track with your treatments once you start.
“If you wait too long between treatments, you’ll see thinning of the hair but not permanent removal,” Manske said.
Due to hormone changes, it is possible for new hair growth to occur in a treated area. This tends to be most common for women in the upper lip and chin area, according to Manske. In this case, maintenance treatments may be needed.
4. Is laser hair removal painful?
The sensation of laser hair removal is different than other well-known hair removal techniques, like shaving, plucking, waxing or threading. What you experience during laser hair removal is most commonly described as a similar sensation to the snapping of a hot rubber band on skin.
“We work with people to make the treatments comfortable,” Manske said. “The skin is heated from the laser during treatment, but we use a cooling machine at the same time, which helps a lot. We can also choose between two different lasers depending on the area, to make treatments more comfortable.”
After the treatment is over, there is no downtime. Side effects, if any, are typically minor. Some people may experience redness or slight swelling around the hair follicle.
5. How do I get the best results from laser hair removal?
Many spas, salons and clinics offer laser hair removal. Make it a priority to choose a licensed esthetician who is trained and experienced in the treatment.
“Laser hair removal is a treatment that requires an immense amount of precision on the esthetician’s part, so you want to choose someone who has done this many times and has an eye for accuracy,” Manske said. “Part of what differentiates us at FORME is how thorough our laser hair removal treatments are, which results in fewer treatments. We also have academic clinical expertise as we are a part of the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network, which means we partner with board-certified physicians on consults when needed.”
Laser hair removal treatment costs vary based on the size of the area being treated and the number of treatments needed. At FORME Aesthetic and Vein, we offer several treatment packages to meet your individual needs. In most cases, laser hair removal is considered cosmetic and is not covered by insurance.
If you’re interested in learning more, we encourage you to schedule a consultation to determine if laser hair removal is an appropriate treatment for you. During consultations at FORME, our team will discuss your skin type, the area of your body you would like to treat and any relevant medical history. From here, we provide an individualized treatment recommendation.