What is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal (LHR) uses either laser energy or Broad Band Light (BBL) energy to damage the hair follicle. A common misconception is that LHR removes hair. It actually damages the follicle so that the hair grows in so fine and thin that you don’t even notice it- similar to the hairs on your cheek.
Who can have laser hair removal?
LHR is safe on all skin types, thanks to the technology available. But LHR only works on hair with pigment for the laser to target. Light red, blonde, and gray hair don’t have enough pigment to pick up the laser energy, so LHR does not work on them. If you have just a couple gray hairs in the wrong place (e.g. those long chin hairs that seem to pop up at the worst time!) electrolysis is a great option to permanently remove them.
LHR can even be done on young teens, but because they’re still going through hormonal changes, they will likely need a second round of treatment when puberty is complete. Pregnancy is another time when hair growth changes; many pregnant women notice hair is darker or more course. But LHR isn’t a good option during pregnancy because you’re fighting those hormonal changes. It is much more effective to wait until after pregnancy to do LHR, and it’s completely safe while breastfeeding, even when we use topical numbing cream, and you won’t need to pump-and-dump afterwards.
What areas of the body can LHR be done on?
The most common areas we treat with LHR are upper lip and chin, sideburns, axilla (armpit), arms, legs, stomach, back, and bikini area, including the full Brazilian area. LHR can be done on the eyebrows as well, but the hair is in so many different phases of the growth cycle that you may need more sessions than average. You can also do electrolysis if you want permanent hair removal in this area.
What is a laser hair removal treatment like?
The treatment feels a little hot, which makes sense because we’re delivering energy to the skin. During the treatment we’ll clean any makeup or lotion off the treatment area, then apply clear gel to both protect the skin better conduct the laser energy. We use numbing cream on sensitive areas such as the upper lip and axilla. And we offer the BBL Forever Bare in-motion technique. This technique allows us to deliver the needed energy more quickly and comfortably because the laser handpiece is moving the entire time.
How should you prepare for laser hair removal (and can you shave before LHR)?
One of the common misconceptions I hear about LHR is that you can’t shave beforehand. But we actually need to remove most of the hair, or else the laser will vaporize it, creating a lot of extra heat that is uncomfortable and could even damage the laser. So feel free to shave!
You will need to avoid waxing and plucking hair for at least 6 weeks before a laser hair treatment. LHR targets the follicle, and if you plug the hair, the follicle is removed. Waxing and plucking hair can also irritate the skin, making it more sensitive to a treatment.
Do stay out of the sun for two weeks before and two weeks after a laser hair removal treatment. Although we can safely treat tan skin, the sun exposure makes skin more sensitive to the laser energy, and vice versa. And artificial tanner should be avoided as well. The color of the tanner will pick up the laser energy.
How many laser hair removal sessions will I need?
Hair follicles go through a cycle of growth: anagen is the phase when hair is actively growing. During catagen the hair starts to separate from the follicle, and the follicle shrinks. The next phase is telogen: hair is no longer actively growing, but remains attached. The hair is shed during exogen.
Laser hair removal only targets the actively growing follicle. Hair is in all different phases of the growth cycle (otherwise we would go bald, then regrow hair!) so we need to do several treatments to target new hair follicles entering the actively growing phase.
You can expect to need 6-10 treatments depending on the area you’re treating.
Treatments are 4-12 weeks apart: closer together in areas where hair grows quickly, such as the upper lip, and spaced farther apart for slower growing hair, such as the back.
How much does laser hair removal cost?
LHR is less expensive than you might think! Most offices offer packages, since you will need multiple treatments. At Greer Plastic Surgery the cost of a package of six LHR treatments ranges from $500 for the upper lip to $1,500 for the lower legs.
Are you thinking about trying laser hair removal? Give us a call at (440) 974-8577 and we’ll set you up with a complimentary consultation to find out if LHR is right for you!