What is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal reduces unwanted hair so you do not have to worry about pain from waxing, the hassle of regrowth, or discomfort from ingrown hairs.
Hair Removal Areas Treated
At Signature Plastic Surgery, our lasers used for hair removal are specific for that task, and they can safely treat just about any part of the body. We typically perform hair removal on these areas of the body:
- Bikini area
- Face, especially the upper lip and chin
At Signature, we can remove hair just about anywhere. The two exceptions are the inside of the ears or nose, and the male genitalia. Obviously, we don’t remove hair around the eyes.
Is laser hair removal painful?
When the laser delivers its pulses, it feels like a small rubber band is snapped against the skin. To keep you comfortable, we apply a topical numbing cream prior to your session. Also, our laser shoots out a cryogen spray prior to delivering the laser energy to cool and protect the skin in the treatment area. After your treatment is complete, we apply a topical steroid and ice to help with any post-treatment discomfort.
Is there anything I need to do to prepare for my session?
Laser hair removal is most effective when there is a high contrast between the color of the patient’s skin and his or her hair color. So, avoiding hanging out poolside is important before your appointment. Here are some things to do to prepare for your laser hair removal session at Signature:
- Avoid plucking, waxing, and electrolysis — For the laser energy to get down into the follicle, the hair needs to be actively anchored in the follicle. Plucking, waxing, and electrolysis all disturb the follicle. Shaving is fine, as it doesn’t affect hair in the follicle.
- Avoid sun exposure — If you have a tan, you need to let it fade before coming in for your session. That can be a challenge in sunny Las Vegas, but it is important. As a rule, we advise patients to not have any sun exposure on the areas with unwanted hair for 4-6 weeks prior to their session.
- Clean your skin — The treatment areas need to be free from cosmetics, lotions, and creams. If you’ve applied deodorant and are having your underarms treated, we will remove it prior to your session.
- Certain skincare products — Certain anti-aging skincare products can cause irritation when interacting with laser energy. These include alphahydroxy acid, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and others. We’ll discuss these with you and tell you what to avoid for a few days before and after your appointment.
How does laser hair removal work?
Some people assume the laser energy vaporizes the visible hair. There are two problems with that — the energy needed to do that would hurt the skin, and the hair would still grow back. The key to successful laser hair removal is damaging the hair follicle. And the key to the hair follicle is the melanin in the hair shaft.
We match the wavelength of the laser energy in our hair removal laser to the melanin in your unwanted hair. The melanin gives your hair (and your skin, too) it's color. When we direct very short pulses of laser energy down onto those unwanted hair shafts, the melanin absorbs the light energy and it converts to heat. That heat travels down the hair shaft into the follicle at the base. The heat then damages or destroys the hair follicle, preventing it from producing hair in the future.
How many sessions will I need?
As mentioned above, catching the hair in the growth phase is important to effectively damage the hair follicles. The transition and resting phases of the hair growth cycle don’t allow the laser energy to get down into the hair follicle. That’s why a series of sessions are necessary to create the level of permanent hair reduction our Signature Plastic Surgery patients seek.
In our experience between six and 10 treatments achieves the degree of hair reduction that satisfies most patients. Each session needs to be spaced from 4-6 weeks apart. Annual maintenance sessions can catch any follicles that were only partially damaged and returned to growing hair.
Is laser hair removal permanent?
The FDA approved lasers to be used for “permanent hair reduction.” This usually means around 85 percent hair reduction. This means 85 percent of your unwanted hair will be gone.
Why not 100 percent? First, lasers only damage hair in the anagen (growth) cycle. But hairs can also be in the catagen (transitional phase between growth and rest) or the telogen phase (resting). The catagen and telogen phases involve stopping nourishment to the hair, shedding it, and restarting a new hair shaft. That’s why lasers don’t affect hair in these phases; they’re already on their way out. And the laser energy can’t get into the follicle to damage it. Every hair on the human body is independent and works alone. Considering that the human body has around five million hairs on it (men have a few hundred thousand more than women), those are a lot of hair follicles to hope to catch in the anagen phase for effective laser removal.
Second, damaged follicles can rebuild with hormonal changes. Plus, if a follicle is only partially damaged, it may heal and begin to regrow hair.
Obviously, if you are doing a small area, such as your upper lip, you can more easily achieve higher levels of permanent removal than a larger area such as your legs.
What to expect after laser hair removal?
Cool compresses and moisturizers may help the area treated. Wearing sunscreen for the following month to help prevent temporary changes in the color of the treated skin. Over the next month, your treated hair will fall out.
"Love this office!! I have been going here for almost 2 years. They have provided laser hair removal, facials, and the micro pen multiple times. Beautiful office and professional staff!! Everyone I have seen has been great but recently I have been treated by Mikaela and she does great work!!"
Laser Hair Removal Side Effects
Lasers have been used for commercial hair removal since 1997, the year the FDA approved their use for “permanent hair reduction.” They were tested for approximately two decades before that. Laser hair removal is a very popular procedure around the world and has proven to be safe, comfortable, and effective. There are very few risks, really only skin burns, and those are the result of inexperienced or poorly trained providers. That’s why you should only trust your laser hair removal to the highly trained, vastly experienced team at Signature Plastic Surgery & Dermatology.