Does laser hair removal hurt? How does it work? Is laser hair removal safe for darker skin tones?
We'll answer these laser hair removal frequently asked questions and more below in this Q&A blog! While laser hair removal is an incredibly popular aesthetic treatment, there's still a lot of mystery surrounding the procedure. Because older technology still lingers in med spas and laser clinics, potential patients generally have several initial questions sparked from negative experiences they've observed. Keep reading to gain a deeper understanding of laser hair removal procedures, new technology, and patient experience.
1. How does laser hair removal work?
Laser hair removal prevents hair growth by destroying the hair follicle root. Practitioners treat the desired area with flashes of light distributed over the skin that target the melanin in the hair follicle. The melanin found in the hair follicle absorbs the light emitted from the laser and the energy heats and damages the follicle. By heating and damaging the follicle, the laser energy successfully stunts the cells that stimulate hair regrowth.
Note that all hair grows in a cycle, and laser hair removal can only be effective when administered during the "active growth" stage. Each strand can be in a different stage in the growth cycle at any time, so it's necessary to receive multiple laser treatments over time to target all the unwanted hair follicles. Learn more here.
2. Is laser hair removal painful?
No, if your practitioner is using modern technology, laser hair removal is not painful. Many older hair removal systems use antiquated methods that perpetuate the myth that laser hair removal is painful, but these devices often lead to painful, uncomfortable, lengthy patient experiences. Many older hair removal lasers appear to use "suction" techniques that are incredibly uncomfortable and slow. Newer hair removal lasers, like the MeDiostar®, allow practitioners to glide the laser handpiece over the skin smoothly. These more modern hair removal lasers generally include 360-degree contact-cooling built into the handpiece to increase patient comfort.
3. How long does a laser hair removal procedure take/what can I expect during a treatment?
Depending on the technology used, a laser hair removal treatment is surprisingly fast. Hair removal treatments are so fast that practitioners can generally treat a man's entire back in under 5 minutes! Practitioners can deliver exponentially faster treatments thanks to larger laser spot sizes found in new handpieces that can handle larger areas of skin. With more efficient technology introduced into the marketplace, many patients will even schedule their laser hair removal treatment during their lunch break and still have time to go about their day.
A typical laser hair removal treatment performed with new technology is relatively simple. Before arriving at your first appointment, shave the area you're treating with laser hair removal. During your treatment, the practitioner first cleans the area with an alcohol swab to prep the skin. Then, they apply aloe vera gel (or something similar) to the area to allow for smooth laser-skin contact. Patients may feel a warm sensation during treatment. After a few quick laser passes, the practitioner will wipe away any excess aloe vera gel. Bandaging is not required. Please note, each patient's treatment experience will vary depending on the laser and facility.
Yes, laser hair removal is safe for all skin tones, but be wary of the laser your practitioner is using. Modern laser hair removal technology, like the MeDioStar® diode laser, is appropriate to use on patients of all skin types (Fitzpatrick Scale I-VI).
The aesthetics community has long believed that patients who have darker skin tones aren't good candidates for laser hair removal because of the risk of hypopigmentation (lightening of the skin). While hypopigmentation may be a risk when using outdated lasers, newer technology has been designed with every potential patient in mind. The new MeDioStar® employs 810 nm and 940 nm wavelengths for safe and effective hair removal for all skin types because the two wavelengths have relatively low absorption rates of melanin, significantly decreasing the risk of hypopigmentation. Read more on safe laser hair removal for all skin types.
5. How many laser hair removal treatments will I need?
Most laser hair removal patients will need 6-10 treatments to achieve their desired results. Patients should schedule each laser treatment 4-6 weeks apart to target hair follicles during the hair cycle's growth stage. It's important to note that patients with lighter colored hair may need more treatments than patients with darker hair to achieve long-lasting hair reduction. Patients will see hair reduction/removal results at different rates depending on their combination of skin type and hair color. If using recent laser hair removal technology, every patient will be able to achieve their desired hair removal goals.
Learn More About the History and Future of Laser Hair Removal!
Laser hair removal is easily one of the most requested aesthetic procedures, and it's no surprise that practitioners get asked these questions by new potential patients every day. Since the treatment started making waves in the '90s, laser developers have made game-changing advancements in laser hair removal technology. If you are a laser practitioner, med spa professional, or aesthetics aficionado, click here or the image below to glimpse the history and future of laser hair removal and learn how your med spa can capitalize on this in-demand procedure with the latest technology.