I was quickly shaving in the sink because I forgot I was wearing a dress that day. I had my legs up in that totally awkward sink-shaving position and my sweet girl asked me, “Mama, why are you taking off all your fur?” Ummm. Ohh. Ahh. Hmmm. Then you just laugh because, what else can you do?
Now I’m thinking that I should probably get a leg up on this. I need laser hair removal. It’s obvious. It’s urgent. I. Have. FUR.
Luckily, I have a laser at my disposal. And luckily, so do you. So without further ado, let me tell you a little bit about laser hair removal (a.k.a. laser fur removal).
First and foremost, What does “LASER” mean?
Did you know the word “LASER” is an acronym? (I didn’t.) It means:
The term “radiation” is often misinterpreted because it’s also used to describe radioactive materials or ionizing radiation. This context, however, refers to an energy transfer. Energy moves from one location to another by conduction, convection, and radiation, and cannot alter DNA structure.
How does it work?
Basically, lasers cause localized damage to the hair by selectively heating dark target matter (melanin) in the area that causes hair growth (the follicle), while not heating the rest of the skin.
How many treatments are needed?
Hair grows in several phases (anagen, telogen, catagen) and a laser can only affect the currently active growing hair follicles (anagen). This is why several sessions are needed to kill hair in all phases of growth.
The number of sessions depends on the area of the body being treated, skin color, coarseness of hair, reason for hirsutism, gender, and other factors. The average number of treatments are:
6-10 treatments every 4-6 weeks for facial hair
4-6 treatments every 8-12 weeks for body hair
Can all hair colors be treated?
No. Laser does not work well on light-colored hair, red hair (Sorry, Carrot Top!), grey hair, white hair, as well as fine hair of any color, such as vellus.
Coarse dark hair on light skin is easiest to treat (ideal candidate: Snow White… or the guy below will do).
What are the most common side-effects and risks?
During treatment: discomfort.
Post treatment (most common): itching, redness, and swelling (perifollicular edema) around the treatment area. These side effects rarely last more than three days.
Unwanted side effects and risks: hypo- or hyper-pigmentation, blistering, scarring, skin texture changes, flare of acne, swelling around the hair follicle, scab formation, purpura, infection and burning of the skin.
What areas can be treated?
If it grows hair, then yes, it can be treated (as long as there aren’t any underlying contraindications).
What are the contraindications?
In other words, if you have any of these conditions or are taking any of the medications listed, you CANNOT be treated:
- Gold Therapy (If you don’t know what this is, then you have never had it)
- Light induced seizures
- Anyone taking photo-sensitive meds (if you are, then you need to wait 3 weeks)
- Accutane (need to be off for 6 months)
- History of skin cancer
- Suspicious pigmented lesions
- Herpes (pre-treat with an antiviral drug such as Valtrex… But, if active, cannot be treated until dormant again)
How do I prepare for laser hair removal?
- No waxing, tweezing, or electrolysis for 4 weeks prior.
- If you have fair skin (skin types I -III), no sun exposure for at least 4 weeks.
- If you have darker skin (types IV – VI), no sun for 3-5 days.
- No threading for 10 days
- No self-tanner for 14 days
- Shave the area being treated the same day or the night before
- No make-up, lotion or deodorant should be worn on the day of your treatment
- No topical Retin-A for 3-5 days
- No oral Retin-A for 3 weeks
- No Accutane for 6 months
Are there any post-treatment instructions?
Yes! Please follow them strictly.
- No sun exposure for 1 week (If blistered or burned, then stay out of the sun until healed… unless you want to scar.)
- Apply cool compresses to red or swollen area.
- No Retin A for 24 hours
- No direct heat for 24 hours (ie: hot showers.. This is a tough one for me, since I truly love mine, but I do follow this religiously. I have learned the hard way! Hehehe.)
- It will look and feel like a sunburn… treat it like one!
- Lastly, enjoy being HAIR-FREE!