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Laser Hair Removal: A Comprehensive Guide on Procedure, Post-Treatment Care, and Maintenance

No one wants to spend all day shaving or plucking out their unwanted hair. Whether waxing is too painful for you or you just want to spend less time worrying about hair removal, it's time to consider one of the safest methods available: laser hair removal.

Let's take a look at how this innovative treatment works and what you need to know to get started with this guide on laser hair removal.

How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?

Although it may sound like something out of a science fiction movie, laser hair removal is actually pretty easy to understand, at least in theory. Instead of using a sharp blade (i.e. a razor) that leaves behind bumps or a pair of tweezers to remove hairs, this method of hair removal relies on an amplified beam of light (i.e. a laser) to reduce your unwanted body hairs in a safe and non-invasive fashion.

Hair is especially vulnerable to light and small amounts of heat at the earliest phase of human hair growth, called the anagen phase. The laser hair removal procedure takes advantage of this unique period.

Specifically, laser hair removal treatment uses laser energy from pulsing light to affect the hair follicles that cause growth. A concentrated beam of light in laser form turns into heat energy. This heat is harmless to your body as a whole, but at the micro level, it can successfully damage your unwanted hair follicle. This in turn blocks future growth of hair from that specific region of the body.

While laser hair removal isn't guaranteed to destroy a hair follicle for good, the treatment can be an effective hair removal solution for decreasing unwanted future hair growth for long periods of time. A trained dermatological expert or another licensed medical professional can use laser treatment to remove hair from all over your body and leave smooth skin behind. This includes your face, bikini areas, armpits, and more!

How to Prepare in the Weeks Leading Up to Your Appointment

First off, you should make sure that you are a suitable candidate for laser hair removal treatment. The effectiveness of a laser light-based cosmetic procedure could vary depending on your individual skin tone and skin pigmentation.

For example, light-colored hair (e.g. blond hairs) is the most difficult to treat with the laser hair removal method because its pigmentation is less capable of absorbing the laser light that is used to reduce growth in the hair follicles.

On the other side of the spectrum, patients with darker hair (e.g. jet-black or dark brown) are ideal candidates for laser hair removal treatment, since dark hair's higher level of pigmentation means much more of the laser light can be absorbed.

Light brown hair and even darker shades of blond may fall into the category of "medium hair," which is more treatable than lighter hair but still less able to absorb laser light than the darkest shades of hair color.

Hair type also plays a role. Thick, coarse hair tends to respond better to laser light treatment than finer or thinner hair does.

Apart from hair color and thickness, skin tone can also affect how well laser hair removal works for you. Sensitive skin that burns easily without tanning much (e.g. Caucasians with light skin) may be able to get by with fewer overall treatment sessions.

On the other hand, people with darker skin tones who tan well and rarely get sunburned (e.g. many Hispanic or African-Americans) may require more treatment to see the results they want.

For all these reasons, it's vital that you consult a dermatological expert in order to decide the best laser treatment for your skin and hair type. By having a laser hair removal consultation with a medical expert before making an appointment, you can make sure you get the most bang for your buck by receiving the right form of hair removal for your needs.

What to Know Before Your First Appointment

After you've consulted with a dermatological expert and blocked out a date on the calendar for your first laser hair removal appointment, you'll need to follow some basic steps as part of the laser hair removal preparation process.

For example, your medical professional will discuss whether any of the prescription or over-the-counter medications you may currently be taking can increase your body's photosensitivity.

Any medicines that could potentially increase your sensitivity to light, such as antihistamines and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen), will need to be stopped for at least a week before your first appointment. The same goes for any medications that potentially heighten your chances of bleeding, including blood thinners and aspirin.

Apart from following the advice of your dermatological expert, you should also avoid any form of tanning or other major sun exposure for at least two weeks prior to your first treatment session. The reason for this is that too much sun exposure immediately before your session could increase your skin's sensitivity and leave it open to damage.

As the appointment draws closer, you'll want to avoid any of your usual methods of hair removal procedures (e.g. plucking or waxing), except for shaving. You'll actually want to shave the area you want to be treated with the laser light on the morning of your appointment.

Finally, stop using any depilatory creams (i.e. chemically based hair removal products in cream form) for 3-4 weeks before your appointment, and avoid putting any deodorant or skincare products (such as lotions or creams) on your desired treatment area on the day of your laser hair removal appointment.

By following these simple steps, you'll be giving yourself the best chance for success with your laser light treatment.

How Long Does Laser Hair Removal Take?

many modern-day laser hair removal devices and tools have built-in cooling systems that provide maximum comfort and minimal pain for patients. Patients who do undergo the procedure without any localized or topical anesthesia often describe it as a mild pain that is no worse than having a rubber band lightly snapped against their arm.

Regarding how long it takes to undergo the laser hair removal process, the answer is similar to that of many other beauty care and dermatological treatment questions: it depends.

Specifically, the amount of time that your appointment takes will vary depending on your individual needs. The biggest factor that determines how long your laser hair removal session will take is the overall size of the skin area that you want to have treated.

For instance, if you just have a small amount of peach fuzz on your upper lip or other facial hair that you want to have removed, you could be in and out in about 10 minutes.. On the other hand, if you're receiving laser hair removal treatment for your entire back or another large area of the body such as both arms or legs, your session could take up to an hour.

With all that being said, an average laser hair removal session will take about half an hour, How to Take Care of Your Skin After Treatment

It's just as important to treat your skin right after your laser hair removal treatment as it was to take care of your skin in the weeks leading up to the appointment. This will protect your skin from potential damage and maximize your comfort following your beauty procedure.

Within the first few hours after laser hair treatment, you may experience varying degrees of bumpiness, redness, or other forms of skin discomfort. If your skin is on the more delicate end of the spectrum, the heightened sensitivity created by the laser treatment could last for up to 48 hours.

While this discomfort is certainly unpleasant, it can often be handled by applying a simple ice pack or cold compress to whichever part of your skin is feeling irritated. Depending on how long-lasting the bumpiness is, you can ask your medical professional for a list of approved after-sun treatments that could help your sensitive skin.

On that note, you should avoid high levels of sun exposure and tanning in the first two weeks immediately following your appointment. Be sure to protect your skin, which has been made temporarily more sensitive to sun damage, through the use of high-quality, broad-spectrum sunscreen rated at SPF 30 or higher. Do this even when you're going outside on rainy or cloudy days.

Similarly, you should opt for cold water showers and baths for the first day following your treatment. Avoid hot water, including in the form of hot baths and saunas.

Apart from protecting your skin from sun damage or irritation related to heat, you can also take care of yourself by resisting the urge to scratch, rub, or otherwise pick at the area of skin that was treated with the laser light. In fact, you should keep any touching of the treated area to an absolute minimum.

You should also avoid any dermatological or cosmetic products that could further irritate your skin within the first couple of days after your treatment. This includes exfoliating scrubs and cosmetic products that contain perfume and other fragrances.

How Long Does Your Laser Hair Removal Last?

For almost everyone, a single laser hair removal treatment at our clinic in Fargo won't cut it. The reason is simple: while hair follicles are vulnerable to light energy in the earliest stages of growth, any hair roots that have reached the second and third growth stages are essentially invulnerable to damage from laser light.

If every hair follicle reached the same growth stage simultaneously, it might hypothetically be possible to take all of them out in a single laser light treatment session. However, only about one-fifth of the hair follicles covering a given section of your body are likely to be at the earliest stage of growth at any given time.

In other ways, a single laser hair removal treatment can reduce a significant portion of your hair, but it won't be even close to a majority. To achieve that result, you'll need to have a series of multiple sessions spaced at least 4-6 weeks apart.

This gives your skin time to heal and increases the chances that different follicles will be at the first stage of growth at the time of your next session. A dermatological expert will be able to discuss the ideal number of sessions and intervals between sessions for your unique skin and hair profile.

Once you've gone through the first series of laser hair removal sessions, you and your medical professional will be able to assess how effective the initial treatment was at reducing your unwanted peach fuzz and other hair.

If you are satisfied with your results, you can schedule ongoing "touch-up" sessions to treat any leftover follicles that escaped the laser light during your first series of appointments. Touch-ups may be spaced several months apart.

Many people see phenomenal long-term hair reduction following laser treatment, and modern laser hair removal systems may be the closest thing we have to a permanent solution for unwanted hair. Still, there is the possibility that changes in hormones or previously dormant hair follicles "waking up" could cause new hair to crop up in a treated area.

Are There Any Risks with Laser Hair Removal?

As we mentioned before, laser light treatment for hair removal is a safe and non-invasive way to take care of unwanted hairs. There have been no studies that have concluded any long-term health risks associated with this hair reduction solution. Plus, many patients consider it a pain-free alternative to other hair removal treatments!

Of course, any treatment comes with some side effects, however minor. As discussed in the after-treatment section of this guide, you may experience some redness or irritation immediately following your treatment appointment, and your skin will be more sensitive to irritants and sun damage for a few weeks.

If you're worried about potential side effects, you can have a patch test done. An experienced laser hair clinician can treat a small area of your skin to see how it responds to the laser light. This will ensure you don't experience any unexpected reactions during treatment of a larger area of the body.

Contact Altaire Clinic Today to Schedule a Consult

Are you tired of plucking out or waxing pesky hairs in unwanted places? If you're looking for a safe, non-invasive hair removal treatment that will leave you smiling, you need to talk to the team of dermatological experts at Altaire Clinic.

Our cosmetic and dermatological team members are happy to provide the skin and acne treatments you need for lifelong skin health and beauty. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with an experienced medical professional.

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We encourage you to book a consultation, so one of our providers can personally discuss your needs and recommend the procedures best suited to your lifestyle. Contact us by phone or use the convenient form below so you can reach your ultimate health, wellness, & beauty goals.