How Permanent Is Laser Hair Removal?

by | Dec 2, 2021

Every freaking day, when you look at your hairy legs, you wish like hell for a total bailout. Regardless of knowing laser hair removal is by far the most permanent solution, you hesitated to give it a try for some reasons. First, you are somewhat concerned about the pain. Then, it the most expensive hair removal procedure so far. Moreover, you wonder how permanent is laser hair removal, anyways? Because, if it’s going to cost, you don’t want to see hair ever again.

How does laser hair removal work?

bikini laser hair removal girl on beach

The laser uses pulses of light to burn your hairs down to their root. The melanin, aka. dark pigment, in the hair follicle allows the laser to find its target. The laser beams convey thermal energy that heats up and burns out hair roots. Thus, the laser destroys the hair follicle without damaging the surrounding skin structures. The popularity of laser is on the rise because it is a minimal-invasive procedure.

How does laser hair removal feel like?

The tech of surgical laser has been around since the 1970s. Its application on hair removal began in the mid’90s and has advanced a lot since then. The lasers used in a beauty clinic have many settings for various skin and hair types. Many lasers and intense pulsed light (IPL) devices have improved safety and effectiveness. Well-trained laser experts performed millions of hair removal services every year. The best laser for you depends on factors like skin tone, hair color, tattoos, medication, and so on.

But you need to know that pregnant women shouldn’t undertake laser procedure. And antibiotics make your skin sensitive to light and may cause burns. Moreover, you should not use retinoids before laser treatment. If you are in the middle of a period, you should reschedule to avoid the risk of extra pain.

The laser technology nowadays allows it to work well on people with darker skin tones. For example, IPL devices cannon remove hair on African descendent. But now, the Nd:YAG laser that operates at a longer wavelength are effective on darker skins. Whereas, the alexandrite laser that emits shorter wavelength works well on lighter skins.

Is laser hair removal for me?

laser hair removal girl near ocean

Yet laser hair removal is not for everybody. That is because the laser relies on the contrast between skin and hair for targeting. In other words, laser treatment on people with hair that’s darker than their skin tone. What a bummer! In general, the amount of dark pigment on the skin surface is much less than in the hair follicle. Which means, the laser is mostly absorbed by the hair.

On your first laser treatment, you should preserve a small patch of hair on the treated area. That way, your laser expert can examine the characteristics of your hair. Which allows the expert to set the laser on an energy level that works the best on you. The density, quality and color of hair all matters to the final result. And remember to shave before your following laser sessions. Because you don’t want the laser to waste its energy burning the hair on the surface instead of on the root.

How long does the result last?

bikini hair removal girl lying on beach sand

The truth is: lasers can permanently reduce hair growth but cannot stop it from growing back. While you don’t need to go through a laser treatment all over again, you still need maintenance. Even if your hairs regrow, they will be lighter and finer. So a few touch-up treatments every year should let you stay hair-free. But the catch is: the cost of touch-ups adds up. That is why more people prefer doing laser hair removal at home. These compact laser devices are affordable and easy-to-use. Look it up on the internet!

Beyond timing, the location where you received the treatment also matters. For example, areas like the legs that grow coarse hair respond to laser treatment faster. Whereas facial laser treatment takes much longer to show some result. Moreover, factors such as hormonal levels or skin conditions also have unpredictable effects. That said, the experience of the laser expert and capability of laser are very important.

The takeaway: laser hair removal is not a one-and-done sort of deal. You can stay hair-free for years if you get it done right – before and after treatment. Also, you will need maintenance once in in while, which can be expensive in long term. But you have the option to do it by yourself using at-home laser devices.

Side effects

Dangers of side effects change with not only skin type, but also hair color, treatment plan and adherence to pre-removal preparation and post-removal recovery. The typical side effects of laser hair removal involves: pain, blistering, swelling, redness, infection, itchiness, among others. Any signs and discomfort generally went away within a day.

Laser hair removal may change the color of the treated skin. These symptoms may be impermanent or persistent. Skin changing to a lighter color most likely troubles the patients who could not stay away from sunlight pre and post-treatment as well as the patients with darker skin such as African-Americans.

On rare occasion, patients who underwent laser hair removal reported blistering, crusting, scarring or abnormal changes in skin surface. Other uncommon side effects involve turning gray of treated hair or hair overgrowth around treated regions, especially on patients with darker skin.

The freedom of expression

beach hair removal girl tying hair

We started to remove unwanted body hair about 500 hundred years ago. And if you compare it to human history, the practice of hair removal started quite recent. Even though body hair is the manifestation of gender, the public’s mindset has shifted.

Phenomenon like the internet and social media changed our preferences towards body hair. People feel a lot of freedom now. Thus, social and cultural norms have weaker influences on hair removal. They can remove unwanted hair in many ways.

Maureen Parker

Maureen Parker

Staff Writer

Maureen loves sweets! A medical science graduate of Johns Hopkins. Co-author of the book Magical Deserts in Foreign Lands. Free-lance photographer for the New York Times.

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