Leaping Lasers for Unwanted Hair

Beam Me Down, Scottie

The medical procedure known as laser hair removal removes unwanted hair by sending intense beams of pulsating light through the skin. Dark pigments in the skin known as melanin are targeted by lasers. The intense heat of light beams destroys hair follicles at the moment of impact. The treatment has the added benefit of slowing hair regrowth, but several treatments are necessary to extend the hair-free period which can vary from several months to many years. Multiple treatments may lead to lasting results.

Not For Blondes

Laser treatment can be used on unwanted hair in any location of the body, though its most common applications include chin and bikini lines, armpits, legs, and upper lip. Treatment is most successful for people with dark hair and light skin, though it also works for those with darker skin. Laser hair removal is not effective for blond, light brown, light red or white hair. When performed on suitable candidates, laser hair removal reduces hair counts to anywhere from 20%-90%.

Laser hair removal should be carried out only by licensed practitioners, such as dermatologists. At the very least, there should be a medical professional on hand to supervise the procedure. This will minimize complications such as infection or bleeding.

Some of the side effects of laser hair removal are:

Darkening or lightening of the skin.

Incomplete hair removal

Hair regrowth

Blistering or scarring (rare)

Hair changes

Change in skin texture (rare)

Temporary crusting of the skin

Before you embark on laser treatment for hair removal your doctor will take your medical history, paying special attention to past and present medical conditions and any medications you might be taking.

If you are tanned, your doctor will advise you to wait until your tan has faded before beginning treatment, since a tan increases the risk of side effects such as discoloration and blistering. The rule of thumb is to avoid the sun for 4-6 weeks prior to treatment.

Shave before you go in for laser treatment since the treatment is best performed on short hair that is still visible. Do not wax, pluck, or have electrolysis for three weeks before you plan to have laser treatment.

During treatment, a cooling device or cooling gel will be used to protect your skin. You will wear goggles to prevent your eyes from being exposed to laser light. You may notice a smell of charred hair.

Follow your doctor's advice regarding aftercare.

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