According to the 2016 annual report published by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, over 1 million men and women received laser hair removal treatment in the U.S. in 2015. So if you’re considering LHR, you’re certainly not alone. And although it’s a common procedure that continues to gain popularity, there are a few things you may want to know about LHR before deciding if it’s right for you.
1. LHR Targets Growing Hair
Laser hair removal seems like a pretty simple process, but there’s actually a lot of science behind its technology. The innovative treatment works by directing pulses of light to the area to be treated, which are absorbed by the hair follicles. The heat from the laser prevents the follicle from regrowing new hair. But to be targeted by the laser, the hair needs to be in its active growth stage. This is why it’s recommended that you shave the area to be treated prior to coming in for your appointment.
2. LHR Can Be Used on Any Body Part
Although the legs, bikini line and underarm areas may be some of the most common places where people choose to get laser hair removal, the procedure can be safe and effective on any part of the body. In fact, many men opt for LHR treatment for their chest or back, which can really end up saving a lot of grooming time.
3. LHR Is Most Effective on Dark Hair
It’s actually the melanin in the hair follicle that absorbs the pulses of light during laser hair removal, so it’s most effective on darker hair and lighter skin. This creates enough of a contrast that the laser can target the dark hair follicle and not the skin. Improvements in technology, however, have now made it possible for those with darker skin to receive safe and effective LHR treatment as well.
4. Expect Multiple Treatment Sessions
Because LHR targets only the actively growing hairs, you should expect to go in for a series of treatment sessions over the course of a few months for best results. Although each individual session may only last up to 20 minutes, it may take between 8 and 9 sessions, each spaced from 4 to 6 weeks apart on the face to 8 to 10 weeks on the body, to achieve your final results. You will, however, start to notice subtle results after each treatment session.
5. Shave, Don’t Wax
While your laser hair removal specialist will most likely ask you to shave right before you come in for each session, you definitely don’t want to wax or pluck the area to be treated. Waxing and plucking temporarily remove the entire hair, leaving nothing for the laser to target. In between sessions, it’s best to continue shaving. If you have to wax or pluck, just make sure that you leave enough time for the hair to grow back before your next session.
6. Sun Protection Is a Must
Throughout the course of your LHR treatments, including in between sessions, you’ll want to pay close attention to limiting your sun exposure, as UV rays can cause complications in the laser hair removal process. You should plan to stay out of the sun and tanning beds for about 6 weeks prior to your first treatment and 6 weeks after your final session.
7. Some Future Touchups May Be Necessary
Although laser hair removal significantly reduces or eliminates the appearance of hair in the treated area, you may want to have a maintenance session in the future. This can depend on the thickness and darkness of your hair, so check with your specialist about your specific needs.
Caroll Delo is a board certified laser technician at Simply Smooth Laser Center in Tampa, a niche practice that focuses specifically on laser treatments. Simply Smooth Laser Center offers the most advanced options in laser hair removal, laser skin rejuvenation and laser tattoo removal.