How Laser Hair Removal Works
Laser hair removal works on the principle of selective photothermolysis - the laser precisely targets the pigment in the hair follicle and delivers just the right amount of energy to disable the follicle without harming surrounding tissue.
Pure grey, blonde and some types of red hair do not contain enough pigment to provide the laser a sufficient “target”. Because there’s more pigment in coarser, darker hair, it typically responds the best to laser hair removal.
The growth cycle of a hair consists of three phases, and the laser is most effective during only one of those phases - this is the reason several treatments are required, scheduled 4-8 weeks apart. Everyone responds differently, but generally people feel satisfied with the amount of hair reduction after six treatments. The underarms typically respond quickly, while facial and bikini hair is more hormonally driven and so can require touch ups. On average, people experience about an 80% reduction in hair, with the remaining hair being finer. New hair growth or hair regrowth is dependent upon many variables including hormonal fluctuations, which occur throughout life.
Prior to treatment, the area must be shaved and thoroughly cleansed. It is recommended to shave the area to be treated 12-24 hours before laser hair removal. It is okay to shave immediately prior to treatment, though it may make skin more sensitive.
During the treatment, the nurse will apply ultrasound gel to the area to be treated and then place the laser handpiece directly on top of the gel and glide the laser along the treatment area. The tip of the handpiece is chilled both to protect the epidermis and increase client comfort. Generally the treatments feel warm and tingle like a rubber band snapped against your skin. Not the most pleasent feeling; however it's much less painful than plucking or waxing.
During the treatment, the nurse will be constantly evaluating your skin response. Possible reactions include mild to moderate redness and small red bumps, which are the result of individual hair follicles swelling slightly because they were effectively targeted by the laser. Typically the redness and/or bumps resolve within an hour or so. Occasionally the bumps can persist for 1-2 days. Not everyone develops redness or bumps.
One of the keys to successful long-term laser hair removal is communication between the nurse and client. Even though discomfort tolerance varies from person to person, it is still a helpful indicator of effective treatment. By monitoring tissue reaction and client report of comfort/discomfort, the nurse is able to expertly customize the laser treatments to each individual client.
The first session is usually the most uncomfortable because there is the greatest amount of hair. As the treatments progress, the total amount of hair will decrease, as will the diameter of remaining follicles, and this reduction in pigmentary target decreases discomfort.
After each treatment, we’ll provide you with an aftercare instruction sheet, reminding you to protect the treated area from sun exposure as much as possible, treat the area gently for the next few days and not pluck, tweeze, epilate or wax between laser treatments. This removes the laser’s pigment target. Shaving is fine.