Before You Go
Questions to ask your doctor:
- If I try laser hair removal am I able to treat the same spot with electrolysis at a later time?
- If I've tried hair lightening procedures in the past, like bleaching, will laser hair removal still be effective?
- Can I do anything between treatments to make future laser procedures more successful?
Pre-procedure prep for laser hair removal: Stay out of the sun at least two weeks before your laser treatment.
On the day of treatment: You may be asked to shave the area to be treated before your appointment. Avoid hair removal methods that affect follicles, like waxing, electrolysis, or plucking.
What To Expect
The laser process itself is simple. The skin is shaved on the treatment area. After the hair is shaved, an anesthetic ointment may be applied. Protective goggles are donned by both the practitioner and patient.
The handheld laser is then passed over the skin. Most machines include a cooling device that cools the skin during treatment. Laser hair removal may leave your skin red and bumpy afterward.
Who should do it: Most states have few - or no - licensing requirements for laser hair removal. There are many excellent laser hair removal practitioners without medical degrees.
But keep in mind that improper use of lasers can cause burning, scarring and pigment loss. The safest option for laser hair removal is to use a dermatologist or plastic surgeon for the procedure - that way you know your practitioner has the proper training.
Duration: A small job, like lip hair removal, should only take a few minutes. Larger areas, like the back, may take an hour or more.
How Painful Is It?
Hair follicles are surrounded by nerve endings, so laser hair removal can be painful. Removal of thick, dark hair is often more painful because darker hair attracts more laser energy. The feeling can be describe as similar to snapping a rubber band against your skin.
The Nd:YAG is said to be the most painful of the three lasers commonly used for hair removal. The treated area may still sting a day or two later, but subsequent treatments should become less painful as hair grows back lighter and sparser.
In general, laser hair removal is said to be moderately painful, with a pain level of 4 out of 10.
Options for anesthesia: No formal anesthetic is used for laser hair removal. A topical numbing cream can be applied prior to treatment.