A few years ago I had laser hair removal, and I swear it changed my beauty upkeep completely. I went from shaving every day and still feeling like a Wookie to shaving at most once a week, and that was because I wanted to be completely smooth.
One of the most common questions I am asked about laser hair removal is: “Does it really work?”
Although there are some exceptions, permanent hair removal is possible! There are two types of permanent hair removal we do at my practice: laser hair removal, and electrolysis. Today I’ll explain how they work, what areas of the body can be treated, what the treatment feels like, and the cost.
Laser hair removal
Laser hair removal (LHR) is what most people think of when they talk about permanent hair removal. It can be done on most areas of the body, including the legs, arms, underarm, back, upper lip, and cheeks. LHR applies energy either with a laser or a broadband light device to permanently damage the hair follicle. So the hair isn’t actually gone, but it’s so fine and thin you can’t really see it, like the hairs on your cheek.
Hair growth can change with hormones, so you may see increased hair growth with puberty, pregnancy, or menopause. In those instances you might benefit from additional treatments.
Is Laser hair removal expensive?
The hair on your body grows in cycles, and LHR only affects the hairs that are actively growing. For that reason LHR removal is usually sold in a package of treatments that are spread out several weeks. Depending on the body area, you will need 6-12 treatments to get a good result. As examples, a complete treatment package of LHR on the legs is usually around $1500-2000, or $750-1000 to treat the underarms.
Does laser hair removal hurt?
I’m not gonna lie; LHR is a little uncomfortable. It feels like a flash of heat or maybe a sting, and some areas, like the upper lip and the axilla (armpit) are particularly sensitive. Fortunately the more sensitive areas are smaller, meaning the treatment is fairly quick. My office also applies numbing cream to the more sensitive areas to help with discomfort. And we have a fan that blows super-cooled air during the treatment; this helps quite a bit as well.
Does laser hair removal work on any hair type?
The laser targets the pigment in the hair follicle, so LHR works best on darker hair. Blonde and light red hair don’t have very much pigment, so more laser treatments may be needed. And gray hair has literally no pigment, so LHR does not work on gray hair at all.
LHR can be safely done on all skin types.
What if I have gray hair?
As I mentioned above, gray hair has no pigment, so there isn’t anything for the laser to target. But don’t worry- there is another option to permanently remove even gray hair!
Electrolysis uses an electrical current to destroy the hair follicle. A very tiny needle is inserted into the base of the hair follicle to apply the current, and the hair is then removed with tweezers. The downside is that electrolysis only removes one hair at a time, so it’s too time intensive to treat large areas. But it’s still a great option for those little gray hairs on the chin!
Electrolysis is also a fantastic option for treatment the eyebrows. The hairs over the eyebrow really vary in their growth cycles, meaning it takes a ridiculous number of laser treatments to effectively reduce the hair. Since it’s a small area, electrolysis is a better option.