Whether you’re the first one into the river every summer or you prefer to lounge poolside with a book, laser hair removal is a treatment that can get you there faster.
Laser hair removal uses a targeted beam to deliver energy to the hair follicle. The colored pigment in the follicle absorbs the energy, heats up and is destroyed, preventing future hair growth. Unlike waxing, which pulls hair out by the roots but does not destroy the follicle, laser hair removal is extremely effective long term.
“Patients will see up to 90 percent reduction in hair growth after completing a treatment series,” said Karin Olszewski, RN, who provides aesthetic services including laser hair removal at Samaritan Plastic, Reconstructive & Hand Surgery. “Hair is considerably reduced after each treatment, but hair can be very persistent.”
Hair naturally goes through the stages of resting, growing or shriveling. In the resting phase, which can last three months or longer, there is no hair growing from the follicle which makes it impossible to treat. To ensure the best possible results, four to six treatments are usually recommended over the space of several months in order to make sure all the hair in an area is treated, including the follicles that might be resting during an earlier treatment.
“With correct treatment, the growth cells in the follicle are destroyed and hair cannot grow back,” said Olszewski. “But your skin and hair type, genetics, and the experience of the person administering the laser can all affect your outcomes. We can’t say that laser hair removal is completely permanent, but it is significant.”
According to Olszewski, treating dark hair gives the best results, but the laser is adjusted according to the tone of your skin and the hair being treated, which is why an experienced technician is important.
Common areas to treat for women include the legs, bikini line, underarms and face. Men are also good candidates for the procedure and often have treatments on the back, neck, shoulders and chest. The time for treatment varies based on the size of the area, but a woman’s upper lip may take as little as 15 minutes while a full leg or the back may take an hour.
If hair regrows after a year or two, Olszewski reports that it is much less in terms of volume and the area can often be retreated with good results.
“Compared to the expense of waxing or the hassle of shaving, people are very happy with laser hair removal,” said Olszewski. “I hear all the time, ‘why didn’t I do this sooner?’”