A last-minute invitation to a pool party or floating the river sounds like fun, but are you ready to put on a swimsuit? Or is there a little hair down under and you’ll be rocking shorts and a T-shirt all day?
The choices for hair removal all seem to come with a downside: Shaving is convenient but can lead to razor burn or ingrown hairs. Even after a close shave with a fresh razor, some people notice a shadow of the hair root under their skin. On the other hand, waxing leaves the skin smooth but requires a small amount of hair to grow out first, so being beach-ready takes some advance planning.
If you find yourself creating a timetable for hair removal leading up to donning your swimsuit, there’s a better way.
“The relief of not having to worry about body hair is real for many women after laser hair removal,” said Karin Olszewski, RN, who provides laser services at Samaritan Plastic, Reconstructive & Hand Surgery in Corvallis. “It reduces the hassle of getting ready and can make it easier to be a little spontaneous and enjoy yourself.”
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
During laser hair removal, the laser targets melanin – the compound that gives hair its color – at the root of the hair under the skin and destroys the follicle so no new hair can grow. Hair follicles have three cycles, growth, regression and resting. The laser can only treat follicles where hair is present, during the growth or regression cycles. Since the resting phase can last three months or longer, multiple treatments are necessary in order to give time for follicles that may have been resting at earlier sessions to enter a growth phase.
With advanced equipment, like the GentleMax laser at Samaritan, laser hair removal is safe and effective for people with darker skin tones and on multiple areas of the body. Olszewski reported that women often choose to treat the upper lip, underarms, bikini line and legs, although any area with hair that is dark to the root can be treated. Men often treat the back, neck and shoulders.
How Long Does It Take?
Sessions can take about 10 minutes for small areas like the underarms and up to an hour for large areas like a full leg or back. You’ll need an average of six sessions, spaced six to 10 weeks apart depending on the area treated. The total series may take several months depending on how many sessions are needed.
“People notice a reduction in the amount of hair they have about two weeks after the initial treatment,” said Olszewski. “It’s really exciting at first, but then, as new follicles enter the growth phase, hair starts growing again.”
Fortunately, it’s a little less after each visit.
After three sessions the technician can gauge how well your hair is responding to the laser and discuss whether you need more sessions. Olszewski noted that different places on the body may respond differently to the laser. For example, while some people may be successfully treated by five sessions on their underarms, their facial hair may need more sessions to get rid of persistent hair.
“We recommend a range of four to six sessions because it really does depend on the person and the area, but four is the minimum for lasting results,” she said.
Some Maintenance Required
Laser hair removal can significantly reduce hair – by about 90% – but it’s not considered permanent. Your body has lots of hair follicles so there is a chance some hair could grow back over time, although it is usually finer and sparser.
It’s not unusual to come in for a maintenance session every year or two to keep new growth at bay, according to Olszewski.
“Most people are very happy with the results and the convenience of coming in occasionally for a maintenance treatment compared to routine hair removal,” said Olszewski. “It’s a great option if you are looking for a simpler way to manage unwanted body hair on a daily basis.”
In the month of April, buy one laser treatment for your underarms for $75 and get your second treatment free. Call 541-768-4370 to schedule a free consultation.
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