Laser hair removal is a medical procedure that uses a pulsating light that passes through the skin to individual hair follicles.
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
The technology of laser hair removal has vastly improved over time, allowing for greater skin protection and better results.
Laser hair removal works by precisely directing a laser at hair follicles. The laser’s light is absorbed by the darker pigment in the hair follicles, destroying the follicles and preventing future growth.
Laser hair removal works best for people with lighter skin and darker hair. The laser targets the pigment in the dark hair follicles, leaving the lighter skin undamaged. While there have been advances in technology that have sought to make lasers work with darker skin tones and lighter hair colors, the procedure still works best for those with light skin and dark hair. Because grey, white, red, and blonde hair lacks dark pigmentation, they generally are not successfully eliminated through laser hair removal.
At your consultation, a certified Virginia laser hair removal specialist will review your medical history and medications. At this point he or she will be able to determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure. During this meeting you will also discuss the benefits, risks, and your personal expectations. The specialist will share what he or she feels laser hair removal could actually accomplish. It is common to take photos at this appointment to be used for before and after assessment.
There are several considerations to make while preparing for a laser hair removal treatment. First, you want to stay out of the sun and limit exposure for up to six weeks. Tanned or sun exposed skin does not respond as well to the laser treatment and can even cause complications. In Northern Virginia, our practice is located, clients tend to avoid laser hair removal in the hot summer months. Secondly, you should not wax, tweeze, thread, or use electrolysis for at least six weeks before your procedure. These processes damage or temporarily remove the hair follicle – which can then not be treated by the laser. Shaving is perfectly acceptable, as it does not damage or affect the hair follicle.
Laser hair removal is most commonly an outpatient procedure that is performed at Nova Plastic Surgery and Medspa. The area of treatment will be prepped and cleaned with alcohol, and possibly numbed, prior to the procedure. Everyone in the room will need to wear protective goggles. The technician will set up the laser and find the correct energy level for your specific skin tone and tolerance. The time of the procedure varies depending on the size of the area being treated. It can range from several minutes to nearly an hour for larger areas, like legs.
The recovery process for laser hair removal is usually very quick. An outpatient procedure, many are able to resume their normal activities directly after receiving treatment. Right after the procedure it is common to experience redness or slight swelling in affected areas. These side effects should dissipate within a few hours. Any discomfort can be treated with cold compresses, lotions, or over the counter medicines. More severe reaction can be blisters or crusting of the skin, but these often clear quickly. The skin is ready for an additional treatment after six to eight weeks.
Laser hair removal is often a process of six to eight treatments. All the treatments are required to achieve an 80-90% reduction in hair regrowth. However, initial results can be seen as soon as after the first treatment. You will experience less re-growth, which will be finer and lighter. Skin will smooth with the elimination of hair bumps or ingrown hairs. Laser hair removal often requires touch up sessions, though they are needed at greatly spaced intervals.
Like any medical procedure, there are risks associated with laser hair removal. The most common side effect or risk is minor swelling and skin irritation. This usually clears within a few hours after the treatment and can be treated with cold compresses or over the counter pain medications. Very rarely the laser can cause more serious skin irritations, blistering, or changes in the skin texture. It is also possible for the laser to change the pigment of the skin in the affected area. This side effect is usually temporary, and more likely to happen for those with darker skin tones. Pigmentation changes can also occur if the wrong laser is used at an incorrect setting. The education and skill of the doctor or technician is crucial for successful laser hair removal. With NOVA Plastic Surgery, you are guaranteed the most current technology and highest level of skill for laser hair removal treatments in Alexandria, Arlington, Ashburn, Fairfax, Leesburg, Mclean, and Vienna, VA.
Proudly serving areas in Alexandria, Arlington, Ashburn, Fairfax, Leesburg, Mclean, and Vienna, Virginia, NOVA Plastic Surgery is a leader in laser hair removal, and a proven choice. If you would like to schedule a laser hair removal appointment at one of our Northern Virginia offices, or if you have questions for our plastic surgeon, please call the office at (703) 574-2588.