Laser hair removal is the most common medical aesthetic procedure being performed in the world today, so it’s no wonder that there are always new techniques and lasers being developed. It’s a multi-billion dollar business, with the average treatment is $235 per visit (and there are always at least 6 visits required, depending on the area one is focusing on).
Interest in laser hair removal began in 1960, when the laser was invented. Lasers were being used as research tools so that experts could figure out how to perfect hair removal. Though laser hair removal research continued for years to come, the process was only approved by the FDA in 1997.
In the beginning, as with most new inventions, laser-based hair removal systems were bulky, slow and crude. The first laser functioned through a ruby-based laser with a short wavelength, which increased the risk of burns for those with darker skin. This made it impossible for these individuals to get the treatment. Today, it is said that laser hair removal is more effective for lighter skin with darker hair, but no burns will result in the process (unless due to a freak occurrence. Anything’s possible!)
In the 1970s, laser hair removal evolved to the use of Alexandrite in the devices, which increased the number of follicles affected and therefore made commercial use more attainable. More hair loss resulted and it took much less time, which boosted household interest.
Today, laser hair removal is safe and has a decent success rate, but this is due to our greater understanding of the process. There are some rules and requirements that must be followed when undergoing laser hair removal. Since the laser is only able to remove the hair follicle when it’s in the anagen (growth) phase. Also, at least two weeks prior to a treatment, the sun must be avoided. This is mainly because it changes skin pigment, and it is most beneficial to have an even tone for every visit.
Laser hair removal doesn’t work on gray hair at all, and the Alexandrite laser is more effective for lighter-skinned people. A new entry into the market, the long pulsed ND YAG laser, has been proven safest and most effective for people with darker skin. For all people, the treatment is not expected to last forever. In order to keep the hair off, visits are necessary in the future. It is believed that a touch up once every 6 months to a year will be effective in maintaining the desired look.
Laser hair removal is minimally painful. Some describe it as feeling like pencils poking the skin; some use an elastic snap as an analogy. The pain is very temporary due to a cryogenic spray that cools the area being zapped. As one gets more treatments, it hurts less and less, and the redness lasts a shorter time. It is recommended that patients stay out of the sun for a few days after the procedure.
Laser hair removal is, by all appearances, very safe. As of now, no research has shown the light energy from hair removal lasers to cause cancer. There are risks involved like redness, scarring and discoloration in the treated area, but nothing that will shorten one’s life.
Laser hair removal is an effective, though expensive, mode of removing hair. It is safe, easy, and relatively quick (aside from the number of visits required). The hair may not disappear forever, but it will be gone for longer than when using other modes of hair removal.