Laser hair removal is one of the most popular methods used to reduce or remove hair, but the pain commonly associated with the procedure may be off-putting for some. Using a numbing cream like Emla before undergoing laser hair removal can help reduce the pain.
Laser hair removal is a method of hair removal in which a laser (a concentrated beam of light) is used to remove unwanted hair. Laser hair removal uses light to target the pigment in individual hairs. The light travels down the shaft of the hair and into the hair follicle.
The heat from the laser light destroys the hair follicle, and a hair can no longer grow from it.
Hair follows a unique growth cycle that involves resting, shedding, and growing periods. Recently removed hair that is in a resting phase will not be visible to the technician or laser, so a person may need to wait until it regrows before removing it.
Hair removal from a destroyed hair follicle is permanent. However, people who undergo hair removal can expect that some hair in the targeted area will grow back.
Over time, it is possible to treat the area again to reduce the number of hairs that regrow. In some cases, it may even be possible to eliminate all hair.
Whether or not hair grows back depends on numerous factors, including the type of hair that regrows and the skill of the person removing the hair.
Most people find that when hair regrows, it is lighter and less noticeable than it was before. This is because the laser may damage the hair follicle even when it fails to destroy it.
If a hair follicle is damaged but not destroyed, the hair will eventually regrow. It can be difficult to destroy every single hair follicle, so most people will see some hair regrowth.
When hair regrows, it is possible to treat it again, so people who want to remove all the hair may need several treatments.
In some cases, hair may be too light, too short, or resistant to treatment. In these cases, a person might choose to use other hair removal methods, such as plucking stray hairs.
Is laser hair removal painful?
There can be a large variation in the level of pain and discomfort experienced during laser hair removal. How much pain you feel may depend on which part of your body is being treated – the more sensitive the skin the more discomfort you are likely to feel. The underarms, bikini line and the skin around your lips, for example, tend to be more sensitive and so potentially more painful than other areas such as the legs. Laser removal of hairs on your back can also be painful because of the large number of hairs being removed.
Numbing the skin with a local anaesthetic before starting your laser treatment can help minimise any pain or discomfort you may feel.
One technique that is sometimes used before laser hair removal is occlusion. This refers to the method of applying a numbing cream, then covering the area with plastic wrap. While this does increase the numbing effects it also increases the chances for adverse effects. Occlusion increases the amount of anesthetic that gets absorbed systemically which can lead to increased heart rate, dizziness, and nausea. BLT numbing cream is the best numbing cream for laser hair removal because it is a powerful combination of anesthetics. In general, BLT cream should only be applied by a skilled professional in their office – not at home by the individual before their treatment.
The Best Numbing Cream for Laser Hair Removal
Not everyone who gets laser hair removal finds it painful. Most individuals find it to be less painful than waxing. The sensation is sometimes equated to a “snapping” like a rubber band. Others say that the treatments are more painful than that and experience a burning, stinging sensation. The laser is working by generating heat to destroy the hair follicle. For those that are more sensitive it can be painful enough that a low-strength numbing cream is not effective. A higher-strength BLT cream is the best numbing cream for laser hair removal.
A triple anesthetic cream, also called BLT cream, includes benzocaine, lidocaine, and tetracaine. There is no commercially available formulation that contains these three anesthetics together. The higher-strength combination creams need to be obtained from a compounding pharmacy that specializes in anesthetic formulations. The most common formulation is a cream with benzocaine 20%, lidocaine 6%, and tetracaine 4%.