There are so many misconceptions about laser hair removal circulating around that the treatment may feel a bit intimidating. If you are coming in for your first session, you will want to know what to expect during laser hair removal. Who wouldn’t?! This blog post will tell you everything you need to know before you come in for your first laser hair removal session!
You need to shave before each session
Shaving before a laser hair removal session is crucial to ensure the safety and efficiency of the treatment. We know that it may seem counterintuitive however. Indeed, shaving cuts the hair flat at the surface of the skin. Not only does it not contribute to hair growth reduction, but the hair will look thicker and darker upon regrowth. Shaving is also believed to stimulate hair growth.
However, it is important that patients come in clean-shaven for their session. That way, the energy emitted by the laser gun will get to the hair follicle faster without losing much energy during its journey. A long hair means a longer journey and therefore more energy lost. This will reduce the efficiency of the treatment.
Furthermore, when the hair is not shaved, the pulse will heat the whole hair. This can increase the risks of burning and scarring. Thus, the laser treatment would not be as safe. Make sure you shave at least three hours before your session (or even the night before). Indeed, you need to give your skin a bit of time to recover after shaving.
The treatment is not painful
One big misconception about laser hair removal is that it is a painful treatment. To start with, pain is an objective concept. The sensation of pain will vary from one individual to another, based on their tolerance to pain. Second, the sensation felt during laser hair removal cannot really be described as painful.
Indeed, it is quite akin to pinching or a rubber band snapping at the skin very fast. There will also be heat. The pinching and heat can be adjusted to each patient so it is important to communicate to the laser technician whether both are too strong.
Laser hair removal is not painful. The sensation is unpleasant, sure, but it is more than tolerable. If you compare it to waxing, it is nothing, especially in the bikini area. One reason to undergo laser hair removal is to never have to wax again and go through that pain.
Different skin tones need different wavelengths
Laser hair removal works on all skin tones and hair color. This is true if the right laser machine is used during the session based on the client’s skin color. Indeed, laser hair removal picks up pigments in the hair. Thus, it needs a sharp hair-to-skin contrast to make sure the hair and not the skin is targeted.
People with dark skin and dark hair offer a very low contrast. On the other hand, people with light skin and fair hair will not have enough pigments in their hair. The laser may not be able to pick up the hair. However, that does not mean there is not a solution for both. The treatment will not work on grey or white hair at all however.
Dark skins will need a ND:YAG or a diode laser for their treatment. Indeed, both use a 1064nm wavelength that bypasses the epidermis without relying too much on melanin to do so. Thus, the lack of contrast does not matter that much anymore. Diode and alexandrite lasers have a 755nm wavelength that picks up fair hair.
Sessions can be very short
A laser hair removal session does not have to be long. The duration will depend on the size of the area(s) treated as well as their number. For example, a session of both underarms will not last more than ten minutes. On the other hand, a session for the lower legs will take up to twenty-five minutes.
Small areas will take up to fifteen minutes while large areas will take up to forty-five minutes. A combination of areas will make a session longer. Yet, at the same time, because all the areas will be done at once, you will also save time on your appointment. A session of full body laser hair removal may take up to two hours.
If you think about it, it includes so many body areas that it saves you a lot of time if you indeed have to come for each of those areas individually. To compare with waxing, when the full legs, full Brazilian, upper lip and underarms will take up to 90 minutes, the same treatment with laser hair removal will not take more than an hour.
You may experience redness afterwards
Laser hair removal sends light energy against the skin to target the hair and damage the hair follicle. The amount of light is quite a lot and will leave the skin sensitive. This is why it is so important to protect your skin against the sun. Avoid direct sunlight and apply sunscreen.
If you naturally have a very sensitive skin, you may experience some redness on the treated areas. This is normal and it will fade within two hours after your session. To make recovery fast, you can apply aloe vera gel on the skin. Avoid working out and hot showers, as they may irritate the skin.
The hair starts shedding a week after
Laser hair removal requires patience. You will not see your hair drop the next day. This is mostly because you shaved just before your session. Even after the hair follicle has been damaged, the hair that was in there needs to be pushed out. Thus, it will look like it is growing as normal while it is trying to leave the follicle.
This may take some time, like when a normal hair grows. Thus, a week or so after your secession, it may look like the hair is growing back. This won’t be the case for the hair that was effectively targeted and treated during your session. Since it is just being pushed out and not actually growing, it will end up falling.
Remember that laser hair removal can only target up to 20% of hair during a session. This is because the treatment only works on hair that is in the anagen phase of growth. Unfortunately, only 20% of all body hair is in this stage at any point in time. Thus, while some hair will indeed grow back because they would not have been treated, 20% will just shed.
You will see results early on
Laser hair removal is a treatment that requires patience. Indeed, you will need at least six sessions before you see satisfactory results. However, you will still start to see results early on. This is because each session will treat 20% of body hair. Thus, you will see significant hair growth reduction after each session.
However, it is possible that some hair may never be in the right stage of growth during your treatment. Or that some hair follicle will need more than one session to be permanently damaged. Thus, you may need additional sessions and a longer treatment.
As a consequence, even though you may see early results, you will still need to be patient before you see overall results you are happy with. In general, most patients can see a 60% reduction in growth after three sessions.