Laser hair removal

Posted on April 5th, 2010 by Michelle

Lasers can melt away your fat, cut holes in metal and effectively arm Jedi warriors, but they cannot permanently remove your body hair.

The biggest misconception about laser hair removal is that the hair won’t grow back.  It will, and it does, to the surprise of many, even though Websites like those for American Laser Centers say right on the front page: “even the most sophisticated laser hair removal treatments require multiple sessions to ensure full effectiveness.”

Maybe it’s wishful thinking: We hope the lasers will just destroy those follicles at the root like electrolysis does, eliminating those nasty little lip hairs or back hairs forever.  But unwanted body hair is possibly the only thing on this earth more stubbornly persistent (and did we mention unwanted?) than dandelions.  And all that a laser can do is make it dormant for awhile.

According to Dr. Eric Bernstein, writing for The Hair Removal Journal, pigment (melanin) in the hair absorbs the heat of the laser light and goes into a “resting phase.”  No hair is produced when the follicle is resting.  It lasts longer than waxing and most other methods of hair removal, but it doesn’t last forever.

Because lasers target melanin, they are most effective for people with light skin and dark hair.  Darker skin, which contains more melanin, can be permanently lightened by the effects of the laser.  Similarly, lasers aren’t as effective on blond and gray hair, which lacks melanin, says the Mayo Clinic.

On the upside, lasers can be used on just about any part of the body: arms, legs, face (except near the eyes), back and bikini area.  Pain has been likened to the feeling you get when you snap a rubber band against your skin.   The American Society of Plastic Surgeons estimated the average physician/surgeon cost for laser treatments in 2008 was $456, but as with all esthetic processes, that varies by region and procedure. Larger areas like the back can cost upwards of $1,000 per treatment.

And as we mentioned, the number of treatments needed vary depending on the coarseness of the hair and the area being zapped. They are spaced several weeks apart, and then will likely require some follicle follow-up every six to 12 months.

On one hand, it sounds like a lot of work to lose some whiskers. At the same time, when we finally run off to join the circus, we don’t want it to be as the bearded lady.

One Comment on “Laser hair removal”

  1. Ronna Wallace

    Are the any good over the counter hair removal products available? for facial hair? Please help before I begin to look like my husband!

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