what is laser hair removal and how does it work
what is laser hair removal
Laser hair removal uses laser light pulses to selectively destroy hair follicles by targeting the melanin (color) in them. The pigment in the hair follicle absorbs the laser’s light pulse, which damages the follicle enough to significantly retard hair regrowth. Because laser pulses target hair follicle melanin, people with coarse, dark hair and light skin respond best to treatment.
But dark-haired, dark-skinned individuals, as well as those with light hair and skin, can still achieve the same desired effects with the Nd:YAG laser. That’s because the Nd:YAG laser has a longer wavelength and better pigment selectivity than other lasers used for hair removal. It can more precisely penetrate hair follicles, leaving the surrounding skin tissue undamaged.
Because lasers can only target anagen, or hair follicles in the active growth stage, you should expect to undergo four to six treatments. But you won’t have to wait long to see results. A few weeks after a laser hair removal session, you’ll notice that your unwanted hair has become sparser and finer, your skin smoother, and your pores less visible.
how does laser hair removal work
Laser hair removal works by using concentrated light to affect hair follicles, which are small cavities in the skin from which hair grows. The hair follicle absorbs the laser, which is attracted to the hair’s melanin pigment, and the hair vaporizes instantly.
The pigment in the hair attracts the laser, so darker hair absorbs the laser more effectively, which is why people with dark hair and light skin are ideal candidates for laser hair removal.
Patients with dark skin typically need to be treated with a special type of laser that detects the hair against their skin.
Those with light hair make less ideal candidates, and they are also less likely to experience drastic results as the laser doesn’t focus well on nonpigmented hair. Laser hair removal is not effective on blonde, gray, or white hairs.
Electrolysis vs Laser/IPL-What's Speed Difference?
There is a large misconception that laser treatments are faster simply because more area can be treated per session vs electrolysis. However, 6-8 laser treatments spread over 6 week intervals will still take at least a year, and if you're a good candidate, you'll have upwards of 70-90% reduction. But, if you're not an ideal candidate or you're in too much of a grey area (Type 4 on the Fitzpatrick scale with light brown hair on your arms for example) then you could be doing sessions for a year, only getting 40% reduction for example and wasting a lot of your money and time and on top of that you'll have been shaving the area for laser treatments. If clients are choosing to do laser, I encourage them to watch closely the reduction received session to session. Once clients get to 6 or so sessions, I suggest switching to electrolysis. This allows them the majority of whatever reduction the laser will give them, and then switch to electrolysis to finish it off completely. This saves a lot of time and money.
How much does laser hair removal cost?
Cost varies based on multiple factors including:
the specialist’s experience
size of the treatment area
number of sessions
As of 2016, laser hair removal cost $306 per session on average, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Most offices offer payment plans.
As an elective procedure, laser hair removal is not covered by medical insurance.