The last thing you want when you hit the beach is to show off the hair on your legs and under your arms. But shaving leaves nicks and cuts, tweezing is tedious, waxing is painful, and all of these options last for only a short period of time before you have to do them again. Fear not, though — laser hair removal may be the answer to your prayers.
At Omni-Med Family Care & Urgent Care in Florham, New Jersey, Dr. Roger DiRuggiero and our team provide our patients with primary care, urgent care, and aesthetic services. With laser hair removal, we can give you the smooth skin you want without any invasive procedures or downtime.
What does laser hair removal entail?
Lasers produce a narrow, focused beam of light. In the case of hair removal, that light is absorbed by the melanin pigment in the hairs within the treatment area. The light energy is then converted into heat energy, which damages the hair follicles; that prevents or delays future hair growth.
Not all your hairs are in their growth phase at the same time, so you may need more than one treatment to remove hair from the entire area. In addition, while treatments last for a long time, they’re rarely permanent, so you’ll probably need maintenance sessions along the way. Laser treatments can be used successfully on all skin types, but they’re most effective for people with light skin and dark hair.
Dark hair works best since you want the pigment in the hair, not the skin, to absorb the light. It should also damage only the follicle, bypassing the skin. The risk of skin damage is greater when there’s little contrast between hair and skin color, but new technological advances have made laser hair removal possible for people with darker skin.
Laser hair removal is also less effective for hair colors that aren’t good at absorbing light: gray, red, blond, and white. But again, new treatment technologies continue to be developed to bypass this issue.
What areas can lasers be used for hair removal?
The most common areas for hair removal include:
- Bikini area
- Upper lip and chin
Basically, it's possible to treat unwanted hair nearly anywhere on the body, except the eyelids or surrounding area. Skin with tattoos also shouldn’t be treated, since the inks can absorb the light.
What’s involved in the hair removal procedure?
Before your treatment, we advise you to:
- Stay out of the sun: Wear sunscreen if you have to go out
- Avoid other hair removal methods: They can disturb the hair follicles
- Shave treatment area: This removes hair above the surface that can burn
When you arrive, we can provide you with a topical anesthetic to numb the treatment area, if you’d like, and we give you goggles to protect your eyes from the laser light.
Next, we apply a hand-held device to the treatment area, which directs the laser energy to the hair follicles. The device has a built-in cooling mechanism, but we can also use a special gel to keep your skin cool during the procedure and reduce any side effects.
As the laser targets the follicles, you may feel a sensation of warm pinpricks, but you won’t feel pain. The treatment can last anywhere from a few minutes for small areas (e.g., the upper lip) to more than an hour for large areas (e.g., the legs or back).
Following laser hair removal, you might experience swelling and/or redness at the treatment area, but it usually subsides within a few hours. We recommend you apply ice to the area as needed to reduce any discomfort.
After laser hair removal treatment, you should begin to notice hair shedding over the next several days or weeks, but complete removal usually requires more than one treatment. The interval between treatments varies depending on the location.
Hair grows quickly on the upper lip, so you may need to come back in four to eight weeks. Hair grows more slowly on areas such as the back, so you might need treatment only every 12 to 16 weeks.
While you’re going through treatment, be sure to protect your skin, especially the treatment area(s), from the sun using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
Are you tired of painful hair removal methods that don’t last very long? Laser hair removal may be your answer. Contact Omni-Med Family Care & Urgent Care to learn more by calling us at 973-377-8776, or you can schedule an appointment online.