Laser hair removal is one of the top five most popular cosmetic treatments in the country. Thousands of men and women choose this long-lasting hair removal method every year to get rid of unwanted facial, chest, arm or leg hair. Excessive hair growth can be caused by hormonal shifts such as puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, but hair growth patterns can also change due to medications, hormone replacement therapy, health conditions and genetics. No matter the cause of your excessive hair, laser treatments are a great way to stop hair from growing in unwanted places.
If you’re interested in laser hair removal, please contact Rebecca Fitzgerald, MD in Los Angeles at (323) 430-9800 to schedule your consultation. Our cosmetic dermatologist serves clients in L.A., Beverly Hills, and Larchmont, California.
Some aspects to consider about laser hair removal include:
- The Psychological Impact of Excessive Hair Growth
- How Laser Hair Removal Works
- The Benefits of Laser Hair Removal
- Laser Hair Removal Vs. Traditional Methods
- How to Prepare for Your Laser Treatment
- Average Number of Treatments
- The Best Candidate for Laser Hair Removal
- Potential Side Effects
- Schedule Your Consultation Today
The Psychological Impact of Excessive Hair Growth
Dr. Fitzgerald says, “I know full well that women who suffer from abnormal hair growth patterns aren’t just 'bothered' by their problem – they really do suffer!”
While most men and women are frustrated with their natural hair growth for cosmetic reasons, many also struggle with abnormal hair growth—a medical condition called Hirsutism. This disorder causes women to grow dark, thick hair in places on their bodies where hair is typically minimal or absent. The hair appears in male-patterns on locations such as the face, chest, and nipple area. Laser treatments and light therapies can address this abnormal hair growth and successfully minimize or eradicate the unwanted hair. Women may also benefit from topical products such as Vaniqa if the hirsutism is connected to hormonal changes.
Hirsutism leaves many women feeling subconscious, leading them to shave these areas, which can cause razor burn and ingrown hairs. Laser hair removal can successfully treat this medical condition.
How Laser Hair Removal Works
Laser hair removal works by targeting the root of your hair through a series of treatments. The lasers emit light beams that are highly-precise. The dark hair follicles under your skin absorb the intense light and cause heat to build up and destroy the follicles, thus preventing continued hair growth.
Your hair follicles are not all active at once, and laser treatments only work on hair that is actively growing, so multiple treatments are needed to reduce the full amount of hair effectively. Laser and light therapies don’t use needles or anesthesia, and most patients report feeling a minor stinging similar to the snapping of a rubber band.
This is a technical medical procedure which requires a skilled dermatologist or physician—such as our Dr. Fitzgerald in L.A.—who is trained to use the lasers.
The Benefits of Laser Hair Removal
Laser treatments offer a wide variety of advantages for cosmetic and health purposes. Some of the benefits of laser hair removal include:
- Gets rid of dark, thick hair but leaves the surrounding skin tissues intact
- Treatments are fast, treating a quarter-sized area of skin in just one second, which allows removing hair on small areas such as the face or underarms to be done in less than a minute
- Puts an end to the discomfort or embarrassment from unsightly ingrown hairs
- No more concerns about skin irritation or razor burn from shaving
- Saves you time in your everyday routine
Laser Hair Removal Vs. Traditional Methods
Older hair removal methods are time-consuming and require routine or daily maintenance to keep unwanted hair from getting too long. Laser treatments initially require several sessions, but the hair is considerably, if not completely, reduced afterward. The traditional options such as shaving and waxing are lifelong hair growth management techniques that are frustrating or painful. These methods include:
- Depilatories—Hair dissolvers
- Epilators—Mechanical devices that pull the hair from the skin
- Shavers—Tedious and makes the hair appear thicker because the cut ends are now “flat”
- Waxing—Potential to cause scars or irregular pigmentation
- Electrolysis—Extremely time-consuming and slow process
How to Prepare for Your Laser Treatment
Dr. Fitzgerald will walk you through the laser hair removal process during your initial consultation. You will want to avoid waxing or plucking the hair in the area for up to six weeks before each treatment. Electrolysis should also be discontinued or avoided before laser hair removal. Laser treatments work by targeting the roots of your hair, and those traditional methods remove the root temporarily.
During the course of your treatments, you should avoid excessive sun exposure and be sure to wear sunscreen as much as possible to prevent unnecessary complications and maximize your results. Dr. Fitzgerald may also recommend you shave before coming to our Los Angeles office and stay away from using lotions.
Average Number of Treatments
Your hair grows in phases, and not all hair follicles are active at once, which is why multiple laser treatments are necessary to address all of the hair in that area of your body. The anagen phase occurs when your hair follicles are growing, and laser energy has the best impact on these active hairs. However, dormant hairs in the telogen phase will grow within approximately three weeks to three months, which is when you’ll notice new growth in the treated area. The different hair cycles are why we schedule laser treatments at least one month apart.
Depending on how your hair responds to the laser, you may need anywhere from three to seven sessions. We’ve found that a minimum of three treatments performed over a 12-month period produce long-term, satisfactory results. Some areas of the body respond to laser treatments faster than others such as the female face, underarms, and bikini area. The backs, legs, and arms typically require more sessions for optimal results.
The Best Candidate for Laser Hair Removal
Laser treatments for hair removal work by targeting the melanin pigment, or “color” in the follicle and skin. Candidates for this procedure with light skin and darker hair will likely see better results because the hair follicle can absorb more of the laser energy. Tanned skin “robs” laser energy as it passes through your skin to the roots of your hair follicles.
Dr. Fitzgerald recommends that you avoid tanning before your hair laser treatments. You should also refrain from using spray-on tanning products for up to a week before your laser treatment because these over-the-counter products contain metallic ingredients that may intensify laser heat and cause burnings. If you have white or gray hair, laser hair removal will most likely not work because your hair follicles lack the pigment required for the procedure to be effective.
Darker skins are now safely treated with the newer laser designed for tanned and darker skin tones without the risk of creating hyperpigmentation. Dr. Fitzgerald will select the appropriate laser to use for your hair color and skin type.
Potential Side Effects
Sometimes you may experience slight regrowth of some hair, though it is usually finer and lighter than what was originally removed. Some patients may experience slight reddening and localized skin swelling, much like a sunburn. In some instances, blistering may occur. However, these effects typically last 24 hours or less.
A majority of patients are elated with the results from their laser hair removal treatments, and the satisfaction rate is very high overall. There will be some fine, light-colored hairs left over that will not be permanently removed. These hairs, especially on the face, do not absorb the laser light and therefore, are not affected. The chosen area will not be 100 percent hair-free because your skin heals with the help of the hair follicle, so it’s important that you retain some of this fine hair to help your skin heal in the future.
Burns and scarring are seen mostly in “spa” or “med spa” locations that are medically unsupervised. To ensure your safety, it’s wise to always make sure your laser treatment is performed by a dermatologist or physician who is trained to do the laser procedure and knows how to use the necessary equipment.
Schedule Your Laser Hair Removal Consultation Today
Rebecca Fitzgerald, MD has been published repeatedly in various journals of dermatology and was a featured physician on several television programs both locally and nationally. She’s presented at seminars and conferences around the world and is highly sought after for her expertise in dermatology and ability to skillfully train other physicians.
If you’re interested in laser hair removal or other cosmetic dermatology treatments, please contact Dr. Fitzgerald in Los Angeles today at (323) 430-9800 to schedule your consultation. We serve clients in the L.A., Larchmont and Beverly Hills areas of California.