This overview will give you a birds'-eye-view of your laser hair removal journey, from start to finish.
Step 1: Am I a good candidate for laser hair removal?
Anyone with unwanted hair is a good candidate for laser hair removal. Excess hair is called hypertrichosis, meaning extra hair on the body. Hirsuitism is the condition where women grow hair in a typically male pattern, such as a beard or mustache. Laser hair removal can also help with ingrown hairs. But even if you’re simply tired of shaving or waxing, laser hair removal is a great option.
Almost any area of the body can be treated, though several areas are particularly popular. Women tend to have laser hair removal on the legs, bikini line, under arms, back, face and upper lips. Men usually treat the back, chest, and arms.
Any type of skin and hair with pigment can be treated, provided the laser hair removal provider has the proper type of laser. The type of equipment that will be used to remove your hair is an important conversation to have at your consultation.
Step 2: How do I prep for my first treatment?
Avoid sun exposure for two weeks prior to any laser hair removal treatment. Staying out of the sun can be difficult in Houston, but sun exposure will make your skin more sensitive and could cause negative reactions to the laser treatment. For lots of reasons, your skin will thank you if you keep it out of the sun before your treatment. Use a broad-spectrum, strong sun screen and avoiding tanning (even self-tanning and tanning sprays!), as these can interfere with the treatment.
Also, no hair waxing, tweezing, bleaching, or using hair removal creams (but don’t worry – you can still shave!). The laser relies on the presence of hair (even if it’s shaved) to function.
It’s also important to communicate any skin creams or medications you are using, as some will cause an adverse reaction from the laser. Acne treatments, particularly Accutane, and antibiotics can cause an adverse reaction, and you’ll need to allow a certain amount of time for them to leave your system before getting laser hair removal.
Step 3: What is the treatment itself like?
During the treatment, a trained operator will pulse the laser tailored to your skin and hair type over the unwanted hair. It feels a bit like being snapped with a rubber band – but that pain stops the instant the laser stops pulsing against the skin. Your own sensitivity to pain may vary, so topical anesthetics can help make the procedure more comfortable. The video below shows an underarm treatment:
Step 4: What should I expect after my treatment?
The treated area will be a bit sensitive for a few days – similar to having a sunburn. Some people also experience temporary pigment changes to the skin, which clear up after a few weeks to months, depending on your individual skin makeup.
You’ll also want to schedule your next treatment! Aim for 4-8 weeks later, depending on the area being treated. Your consultant will work with you to discuss the best timing.
Step 5: When should I start to see results?
You should expect to see a 10-25 percent reduction in hair after each treatment. However, the hair won’t disappear immediately – the hair will shed out over approximately two weeks following the treatment. In follicles that have been successfully damaged, that hair will not grow back after it has shed.
It usually takes 4-6 treatments to achieve optimal results, though touch-up treatments may be necessary. This is especially true if you have a significant hormonal change, such as during a pregnancy. Some people also naturally regrow some of the treated hair. In these cases, many laser hair removal providers offer guarantees to take care of touch-up treatments and keep your target areas hair free. View more before and after pictures in our gallery.