How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
Laser hair removal uses big machines with a small probe having a round window. The machine generates radiations in the range of 600 to 1200 nm. These rays are transmitted through the round window into the pigment of unwanted hair.
After traveling to the hair strand, the laser light finally reaches the hair roots and is transformed into heat energy. This heat energy either kills the hair follicle directly or is diffused to the neighboring follicles while putting it into a dormant state. These principles called selective photo-thermolysis and extended selective photo-thermolysis are explained in an informative article published in the National Library of Medicine .
How Many Laser Hair Removal Sessions Do You Need?
If you are assuming that you’ll be done with laser hair removal treatment in a month or two, we’ll have to break the news that laser hair removal is a multiple-session procedure with each session spaced at an interval of 4 to 6 weeks. This is because hair needs to be in its active phase of growth for it to absorb the radiation. So, you will need 6 to 12 sessions to achieve complete hairlessness.
Furthermore, you won’t see results within 1 treatment as a laser at least requires 3 treatments to show visible areas of hairless skin and slowed hair growth in other areas. A study by Elizabeth Russe carried on for about 30 years concludes that laser is 60% effective after 3 treatments and requires 5 or more treatments to be 75-100% efficient .
What is the Cost of Laser Hair Removal?
There is no set cost of laser hair removal. It varies depending upon the area you want to treat, the clinic prices you are getting treated, promotions and discounts, the location of the clinic, and the number of sessions needed as well. In general, 1 session of laser on the legs and back costs $500 to $800, $200 to $300 on the face and chin, $150 to $250 on underarms, and $250 to $350 on bikini lines. The cost of the whole treatment adds up to thousands of dollars.
An estimation of the average laser hair removal cost by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons in 2020 was $389 for 1 session excluding the additional and miscellaneous charges .
What to Expect from Laser Hair Removal?
People who dream of getting a laser offer set high standards for an ordinary procedure. So, here is a reality check to find out what to expect from laser hair removal.
You cannot go to any random clinic and get your laser done. Instead, you need to research to find a trustworthy laser provider. Furthermore, before jumping into the session, talk to your doctor about the reason for getting laser, your health condition like hirsutism or PCOS, any query you have, and also get the treatment plan.
The Procedure and Experience:
The skin should be freshly shaved before the commencement of your laser hair removal treatment. You should not pluck, wax, or tweez the hair to be treated. Also, you will be given UV protective goggles to protect your eyes from the light.
The doctor applies an anesthetic gel and flashes the round window of the laser probe onto your skin. It sounds like the beep of an elevator. Additionally, the flashes give you a burning pain varying in intensity. It might feel like a rubber band snap or a bee sting. So, be prepared and do not be afraid during the session as it is normal and will cause no harm.
The procedure of the laser has been explained in an article by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons .
The Side Effects:
The skin after laser hair removal becomes swollen and tender. You can also see some little bumps in the follicles that have been killed. All these side effects are temporary and resolve on their own or by application of cold compresses within 1 day. Furthermore, you can find the detailed side effects and risks of laser hair removal here.
Why Should You Get Laser Hair Removal?
Below are some reasons why laser hair removal can be worth it.
Safe for Skin:
Laser hair removal is an FDA-approved and clinically tested procedure that has been on the market for decades. Although it seems risky, the laser causes no long-term adverse effects as long as it is performed by a skilled professional. The safety of laser in terms of its side effects has been reviewed in an article by PubMed .
Available for Colored Hair:
Laser mainly works for dark hair and light skin. However, the most advanced laser technologies can treat colored hair as well as explained in laser hair removal for blonde and red hair. The efficacy of laser for blonde hair has been determined in a clinical trial published in PubMed .
Reduced Risk of Ingrown Hair and Strawberry Legs:
Hair removal remove kills the hair follicles, makes hair regrowth finer, and prevents curling of the hair under the skin. As a result, strawberry legs and ingrown hair are prevented and treated.
Long Lasting Results:
Once your treatment is completed, the results of laser hair removal treatment last for 2 to 10 years depending upon the effectiveness of the treatment and your hormonal balance. However, even during this time, you need 1 to 2 follow-up sessions in a year.
Precise and Targeted Treatment:
Why Should You Avoid Laser Hair Removal?
Here are some reasons why you might consider an alternative to laser hair removal.
Even though the price of an individual session of laser seems affordable, you will be paying over $2000 to $3000 for the complete treatment. So, it might be too expensive for the results it offers. Also, check why is laser hair removal so expensive here.
You are Pregnant:
The effect of laser treatment on pregnancy is unclear because there is limited study on the safety of fetuses as concluded by the American Pregnancy Association . This is further elaborated in laser hair removal and pregnancy.
Your Pain Sensitivity is Low:
Each flash of laser stings the skin. This sting just feels uncomfortable to some people. To the others, it gives a burning pain. So, you might want to reconsider your choice if your pain sensitivity is low.
You Have Tattoos:
The rays of the laser tend to absorb into the pigment whether it is of hair or the skin. As tattoos are hyperpigmented areas created artificially on the skin, they absorb the radiation from the laser. This can cause skin burns, blisters, and scarring. So, avoid laser if you have tattoos. The Westland Dermatology Center explains how the laser can be done on areas with tattoos .
You have Herpes/Malignancy:
If you have a herpes infection, the laser can cause herpes breakouts. And if you have cancer, the laser can worsen the condition. Therefore, wait until these conditions are resolved before getting a laser.
Is There Any Alternative to Laser Hair Removal?
Yes, IPL hair removal was introduced a few years ago as an at-home alternative to laser hair removal. IPL devices like Ulike Sapphire Air3 IPL Handset offer the following advantages when compared with laser.
In contrast to the hundreds of dollars you will be spending for a single session of a single part of the body, Ulike Air3 only costs $379 for unlimited sessions on both body and face.
Results in Less Time:
As the treatment window of the laser probe is small and round, it covers a small surface area requiring hundreds of flashes on the body. So, it takes 30 minutes or an hour or more for the treatment depending upon the part you are getting treated.
In comparison, you need only 12 minutes to treat the whole body including the face with Ulike Air3 as its rectangular window covers the greater surface area and also flashes faster.
Safe and Convenient:
Just like a laser, Ulike Air3 is FDA-cleared and tested making it safe. However, in contrast to going to clinics and staying in awkward positions, you can ulike at-home laser devices at home making them convenient and user-friendly. The safety of IPL has been determined in a clinical trial .
Laser cannot be done without anesthesia. Even with anesthesia, the pain can be unbearable for some people. But if you opt for Ulike Air3, you can expect minimal discomfort and nearly no pain with its sapphire ice-cooling technology.
Whether it is laser or IPL, it is not permanent. You will need bi or tri-monthly follow-up sessions. These sessions are easier to do when you have the device lying somewhere in your home instead of going to a clinic and booking an appointment.
One Time Payment:
Every time you go for a laser hair removal session or its follow-up, you have to pay for it. However, once you pay for the Ulike Air3 IPL device, it will last your whole life with its unlimited flashes.
Final Verdict: Is Laser Hair Removal Worth it?
Several factors decide the worth of laser hair removal. If you are aiming for long-lasting smooth skin without ingrown hair and strawberry legs and are afraid of using an IPL device incorrectly at home, in-salon IPL hair removal is worth it. Also, estimate your expenses and budget in advance.
However, if you do not want to make an effort and give time to laser hair removal, it is not worth it. In this case, you have to be decisive in trying IPL hair removal as a safe and convenient alternative to laser hair removal. Also, doing your IPL is no rocket science as long as you follow the instructions.
Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts
As an expert and enthusiast, I have personal experiences or emotions, but I can provide you with information on the concepts mentioned in the article.
Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is a popular method for reducing unwanted hair. It involves using a laser to target the hair follicles, which absorbs the laser energy and is destroyed or put into a dormant state. The procedure is based on the principle of selective photothermolysis, where the laser targets the pigment in the hair follicles while leaving the surrounding skin unharmed [].
Number of Laser Hair Removal Sessions
Laser hair removal is typically not a one-time treatment. Multiple sessions are usually required to achieve the desired results. The number of sessions needed can vary depending on factors such as the area being treated, hair color, and individual response to the treatment. Generally, 6 to 12 sessions are recommended, with each session spaced 4 to 6 weeks apart [].
Cost of Laser Hair Removal
The cost of laser hair removal can vary depending on several factors, including the area being treated, the clinic's prices, promotions and discounts, the location of the clinic, and the number of sessions needed. On average, the cost of laser hair removal can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars for the entire treatment. For example, the cost of one session on the legs and back can range from $500 to $800, while on the face and chin it can range from $200 to $300 [].
What to Expect from Laser Hair Removal
Before undergoing laser hair removal, it is important to consult with a trustworthy laser provider and discuss your reasons for getting the treatment, your health condition, and any concerns you may have. During the procedure, the skin should be freshly shaved, and an anesthetic gel may be applied. The laser is then flashed onto the skin, and you may experience a burning sensation or discomfort. After the treatment, temporary side effects such as swelling and tenderness may occur, but they typically resolve within a day [].
Reasons to Choose Laser Hair Removal
There are several reasons why laser hair removal may be worth considering:
- Safe for Skin: Laser hair removal is an FDA-approved and clinically tested procedure that has been on the market for decades. When performed by a skilled professional, it has no long-term adverse effects [].
- Available for Colored Hair: While laser hair removal is most effective for dark hair and light skin, advanced laser technologies can also treat colored hair [].
- Reduced Risk of Ingrown Hair and Strawberry Legs: Laser hair removal can help prevent and treat ingrown hair and strawberry legs by destroying the hair follicles and reducing hair regrowth [].
- Long-Lasting Results: After completing the treatment, the results of laser hair removal can last for several years, depending on the effectiveness of the treatment and individual hormonal balance. Follow-up sessions may be required to maintain the results [].
- Precise and Targeted Treatment: Laser hair removal targets the hair follicles while leaving the surrounding skin intact, making it a precise treatment option [].
Reasons to Avoid Laser Hair Removal
While laser hair removal can be beneficial for many individuals, there are some reasons why it may not be suitable for everyone:
- Cost: Laser hair removal can be expensive, especially when considering the total cost of multiple sessions. The price range for the complete treatment can be over $2000 to $3000 [].
- Pregnancy: The safety of laser hair removal during pregnancy is unclear, and limited studies have been conducted on the safety of fetuses [].
- Low Pain Sensitivity: Laser hair removal can cause discomfort or a burning sensation during the procedure. Individuals with low pain sensitivity may find it uncomfortable [].
- Tattoos: Laser hair removal should be avoided on areas with tattoos, as the laser can cause skin burns, blisters, and scarring [].
- Herpes/Malignancy: Individuals with active herpes infections or certain types of cancer should wait until these conditions are resolved before undergoing laser hair removal [].
Alternative to Laser Hair Removal: IPL Hair Removal
IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) hair removal is an alternative to laser hair removal. IPL devices, such as the Ulike Sapphire Air3 IPL Handset, offer advantages such as affordability, faster treatment times, safety, convenience, and relatively less discomfort compared to laser hair removal. IPL devices can be used at home and provide unlimited sessions after a one-time payment [].
Final Verdict: Is Laser Hair Removal Worth it?
The worth of laser hair removal depends on individual preferences and circumstances. If you desire long-lasting smooth skin, are concerned about ingrown hair and strawberry legs, and prefer professional treatment, in-salon laser hair removal may be worth considering. However, if you prefer a more affordable and convenient option that can be done at home, IPL hair removal could be a suitable alternative [].
Please note that the information provided is based on general knowledge and search results. It is always recommended to consult with a qualified professional or healthcare provider for personalized advice and recommendations.