The most frequent cosmetic use of lasers for the skin is for permanent reduction of hair growth. Besides cosmetic use, reduction in hair growth may improve some skin conditions such as ingrown hairs and folliculitis – an acne-like eruption.
How is it performed?
A beam of light from the laser is directed onto the skin where there is unwanted hair growth. Melanin (the pigment in the hair) absorbs the light and converts it to heat. This heat then inactivates the surrounding hair follicle.
How many treatments are required?
Several treatments of laser hair removal are required, usually at least 6 sessions. This is because the laser only targets those follicles that are in their active hair growth phase. If a follicle is in one of its dormant phases, the hair follicles will not be affected. These phases of hair growth are illustrated in the diagram below.
In most sites (arm, thigh, leg, bikini line), only 20% to 40% of the hair follicles are in their active phase at any one time. Other factors that affect the number of laser hair removal treatments include the location on the body, hair color, hair thickness and skin color.
How often are treatments administered?
Laser hair removal is performed approximately every 2 months. This is sufficient time for many of the resting hair follicles to begin their active hair growth phase.
Who can be treated?
Because melanin in the hair shaft is the actual target that absorbs the laser light, the procedure works best for those with dark hairs – white, silver, blonde, red, and gray hairs respond poorly. In addition, thick hairs respond better than fine hairs. Besides hair color, the other important variable is skin color: The lighter the skin color, the more effective the results and the fewer treatments that may be required. If the complexion is too dark, permanent hair reduction may not be achieved. Some lasers are safer than others for treating dark skin – however, even those that are safe on dark skin may not provide permanent reduction in hair growth.
What are the additional benefit to laser hair removal?
Reduction in hair growth may improve some skin conditions such as ingrown hairs and folliculitis – an acne-like eruption of the skin. This is a common problem for some women on their bikini lines and for some men on their neck and beard areas.
Are there any limitations before treatment?
Tanning (natural sunlight or tanning salon) and self-tanning lotion should be avoided prior to laser hair removal treatments. These darken the complexion, reducing the effectiveness of treatment – less light from the laser actually reaches the hair and the follicle.
How should I prepare for treatment?
Prior to your laser hair removal appointment, the skin must be shaved to remove any hair on the surface. However, you should not wax or pluck prior to your laser hair removal treatment. If the entire hair shaft is removed from the follicle, the treatment will not be effective.
What can I expect after treatment?
The skin will be somewhat red and swollen immediately after the laser hair removal treatment. This usually takes several hours to several days to resolve. All of the follicles shed their hairs within 1 to 3 weeks after the laser treatment at which time the skin appears hairless. After 6 to 10 weeks, hair growth is, again, observed.
You may resume all activities immediately after laser hair removal treatment. However, if you are going to be in the sun, you should use a sunscreen to prevent sunburn or tanning, at least until the redness from the laser treatment has resolved (usually a few hours to days).
Is treatment painful?
There is discomfort associated with laser hair removal, but there is individual variation in the discomfort experienced. The discomfort experienced depends upon hair color, hair density, hair thickness and skin color. We can apply a topical anesthetic cream prior to treatment to reduce the discomfort. After treatment there is usually minimal, if any, discomfort experienced.
“You cannot go wrong with this dermatologist. Dr. Green and his staff are the very best! They go out of their way to assure patient satisfaction. I have used many services in the Bethesda location, and have always been more than satisfied. I highly recommend Dr. Green.”
Dr. David Green, M.D.
Dr. David Green is a Board certified Dermatologist in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Green specializes in Dermatology, Dermatologic Cosmetic and Laser Surgery and the treatment of Varicose Veins and vascular disorders.
He is Certified by the American Board of Dermatology, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, and a Member of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, and the American College of Phlebology. He treats patients from Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia and throughout the Mid Atlantic region.
Dr. David Green proudly offers services in his Bethesda, Maryland office.
4800 Montgomery Ln.,
Bethesda, MD 20814
OUR OFFICE IS COMPLIANT WITH THE CURRENT MARYLAND REGULATIONS INCLUDING:
10.32.09: Delegation and Assignment of Performance of Cosmetic Medical Procedures and Use of Cosmetic Medical Devices. This is a Maryland safety regulation that governs who can legally perform medical cosmetic procedures. Dr. Green administers all injectable treatments (including Botox™, Juvederm™, Voluma™, Kyblella™, and other fillers & Sclerotherapy) and laser treatments.