A property of laser light is that, when absorbed, it heats up the substance that absorbs it. In the case of hair removal, heating the hair follicle causes damage, which prevents the follicle from growing another hair. Tuning a laser so that it targets the coloring pigment in the follicle – melanin – proves to be an effective way to heat the follicle, killing its ability to grow hair. Controlled application of laser light targets areas with unwanted hair, leaving surrounding areas untouched. Laser hair removal suits nearly any place on the body, except around the eyes.
A treatment session depends on the part of the body being treated. Small regions, such as on the face or underarms, may take as little as 5 minutes while larger areas, including the legs or back, take longer.
Not all follicles respond to a single treatment. To effectively remove hair from a location, expect about 6 visits, each 1 month apart. Hair grows in cycles and treatments have the greatest effect during the growing phase of the follicle. These cycles aren’t synchronized so not all follicles are vulnerable at the time of treatment.
As for permanence, results vary from patient to patient. In some cases, hair won’t respond to the laser, while in others, new hair follicles may grow.
Laser hair removal is different from other hair removal methods. For waxing and other treatments, growing hair out usually benefits the process. Cleaning and shaving of the treatment area provides the best results for laser procedures. Avoid waxing, electrolysis, and plucking for 6 weeks prior to laser treatment. Other hair removal methods temporarily remove hair roots, which are the target for the laser. Without a hair root, no light absorbs to create the heat necessary for follicle treatment. Avoid tanning for 6 weeks before laser treatment as well, as this can lead to hyperpigmentation.