The Most Common Myths About Laser Hair Removal
Posted May 04, 2016 in Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is a wildly popular procedure for getting rid of unwanted hair, but despite its rise in familiarity, several misconceptions still exist. We talked to Dr. Todd Koch’s Laser Technician Tanya Moran, who has more than 15 years of experience helping clients get rid of unwanted hair, to clear up confusion and learn the truth about laser hair removal.
People with darker skin can’t get laser hair removal
False. The problems arise when you are sunburned or tanner than your natural skin tone. “You shouldn’t be tan at all compared to your base color, but laser hair removal is perfectly fine for naturally darker-skinned people,” Tanya points out. There are different types of lasers intended for various skin types, but generally speaking, laser hair removal works most effectively where there is a notable difference between skin pigment and hair pigment – so those with light skin and light hair may not be good candidates.
Laser hair removal is the slowest way to remove hair
Not necessarily. When performed by a pro, it can quicker and less painful than other methods (such as electrolysis, which targets individual hairs) and is more efficient for larger body areas such as the legs and back.
Laser hair removal works the same way on all hair types
False. This procedure works better on darker hair because the laser targets melanin, the pigment in hair and skin. Coarser hair may take more treatments to eliminate, and lighter shades of red, blonde, gray and white typically do not respond to laser hair treatment.
Laser hair removal is painful
Not very. Most say it feels like a hot rubber band snapping your skin, followed by a cooling sensation. It’s not pleasant, but it’s not excruciating by any means. Some prefer to apply a topical numbing cream, but Tanya follows a different approach. “To me, numbing cream seems to sensitize the skin before the treatment is even started. I prefer using ice packs. Not only does ice numb the surface, it also cools the heat from the laser to prevent any overheating, which could potentially cause a more robust reaction,” Tanya says. Taking an ibuprofen or drinking a relaxing tea beforehand can help calm your nerves, but may not necessarily reduce pain. Moreover, be aware that many antibiotics and topical skin medications are light-sensitive, so let Dr. Koch and the laser technician know which medications and medicated soaps you are using to avoid over-sensitivity or hyper-pigmentation.
One treatment can get the job done
False. Six to eight treatment sessions are typically needed for complete hair removal, and even then, total permanent hair removal can’t be guaranteed. “The most important thing I tell people,” Tanya says, “is that laser hair removal is a reduction method. The hair is not completely gone forever.” The level of success depends on the size of the area and the individual’s skin and hair type, among other factors.
Plucking and tweezing can help the process along
False. Pulling out hair follicles on your own hinders the process and can even make it worse. Put the tweezers away and stick to shaving between laser hair removal treatments.
I’ll have to grow out my hair before I can have laser hair removal
False. Laser hair removal actually works better on shaven skin. Tanya recommends shaving the area with a clean razor the day before your treatment. The shorter hair allows for more efficient penetration of the laser to the follicle.
The hair disappears overnight
False. While laser hair removal targets and destroys the follicle, it can take a while to notice that hair re-growth has stopped, and you won’t be shedding old hair immediately after your appointment. Hair grows in phases, and to be permanently eliminated by a laser, the hair must be in the anagen growth phase. This is why multiple appointments are necessary for maximum effectiveness.
Laser hair removal only works on certain body parts
False. Generally, laser hair removal works on any body part where there is unwanted hair, but it is not advised for eyebrows, as our eyes can be damaged by the laser pulses.
Men don’t get laser hair removal
False. “Men call and get treated all the time, especially for their backs. I also treat chest hair and the unibrow area (not as sensitive as the rest of the eyebrow area) quite often, but backs are the most popular,” Tanya says. Guys shouldn’t be wary of inquiring about this treatment; it’s actually fairly popular among men.
With today’s technology, I can just do it myself at home
Trust us. While it’s true that at-home laser hair removal devices have been introduced in recent years, using them is at your own risk. These lasers are far less powerful and lower quality than the ones used by professionals in an office, and you’ll be glad you’re in the hands of trained, expert staff who know about skin pigmentation and the appropriate treatment levels needed to perform this procedure properly.
If you want to invest in a more permanent solution for getting rid of unsightly or unwanted hair, call Dr. Koch’s office at (716) 631-1220 to set up an appointment with our friendly staff, or contact us here.