Laser hair removal is a popular way to get rid of unwanted body and facial hair. This technique uses highly concentrated pulses of laser light to target and damage the hair follicle, preventing future hair growth.
Laser hair removal can be an effective and convenient way to achieve smooth, hair-free skin. However, like any cosmetic procedure, there are some advantages and disadvantages to consider before undergoing treatment. This article will provide an in-depth examination of the pros and cons of laser hair removal.
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
Before analyzing the pros and cons, it’s important to understand how laser hair removal works. The laser emits a beam of highly concentrated light that selectively targets the melanin in hair follicles. Melanin gives hair its color and allows the laser to precisely pinpoint dark hairs.
The laser pulse heats up the hair follicles, damaging them to prevent future hair growth. Since the surrounding skin does not contain melanin, it is not affected by the laser. Typically 6-8 treatments spaced 4-6 weeks apart are needed to achieve the best results.
Long-Lasting Reduction of Hair Growth
One of the biggest advantages of laser hair removal is its ability to provide long-lasting hair reduction. Most patients see a permanent reduction in hair growth after an average of 3-5 sessions. For many people, investing in laser hair removal means not having to regularly shave, wax, or epilate ever again.
According to a study published in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, patients experienced an average reduction of 70-90% in hair growth after 3 laser sessions. The results can last for years, making this method highly effective for permanent hair reduction.
Treat Large Areas Effectively
Laser hair removal can treat small or large areas of the face and body. Each session typically takes between 15 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the area being treated. This makes it significantly faster than electrolysis which removes hair individually.
You can effectively treat the upper lip, underarms, legs, back, and bikini area in a single session. Laser hair removal is the preferred method for people wanting hair removal across larger surface areas.
Fewer Ingrown Hairs and Razor Bumps
Waxing and shaving often lead to ingrown hairs and razor bumps caused by the hair curling back into the skin. Laser treatments damage the hair follicle deeply in the growth phase, preventing this effect.
Patients report fewer problems with ingrown hairs, razor bumps, and skin irritation after completing laser hair removal treatments. The results are smooth skin free from shaving discomfort.
Long Lasting Results
As mentioned earlier, laser hair removal provides permanent hair reduction that lasts for years after the recommended treatment sessions. You can be free from tedious hair removal routines and enjoy smooth skin for the long term.
Touch-up sessions may be required annually or biannually to maintain results. But you achieve long-lasting hair reduction, unlike temporary options like shaving or waxing, which require daily or weekly maintenance.
The Cons of Laser Hair Removal
Multiple Treatments Are Required
One major downside of laser hair removal is that it takes multiple sessions to see results. On average, it takes 4-6 treatments spaced apart by 4-6 weeks. Since hair grows in different cycles, the laser can only target the active growth phase. Several treatments are needed to damage all hair follicles over time.
The process requires commitment over several months before achieving desired results. For people wanting immediate hair removal, this gradual process can be inconvenient.
Can Be Expensive
The cost of laser hair removal depends on the size of the area being treated. Small areas like the upper lip cost between $150 and $350 per session on average. Larger areas like the legs can cost between $600 and $900 per treatment.
When you calculate the cost of multiple sessions, the total price tag can add up. Laser hair removal is certainly an investment, which may not be affordable for people on a tight budget.
May Cause Discomfort
Most patients tolerate laser hair removal well. However, some discomfort, stinging, or minor pain may occur during treatment, especially on sensitive body parts. Using a topical anesthetic 30-60 minutes before the session can help manage discomfort.
It’s a good idea to take over-the-counter pain medication before and after laser sessions on very sensitive areas. This side effect is temporary but should be considered.
Not Effective for All Hair and Skin Types
Laser hair removal works best for targeting coarse, dark hair. The laser device cannot selectively damage lighter fine hair since it lacks melanin. For people with blonde, red, or white hair, this treatment will be the least effective.
In addition, the laser cannot distinguish between dark hair and dark skin. It is safest and most effective for light to olive skin tones. People with dark brown or black skin are not ideal candidates due to the risk of skin discoloration or blistering from the laser.
Requires Avoiding Sun Exposure
Laser technicians advise against tanning and sun exposure before and after treatment sessions. Exposure can cause side effects and reduce the laser effectiveness.
If undergoing laser hair removal on the face or areas often exposed to the sun, patients must commit to regularly using sunscreen and avoiding direct sunlight during the treatment period. This requires extra care to protect the skin.
Is Laser Hair Removal Right For You?
While laser hair removal offers many advantages for permanent hair reduction, there are some downsides to consider as well. It is an effective treatment for light to olive skin types and works best on coarse, dark hair. The process requires multiple sessions over several months.
The investment of time and money must be weighed against the benefit of achieving smooth skin and not dealing with shaving or waxing on a regular basis. Consulting with an experienced dermatologist can help determine if laser hair removal aligns with your specific goals, hair/skin type, budget, and tolerance for discomfort.
With the right expectations about the pros and cons, laser hair removal can be an empowering cosmetic treatment for taking control of unwanted hair growth. Permanently destroying hair follicles offers freedom from endless hair maintenance routines. Carefully review the advantages and drawbacks when deciding if laser is right for you.