If you’ve tried different methods to remove unwanted hair, only to be left with bumps, nicks, burns or the hassles of repeated shaving, tweezing or waxing, laser hair removal might be an option worth considering.

  1. How does it work?
  2. Laser hair removal is a medical procedure that uses an intense beam of focused light to remove unwanted hair. It works by passing a light beam through the skin.

When this light beam hits pigment in the hair follicle (where hair growth originates), the hair follicle is destroyed. Hair grows in alternating cycles, and multiple treatments are required to catch each cycle, as the treatment is effective on actively growing hair.

  1. What results can I expect with laser hair removal?
  2. Although laser hair removal doesn’t guarantee 100 percent permanent hair removal, it does dramatically remove most dark hairs, and what is left is usually finer and less visible.
  3. What parts of the body can be treated?
  4. Common treatment locations include legs, armpits, upper lip, chin and bikini line. However, it is possible to treat unwanted hair in almost any area of the body.

Q: What are the benefits?

A: Benefits of laser hair removal include:

  • Precision: Lasers can selectively target dark, coarse hairs, leaving the surrounding skin undamaged.
  • Speed: Each pulse of the laser takes a fraction of a second and can treat many hairs at the same time. The laser can treat an area approximately the size of a quarter every second. Small areas such as the upper lip can be treated in less than a minute, while large areas, such as the back or legs, might take longer.
  • Predictability: 90 percent of patients have permanent hair loss after an average of three to five sessions.

Q: Are there any risks?

A: Complications from laser hair removal are rare if you go to a qualified doctor.

  1. What should I know before I make an appointment?
  2. You should meet with a doctor who is board certified in dermatology before the procedure to determine your treatment plan. Laser hair removal should not be performed by personnel not supervised by a physician. Trust your skin care to professionals.

Q: What should I do to prepare for a treatment?

A: Your physician will give you specific advice, but if you are planning on undergoing laser hair removal, you should limit plucking, waxing and electrolysis for six weeks before treatment.

That’s because the laser targets the hairs’ roots, which are temporarily removed by waxing or plucking.

You should also avoid sun exposure for six weeks before and after treatment. Sun exposure decreases the effectiveness of laser hair removal and increases the risk of complications following treatment.

Laser hair removal is a simple and relatively painless process – and may be just what you need. Consult a dermatologist to find out if it’s right for you.

Dr. Oswald Lightsey Mikell, certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, is the owner of Dermatology Associates of the Lowcountry.