Laser hair removal is a safe and effective procedure that can be used on most areas of the body to remove unwanted hairs. During the procedure, a doctor directs a laser beam at the area to be treated. Laser pulses are sent into the skin, where it turns into heat. This heat deactivates the hair follicle, causing it to stop producing hairs. Each pulse removes the hairs in a small area. The size depends on the type of laser being used, but most lasers are capable of covering an area about the size of a nickel during each pulse. While the laser is sending pulses, it will feel like a rubber band snapping against your skin.
Because of the way lasers targets the follicles that produce hairs, it is only effective against actively growing follicles. Those that are dormant will not be affected by the laser beam. Since only about half of the hair follicles are in the active stage at any given time, several treatments will be required. After these treatments, spaced 4-6 weeks apart, most patients experience long-term hair removal. However, since the follicles are inactivated but not completely destroyed by the lasers beam, it is possible that over time the hairs may begin to regrow. Some patients do come back for follow-up visits a few years later.
During the hair removal process, the laser selectively targets the melanin in the hair follicle. To help the laser pass safely through your skin, the doctor will apply a cooling gel to the area being treated before beginning the procedure.
Melanin is what turns hairs dark. As you might expect, blonde hairs contains less melanin. This makes it much harder for the laser to be effective, although newly developed lasers have certainly made improvements in this area. Still, laser hair removal works better on those with darker hair.
Because melanin is also the pigment involved in skin color, those with darker skin have also had difficulties with the procedure. The same thing happens when ordinarily light-skinned people tan before their laser hair removal procedure. However, new lasers are much more effective at making it through the skin to the hair follicles, so newer forms of laser hair removal are effective on patients with darker skin tones.
Today, there are many different lasers used for laser hair removal. These lasers are more advanced than their predecessors, offering more effective hair removal treatments that last for a longer period of time. Although the types of lasers vary, most laser hair removal works in the same manner.