Laser Hair Removal: Winter Months are the Best Time
Let’s talk about laser hair removal. Winter Months are actually the best time for laser hair removal. Yes, humans are mammals and mammals are meant to have hair on their bodies. But the only place we really want to have luxurious locks is on our heads.
During the cold winter months, you may not be thinking about the need for hair removal. But given the fact that it takes more than one session over a period of several weeks for laser hair removal to be completed this is the perfect time to start scheduling appointments.
Since the mid-1990’s the process for hair removal has evolved dramatically. Initially, you used to have to let hair grow in order to have it removed. That process was ok for leg hairs but could be embarrassing for those with unwanted facial hair. Today hair can be shaved prior to an appointment for hair removal.
You might wonder how laser hair removal works on clean shaven skin?
The magic word in laser hair removal is “melanin” which is the brown to black pigment in our skin, hair and eyes. During hair removal, a concentrated beam of light (the laser) is directed to the area of unwanted hair. This light absorbs the melanin in the hair shafts and is converted to heat. The heat travels down the shaft of your hair and damages the follicle that produces the hair. If hair has stubble above the skin, there is risk to burning the skin surrounding the pigmented hair.
Since melanin is needed for laser hair removal, this only works on dark hair – blond, red, white and gray hairs don’t have the melanin needed. In addition, when skin is lighter, the contrast between the skin and the hair pigment is greatest, so laser hair removal works best on lighter skinned people with darker hair.
Scheduling laser removal when skin is not tanned is best because the goal is to have the energy from the laser work on the hair, not the skin. Thus, winter months when you get less sun are a great time for this procedure.
Does the treatment remove hair permanently?
Laser treatment can either permanently reduce the density of the hair or permanently remove unwanted hair. Permanent reduction in hair density means some hairs will regrow after a single course of therapy and patients will need ongoing laser treatment.
Permanent hair removal means none of the hairs in the treated area will regrow after a single course of therapy and no ongoing laser therapy is needed.
Whether hair is removed permanently or just reduced in density is influenced by:
- the color and thickness of the hairs being treated
- the color of the patient’s skin
- the type and quality of the laser used, and
- the competence and training of the person operating the laser.
- However, if you have grey hairs, which have no melanin pigmentation, currently available lasers don’t work.
How many treatments will I need?
The number of treatments you’ll need depends on your skin type. This classifies your skin by color, its sun sensitivity and its likelihood to tan.
Pale or white skin, burns easily, rarely tans. People with dark hair can usually achieve permanent hair removal with 4-6 treatments every 4-6 weeks. People with fair hair will generally only achieve permanent hair reduction and after an initial course of treatment may need 6-12 treatments a month apart.
Laser hair removal is actually a permanent “reduction” in hair. In reality, some hairs may continue to grow after several necessary treatments. This has to do with the growth cycle of our hairs. Hair goes thru three stages of hair growth- anagen, catagen and telogen. Anagen is the active growth phase for hair, and the only phase where laser hair removal is effective. Hair does not grow at the same rate- while some hairs are in anagen, others are in catagen (the shedding phase) or telogen (the dormant phase). Only 20% of our hairs are in anagen at a time and can be affected by the laser. Repeat treatments can be done when new hair growth is seen – usually 4-8 weeks after the prior treatment.
How can I prepare for my appointment?
First, do not pluck hair in the area you would like treated – you need hair in the shaft for laser hair removal to work. Shaving prior to your visit is fine – you can even shave minutes before your visit! Second, do not come in when skin is burned or tan, or after using a self-tanning product. The contrast of light skin and dark hair will make your treatment most effective. Lastly, make sure you discuss medications and medical history with your doctor- especially blood thinning medications and history of cold sores. There may be medications you need to take or stop before your procedure.
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