The Basics of Laser Hair Removal


The best candidate for laser hair removal has light skin and coarse, dark hair. The reason for this is very simple. Lasers used for hair removal heat up, melanin. Melanin is what gives our hair and skin it’s color. The more melanin you have in your hair or skin, the darker it is. As the laser heats the hair, it damages the follicle. The key to safe laser hair removal is to effectively heat the hair while taking care not to heat the skin too much. 

You should always have a consultation with your practitioner before having laser hair removal. This consultation should include a skin evaluation to help determine the amount of melanin available in your skin. The next step should be to perform a test area with the laser. At Leesburg Laser Center we typically use the underarms for the test area for women. For men we use the back of the neck or an area on the back for the test area. In other words, just for coming to us for a complimentary consultation, you’ll get a treatment on a small area. We believe this helps you to make an informed decision about whether laser hair removal is a good choice for you.
Treatments are relatively quick. Underarms take about 5 minutes while lower legs or full back take about 45 minutes. At the end of your treatment your skin will appear mildly pink and you will have very tiny bumps where the coarse hairs were. This is actually the response we are trying to create. Your skin will return to its’ usual color within minutes for small areas and generally within 1/2 hour with a large area such as a back. It is common for women to have a facial treatment over their lunch hour and return to work without having any obvious signs that they just had their treatment.
At this point, you experience what we call the “shedding phase”. The fine hairs vaporize during the treatment. However, the coarse hairs will not vaporize and will still be visible. These hairs will start to push out of your skin (shed) in the next 3 to 5 days. Within a week or two after your treatment, these hairs will fall out and you will be hair free for the next three weeks or more. At that point, your hair will return and you will be ready for your next treatment.
Between your first and second treatment you will notice very little difference in the amount of hair once it grows back. You may notice the hair shaves more easily. When the hair looks like it did before your first treatment, you’re ready for your second treatment. It is best to allow the hair to come back before having your next treatment. 
After your second treatment, the hair that grows back will be visibly finer. I always alert women having their chin area and men having their back treated that they may experience an increased amount of regrowth after their second treatment. This is what we call dormant hair growth. Dormant hair is typically very fine hair that may or may not grow later in life. The benefit to having it grow out now is that the laser can treat it so you won’t have to worry about it later.
After your third treatment you will start to notice less and less hair returning each time. You will know you are getting finished with an area when you no longer notice much shedding as mentioned earlier.
Nobody can guarantee how many treatments you will need to complete the process. I can tell you from personal experience that it can take anywhere from 4 to 8 treatments spaced approximately 8 weeks apart. Coarse hair typically responds in fewer treatments that fine hair.