Laser hair removal: facts vs myths

Bela Vida Med Spa and Wellness

Aesthetic Medical Spa & Wellness Specialist Located in Ocoee, FL

You have discovered the wonders of laser hair removal and yet you still shy away from undergoing this procedure because of the different myths and misconceptions that you have heard. Let us help you debunk the most common myths about laser hair removal and don’t miss out on smooth, virtually hairless skin in your life!
You don’t have to live with nicks, ingrown hairs, and irritation caused by daily shaving. Laser hair removal treatments offer semi-permanent reduction of hair growth by using laser light to target the melanin in hair follicles. Without the facts, you could be keeping yourself from achieving great results with cosmetic lasers that have proven themselves for many years to be safe and effective.
Hair. We all have it. Usually we want more of it in certain places and less of it in other places. It can be a nuisance or a blessing, depending on the angle that you view it from. For those of us trying to get rid of it, there are options.
It’s easy to turn to a razor out of habit. Unfortunately, too many people will overlook their other options due to many myths that they’ve heard through the grapevine. Take laser hair removal, for example… Let’s debunk some of those scary myths.

Myth #1: Laser hair removal will cause more hair growth.

If this were true we might already have our cure for baldness. The procedure does not cause more hair growth because it destroys hair follicles and prevents more hair from developing.

Everybody is different. Some people lose hair over time, while others form new hair follicles as they age. LHR destroys the hair follicles that are present at the time of treatment. While some people may need several treatments to eradicate any new follicles, others may need as little as two treatments. The idea that this treatment causes new hair to grow is pure myth. Lasers suppress hair follicles – they don’t (and cannot) create them.

Myth #2: The benefits of laser hair removal are the same for all.

Laser hair removal results vary from one person to another. Those with dark hair and light complexion may benefit more from laser hair removal because dark pigments are easier to identify and target.

Myth #3: You will be exposed to radiation when you undergo laser hair removal.

Traces of exposure may be emitted between the laser’s light barriers, but this is not harmful to the patient. Radiation does not come from cosmetic lasers of any kind. Cosmetic lasers, whether for hair removal, photo rejuvenation (e.g. IPL or BBL), or skin resurfacing have wavelength in a safe zone, where there is no radiation emitted. Each laser’s wavelength is usually attracted to a color. If it doesn’t see that color, then it isn’t absorbed into the skin. The lasers can’t see the thyroid, the lymph nodes or any other part of the body that is more than skin deep.

Myth #4: Only one long session is needed.

It is highly unlikely to eliminate hair growth indefinitely with just one session. Because hair grows in different cycles, it is not possible that they can be targeted by laser all at once.

Myth #5: Laser hair removal will get rid of 100 percent of your hair… forever.

This is a common misconception when it comes to laser hair removal. Laser can help you remove 80-90 percent of the hair for good but what is not removed should be lighter and finer. For those who encounter ingrown hairs or fast-growing dark course stubble, laser, while may not be 100 percent effective, is a great option for those looking for a more effective form of hair removal.

Myth #6: People with sensitive skin shouldn’t get laser hair removal.

Laser works well for clients with sensitive skin as it allows clients to no longer deal with irritating wax and the itchy stubble of daily shaving.

Myth #7: You should wait until ingrown hairs clear up before laser.

The laser will help to accelerate the healing time of ingrown hairs by killing the infection beneath the skin and encouraging the ingrown hair to pop back out. The treatments may also help to resurface the area so that skin might appear clearer and healthier.

Myth #8: Cosmetic lasers are a ‘new’ technology and still very much in the developmental and experimental stage.

The first dermal laser treatments were conducted by a dermatologist named Leon Goldman in 1962. Since then, cosmetic lasers have been successfully developed for the treatment of hair removal and much more. Clinical studies have been conducted on cosmetic lasers and have proven their effective and safe use in many skin concerns. Laser treatments were developed through scientific principles to produce specific results while minimizing unwanted side effects. In hair removal treatments, the energy from the laser is tuned to heat up and thereby deactivate hair follicles, thus preventing them from further activity. Provided a laser treatment is given within the specified treatment interval guidelines and performed by a trained expert, the results and side effects are almost always predictable and controllable.

Myth #9: Lasers are unnecessary because all their benefits can be achieved with skin care products.

Brand skin care products may have all kinds of claims; however, cosmetic lasers are required by law to be thoroughly tested for effectiveness and safety. Laser machines cannot be marketed unless approved by the US FDA which sets stringent rules on claims that any equipment may make. Most hair removal lasers are not able to specifically state that they give permanent hair removal, only permanent hair reduction. This is because occasionally hair does regrow in an area after treatment, but it will be greatly reduced in quantity and appearance. Skin creams or serums are unable to remove varicose veins, resurface and smooth out severe acne scars, and reduce the appearance of birthmarks.

Myth #10: After one treatment, you can tell if lasers will be effective or suitable for you.

Every person is different, and what works for 90% of the population may just not be right for the remaining 10%. Depending on different factors such as your skin sensitivity, pain tolerance, or your lifestyle habits such as smoking, excessive sun exposure or usage of certain skin care products, you may respond differently to a laser treatment. That is why it is important for you to trust your licensed laser expert and allow her to determine the course of your treatment and deciding if you need to change the settings from your previous procedure or not.

Myth #11: Having laser treatments causes the skin to thin out and become weak.

Lasers do not cause the skin to become weak and thin, in fact the controlled heating and wound action of a laser treatment induces the natural skin reaction of collagen and elastin formation to replace the damaged skin. Even repeated usage of lasers will not cause the skin to be damaged or weakened.

Myth #12: All laser equipment provides the same range of treatments.

Lasers are not a one size fits all, and most equipment is highly specialized and calibrated for specific purposes. There are two main types of lasers – namely ablative and non-ablative. Ablative or cutting lasers work by physically destroying the top layers of the skin and are used in procedures such as laser resurfacing. Non-ablative lasers work by targeting specific depths or colors while leaving the top layer of the skin unharmed. Different laser modalities are calibrated for various uses including hair removal and skin rejuvenation. While a single machine can often be used to treat a range of different concerns, the wavelength and energy levels are adjusted for each specific purpose. Different laser machines are also calibrated differently and may have specific strengths. Hair removal lasers can differ in the skin / hair types which they are used for.

Myth #13: Once you start using lasers, stopping treatments will cause your skin to rapidly deteriorate.

A laser treatment simply changes the conditions of your skin at the time of the treatment and does not produce a dependency. For example, after a resurfacing procedure that vaporizes skin cells to encourage cell renewal, your skin will heal and become smoother, even, and more supple. You may need several treatments to achieve your end goal. Eventually on-going aging and lifestyle factors will cause pigmentation, wrinkling or other problems to recur, which is when further treatments or a maintenance program may be necessary.

Myth #14: A laser treatment shouldn’t be painful and if it produces a severe reaction, it is a failure.

It is important to remember that a laser procedure is designed to cause controlled damage to induce the skin to heal and renew itself. A laser resurfacing procedure commonly produces a bronzing effect, as if you have had a sun burn, as the skin injury causes old and pigmented cells to die off and be replaced. Some swelling after the treatment may also be seen. Other treatments such as hair removal may not produce as severe reactions, and any blistering formation after a laser treatment is most certainly not desired. It is usually best to check with your physician or technician to determine if your post-laser reaction is indeed normal or if it needs attention, but bear in mind, a severe reaction is not necessarily a bad thing. People with a low threshold for pain may complain of discomfort during LHR. The unpleasantness of a treatment session has been described as a pin prick sensation, though everyone experiences pain differently. Larger treatment areas may be more painful due to their size. Those with a high pain tolerance describe the process as completely bearable, and nearly all patients agree that it is far more tolerable than waxing.

Myth #15: Laser Hair Removal Treatments are Expensive

The cost of laser hair removal (LHR) may scare many people away from its benefits. However, if you consider how much you spend annually on waxing, electrolysis, razors and shaving cream, etc., you quickly realize it saves you money in the long run. The savings that accumulate over time is enough to put a smile on anyone’s face.

Myth #16: Laser Hair Removal is only for Lighter Skin Tones

Darker skin shades absorb more laser than lighter shades. However, this doesn’t mean that hair removal for women and men with dark skin can’t enjoy the benefits of laser hair removal. In some situations, more treatment sessions may be necessary. Your certified laser tech can customize your treatment based on your specific skin type by adjusting the settings on the laser.