Web Producer: Brad Maglinger
The ideal candidate for laser hair removal is a fair skinned individual with dark hair. Lucky for them, that's who's most likely to have it done.
There is no treatment that removes all hair forever. This is the closest thing, but it doesn't happen overnight. April Baumeyer never considered laser hair removal until she hurt her arm in a car wreck, making it hard to shave under her arms.
During laser hair removal, a spray cools down the epidermal layer of the skin before the laser pulses. It's energy is then transformed into heat which disables the hair follicle without harming the surrounding skin. "It kind of reminds me of getting your ear pierced. It's a little sting, but as soon as she puts her finger on it, it goes away," explained Baumeyer.
The laser likes contrast, such as dark hair on light skin. Otherwise, it may leave light or dark patches on the skin. And you don't have to let the hair grow out beforehand.
Laser technician Kris Culbertson said, "The laser energy works in the hairs that are in the anagen stage of growth. So, the hair growth cycle grows in three different stages at all times. So, that's why this is not a one-time treatment."
Hair that's lying dormant will get zapped next time around. All patients require at least two to three treatments, anywhere from one to two months apart. In the meantime, patients may wonder what's going on. "It almost appears as if the hair is starting to grow, but it's just starting to fall out of that hair follicle mouth," explained Culbertson.
Shaving is still necessary for April for a few more weeks. Then the hair will fall out completely. For most patients, that redness and swelling goes away in two hours. And they can shave 24 hours later.
That may not be the case for people who take certain kinds of medication that make them more sensitive to light, such as acne medication or St. John's Wort. So those patients would need a different type of laser.