Laser hair removal procedure
Before the procedure, a medical specialist (a physician, physician assistant, or registered nurse) cleans the treatment area. If the area is particularly sensitive, numbing gel can be applied. During the procedure, everyone in the room needs to wear special protective eyewear to prevent eye damage from the laser.
Once the numbing gel kicks in, the medical specialist focuses a beam of high-energy light at the desired area. The bigger the area you would like treated, the longer the procedure takes. Small areas can take as little as a couple of minutes while larger areas such as the chest can take an hour or more.
Some patients report a sensation similar to a rubber band snapping or a sunburn-like sting. As the hair vaporizes from the energy of the laser, there can be a sulfurous smell from the smoke puffs.
How does laser hair removal work?
Laser hair removal works by using concentrated light to affect hair follicles, which are small cavities in the skin from which hair grows. The hair follicle absorbs the laser, which is attracted to the hair’s melanin pigment, and the hair vaporizes instantly.
The pigment in the hair attracts the laser, so darker hair absorbs the laser more effectively, which is why people with dark hair and light skin are ideal candidates for laser hair removal.
Patients with dark skin typically need to be treated with a special type of laser that detects the hair against their skin.
Those with light hair make less ideal candidates, and they are also less likely to experience drastic results as the laser doesn’t focus well on nonpigmented hair. Laser hair removal is not effective on blonde, gray, or white hairs.