“Treating people, not just problems ” since 1989.
John L. Pfenninger, M.D.
Salena Dodman, R.N.
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LASER HAIR REMOVAL
What is laser hair removal? It is a method of removing unwanted hair. Using a laser, energy is targeted to the hair follicle (hair root) causing heat damage. The follicle is what grows hair. The hair growth center is destroyed thereby preventing further growth of unwanted hair.
How does the Light Sheer laser work? The darker a tissue is, the more the laser energy is absorbed. The pigment in the hair absorbs the laser energy the most. This damages the hair follicle and does not allow it to function. The skin which is usually lighter than the hair does not absorb the energy, so it is not harmed. The most ideal situation is to have dark hair and light skin. It is very difficult to destroy light hair, and dark hair on darker skin.
Is the hair removal permanent? Damage to the hair follicle can remove unwanted hair permanently. However, because of the nature of hair and many other factors that influence the growth of hair, the results are variable. The effects of multiple treatments are cumulative, and most people experience long-term hair removal.
How many treatments are needed? Only hair that is in the growing phase can be destroyed. Different cycles in follicle growth make it impossible to destroy all hair in one treatment. Different areas of the body also grow hair differently. Think of how fast it grows on the face but how slowly on the legs and arms. That is why it takes more than one session to achieve a good result. Skin type, hair color, and hair texture will also affect the number of treatments required for optimal results. In general then, taking all this into consideration, it takes three to five treatments to achieve significant hair removal. More treatments may be necessary, however.
How long does the procedure take? The amount of time required depends on the extent of the area being treated. For example, an upper lip may take less than a half hour, while a longer period of time will be required to treat the back or legs (sometimes 60 – 90 minutes).
Is it painful? No treatment to remove unwanted hair is completely painless. Patients who have undergone waxing or electrolysis can attest to the pain caused by commonly used methods of hair removal. The Light Sheer laser provides mild discomfort compared to these other methods of hair removal. It has been described as a very brief stinging, or like a rubber band snapping against the skin when the laser light is triggered. Our laser system has a patented cooling device that helps protect the skin during the delivery of the laser energy and reduces the discomfort to the surrounding skin. There is a topical anesthetic gel available and this will be discussed at your consultation appointment.
What will the treated area look like after the procedure? Immediately after treatment, the site will be slightly red in color and feel like a mild sunburn. This reaction usually subsides over a few hours, after which the treated site returns to its normal appearance.
What complications have been associated with treatment? In addition to short term discomfort, redness, and sometimes swelling, rarely patients may experience blistering or transient color (pigment) changes in the skin. Treated areas may turn a little darker or, even more rarely, a little lighter. This usually resolves on its own but may take 1-2 months. Proper patient selection and pre-treatment can greatly minimize these complications. Patients who carry the herpes simplex virus (causes cold sores) and have treatment on their upper lip, chin, or lower cheeks may have a flare-up of their condition. The risk of this complication can be reduced if the patient takes antiviral medication for a few days before and after each treatment. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have recurrent cold sores.
What should I do before the visit? Avoid sun or tanning 4-6 weeks prior to treatment for the best result. If you have tanned recently, you cannot undergo laser hair removal. There is a danger of over-heating the treatment area because of darker pigment in the skin. Let your hair grow for 1-2 days in the place you want to receive treatment. Do not wax or tweeze any hair for 4-6 weeks prior to treatment. However, patients may shave or bleach hair in between treatments.
Will I be treated on the first visit? You may or may not have a full treatment at your first visit. Skin color, medications you’re taking, recent sun exposure, etc. must all be considered. Test spots can always be done, but a complete treatment may need to be scheduled a week or so after the initial test spots which will be done at your consultation visit.