Laser Hair Removal
Shaving, plucking, waxing, and using harsh depilatory creams to get rid of unwanted hair is one of life’s true tedious chores. And as soon as you remove the hair, it comes right back in a couple of weeks. If you want to get rid of the hair for good, you need laser hair removal at Vein Center Houston.
What is Laser Hair Removal?
To stop unwanted hair from continually needing shaving or other treatments you need to disable the hair follicles. That’s what laser hair removal does. Laser energy is directed down onto the hairs and down into the hair follicles. There it damages the hair follicle and it can’t grow more hair.
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
Some people mistakenly assume laser hair removal works by the laser somehow zapping the hair. But this would be dangerous and it wouldn’t work because it would only get rid of the visible hair shaft.
This is how it actually works. Our laser technicians at Vein Center Houston set the wavelength of our lasers to match the color of your unwanted hair. Then we direct short pulses of laser energy down onto the hair. The melanin in your hair (what gives the hair and your skin its color) absorbs the laser light energy and that energy instantly converts to heat. The heat travels down the hair shaft into the hair follicle, where the heat damages or destroys the follicle, preventing it from growing hair in the future.
Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent?
The key to successful hair removal is to catch the hair in the anagen (growth) phase of the hair cycle. The problem is that hair can also be in the catagen (transitional phase between growth and rest) or the telogen phase (rest). The catagen and telogen phases involve stopping nourishment to the hair, shedding it, and restarting a new hair shaft. Laser energy doesn’t affect the hair in these phases because they’re already on their way out and being shed by the follicle. The laser energy can’t get into the follicle to damage it. Every hair on the human body is independent and works alone. Considering that the human body has around five million hairs on it (men have a few hundred thousand more than women), that’s a lot of hair follicles to hope to catch in the anagen phase for effective laser removal.
Second, damaged follicles can rebuild with hormonal changes. Plus, if a follicle is only partially damaged, it may heal and begin to regrow hair.
Bottom line, numerous studies show the degree of permanent hair reduction to be from 85 to 90 percent. That’s why the FDA approval for laser hair removal is for “permanent hair reduction.”
Common Body Areas for Laser Hair Removal
At Vein Center Houston, we remove hair all over our patients’ bodies. About the only places where we cannot perform laser hair removal is inside the ears, inside the nostrils, and on the male genitalia. Otherwise anywhere else is fine.
These are the most popular areas for laser hair removal:
- Bikini line
- Upper lip
How Many Laser Hair Removal Sessions Will I Need?
As mentioned above, to be effective the laser energy needs to hit the hair when it is in the anagen/growth phase. All of our hairs operate independently, moving in and out of the three cycles. So, to catch increasing numbers in the growth phase requires multiple laser sessions. At Vein Center Houston, we’ve found that our patients sometimes want different degrees of hair removal, as well. In our experience between six and 10 treatments achieves the degree of hair reduction that satisfies most patients. Each session needs to be spaced from 4-6 weeks apart. Annual maintenance sessions can catch any follicles that were only partially damaged and returned to growing hair.
What Happens After a Laser Hair Removal Session?
You will likely have some redness and slight swelling for a few hours after your treatment. This will only be on the treated areas. We apply a topical steroid and ice to help with post-treatment discomfort.
Your hair won’t fall out immediately, but it will shed over a period of days to weeks. At first, you’ll think this is hair growth, but it’s actually the follicle pushing the hair out and shedding it. This is a sign that the follicle is damaged or destroyed.
Remember, not all of the hair in the treatment area will fall out. The hair that was in the growth phase will, but other hairs that weren’t will still be there. Usually the affected hair will be about 20 percent of the total during that session. That’s why multiple sessions are necessary — to catch more and more hair in the growth phase.
How Long Does a Laser Hair Removal Session Take?
This depends on where you are having hair removed. A small area, such as the upper lip or the sideburns, can be done in just a few minutes. Larger areas, such as the legs or the back, may require an hour.
Does it Hurt to Have Laser Hair Removal?
We apply topical numbing cream to the treatment areas prior to your session. Plus, our laser has a cooling function in the head. Most patients equate the feeling to that of a small rubber band being snapped lightly against the skin, followed by a cooling sensation. Afterwards we apply ice and a topical steroid to lessen any discomfort.
Can Men Have Laser Hair Removal?
The laser energy doesn’t care what sex the hair is — we have lots of male patients at Vein Center Houston. Men are increasingly having their entire chest treated. Others are opting out of daily shaving by having their beards treated. The most common areas men have laser hair removal are the back and shoulders.