Have you ever stood in the shower and wished you didn’t have to shave? Or stood before the mirror and wished you didn’t have to pluck or wax? At O’Donnell Vein & Laser in Annapolis and Easton, MD, we know these moments because we, too, have lived them. And we believe laser hair removal is a far easier alternative to other methods.
How Many Sessions Do You Need?
Because this is a question on the minds of most patients, we are eager to give you the best possible answer – and that is, it depends. First and foremost, everyone grows hair differently in terms of rate and amount. Perhaps your mother grows hair more quickly than you, or maybe your best friend’s hair grows more thickly.
The point is, we take both of these factors into consideration when determining the number of treatments you will need. The goal is to eliminate all unwanted hair within a treatment site, and for this reason, we’ll schedule multiple sessions that meet your hair growth cycles and density. Therefore, the number of sessions you need will likely differ from those of another patient.
Your Treatment Site
Another consideration is where you want your hair removed. The most common treatment sites include:
- Bikini line
- Brazilian area
- Facial parts
We typically recommend between four and six sessions. Eight are occasionally necessary, but this is rare. We space each session according to hair growth, so we are able to achieve total removal. But don’t worry – you’ll see and feel fewer hairs after each session, meaning you’ll progress as you go along.
Your Desired Results
We perform laser hair removal on men and women, and they commonly have different treatment goals. Most women want their hair completely gone within a specific site; men, on the other hand, may only want to reduce their hairs to ease the burden of shaving. This allows them to keep their facial hair, such as a goatee or beard, without devoting as much time to maintenance.
Your goals, therefore, also influence the number of sessions you will need. A man might need one or two, while a woman who wants to eliminate hair on her legs will likely need four. But, again, you’ll see results after each session so you can focus less on hair removal and more on life’s other demands.
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
This therapy delivers concentrated light directly to hair follicles. It’s helpful to think of follicles as small cavities within the skin that sprout hair. The lasers are sensitive to color, meaning they are attracted to hair melanin pigment and subsequently get absorbed by the follicle.
As this happens, the light is converted to heat and essentially kills the hair follicle. Shortly after treatment, hair falls out because it can no longer be sustained. The follicle, meanwhile, is permanently altered and cannot grow additional hair.
Almost All Patients Can Benefit
It’s true that darker hair is ideally suited to this treatment because it contains more melanin than light hair. Blond hair, for instance, reflects light, while black hair absorbs it. The laser also detects hair follicles more easily on light skin; the contrast between dark hair and light skin provides a perfect canvas. But new laser developments make it possible to treat a wider variety of skin tones, including darker-skinned people.
Similarly, people with lighter hair can undergo laser removal. They may require additional sessions, but we’re happy to craft a treatment plan that safely meets your beauty goals. If for some reason we cannot treat you with laser, we’ll suggest viable alternatives.
A Safety Discussion
This brings us to an important point of safety. Testing for this treatment began in the 1960s, with the first commercial therapy available in the 1990s. Since that time, it has earned FDA approval and has been proven to damage hair roots without harming surrounding tissues. This keeps skin completely safe from burns or other damage.
After treatment, many patients feel laser is safer than at-home techniques used to remove hair. It doesn’t come with the risks of cuts and nicks like a razor, and it won’t irritate the skin in the way chemical-laden depilatory creams do. Waxing can similarly pull away the top layer of skin, and tweezing can bruise and cause swelling.
One of the great advantages associated with this treatment is no recovery period. You don’t need to alter your schedule or take time off from work. Our one recommendation that doesn’t waiver is to avoid direct sunlight and indoor tanning equipment. We may provide you with additional steps to follow, as they relate to your personal needs, but you’ll likely be able to resume normal activities right after treatment.
How Your Hair Grows
We’ve all heard hair growth tips to help our tresses reach untold length and thickness. But in places of unwanted hair, the only goal is to stop growth. We thought it might therefore be useful to know about the growing process so you can understand how your laser hair removal sessions will be scheduled.
Each hair contains two parts: the follicle (as we already discussed) and shaft. The follicle holds hair in place, while the shaft is the individual hair strand that you see. From growth to shedding, every hair undergoes three stages:
This marks the start of hair growth, when individual strands are visible above the skin. For this reason, the anagen phase is the most ideal for hair removal. However, only 20 percent of body hairs are in this stage at any given time. Once hair does reach the anagen phase, it can stay there for up to four months.
This is the time between hair growth and rest. It poses a problem for removal because hairs shed once they stop growing. Additionally, the bulb is pushed upward at this time as the papilla (a structure near the follicle base) prepares for another growth cycle. This prevents the laser from reaching the follicle, where targeted treatment stops future hair growth.
Also called the resting stage, this marks a period of dormancy. Hair is not developing or growing, and the follicle is similarly at rest. While we know the anagen phase lasts several months, and the catagen lasts just a few days, the telogen is less predictable. Hair at this point eventually falls out, but it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when that will happen. This is another period when hair cannot be removed.
Reasons to Have this Treatment
You probably don’t even realize how much time you spend at home trying to remove unwanted hair. And what happens every time? Those hairs grow back so that you have to continually repeat the cycle.
Laser hair removal actually puts an end to fruitless efforts. This means you save time that would otherwise be spent on daily shaving, plucking, and even waxing. Not only are these actions time-consuming, but you also must prepare for them – especially waxing, as you go every month for your regular appointment. Imagine freedom from these tasks and still enjoying silky smooth skin.
We know you have a lot to do, and adding one more task to your schedule might seem impossible. But laser treatments are quick, probably quicker than you expect. We can do the underarms or Brazilian area in about 20 minutes. The upper lip takes just a few minutes, while larger areas can be completed in about an hour.
The secret is in the laser, which treats many hairs with each pulse. Each second of treatment can reach an area about the size of a quarter. This means you can be in and out of treatment relatively quickly.
Once you’re free of having to buy razors, shaving cream, and depilatory creams – not to mention those waxing appointments – you’ll see this treatment is very cost-effective. You’ll save money in the long run and see superior results.
No More Ingrown Hairs
This is one of the most painful conditions when it comes to the skin. Unfortunately, ingrown hairs frequently happen with waxing and shaving. The best way to prevent them is with laser treatment. This therapy is also ideal for those with sensitive skin, as razors can cause rashes and waxing can cause severe reactions.
Free to Shave
Waxing and other techniques require you to have hair growth for the treatment to work. This means you have to endure a period where you have scratchy, unwanted hair growth just so it can be removed. With laser, you’re free to shave between sessions so you can always enjoy smooth skin. You’re actually encouraged to shave shortly before a laser session so hair doesn’t scorch.
We’ve learned that cosmetic treatments usually have myths attached to them, and the laser is no exception. Here, we reveal the truth so you can see this treatment for what it really is: uncomplicated, beneficial, and surprisingly quick.
This Technique Is Painful
Thanks to new technology, this treatment is nearly pain-free. We can add numbing agents and moisturizing serums to your therapy so you enjoy total comfort throughout. We already mentioned a period of zero recovery after treatment, and hair sheds naturally and painlessly once the follicle is dead. So, in truth, this non-invasive therapy is much more tolerable than many patients think.
Hair Grows Back Thicker
This seems to be a popular myth with all removal techniques, but we can assure you it’s not true. While every person has unique hair growth patterns, laser can and does universally destroy hair follicles.
Those that are left behind because of where you are in the growth cycle (mentioned earlier) won’t produce thicker hair. Instead, your hair will simply grow as normal, and we’ll be able to target those spots during your next session.
You Can’t Get Laser During Warm Weather
Here’s the reality: a tan may prevent our staff from using a stronger setting during your session, so you’ll either need to wait for your treatment or have a few extra sessions. We can discuss this during your consultation. But rest assured you can have this treatment anytime throughout the year, including during warm months.
We do caution, however, that you remember the combined effects of sun and laser can cause serious skin damage. For this reason, we recommend you stay out of the sun for at least 72 hours before and after your sessions. If you’re going to be outside during these times, wear sunscreen and keep skin covered with clothing or hats.
Simplify Your Life
Life is messy enough, beauty regimens shouldn’t have to be. Laser hair removal can take the angst out of achieving smoother, healthier skin. It saves time and money and is safe for a variety of patients. Call O’Donnell Vein & Laser today to learn more.