Unsightly hair can make both men and women uncomfortable about their appearance, and constant shaving and waxing can be a burden, not to mention the constant irritation. For this reason, Americans seek permanent laser assisted removal at a rate of more than half a million treatments per year.How It's Done
Laser hair removal works when light energy penetrates the skin, converts into heat during penetration, and causes thermal injury to the hair follicle. The high temperature reaches and disables the follicle, effectively inhibiting re-growth. This process can be accomplished only during the growth stage of hair. Because hair grows in cycles and not all follicles are at the same stage at the same time, laser removal is done in sessions in order to achieve the best results.
In some instances a topical anesthesia or numbing cream can be used, but this often not necessary, as pain is minimal. Total surgery can be as short as ten minutes or as long as an hour depending on the size of the area to be treated.Technology
There are many different lasers that have been approved for hair removal. When the FDA grants approval for such lasers, they are approved to permanently reduce hair growth, not permanently remove. This is because hair can re-grow in some cases when it is not treated during the appropriate stage. You can check the approval of a specific laser on the FDA Web site.Recovery / Post Op
After the procedure the treated area may appear slightly red or swollen. This can be remedied with cream or ointment. Return to normal activities can take place immediately, however sun exposure should be avoided. Within the first few weeks, hair will appear in the treated area, this is dead hair that is falling out. The hair can be shaved, but bleaching or waxing should be avoided.Complications
For the most part, laser hair removal is safe and effective. In some instances there can be changes in pigmentation, or blistering, scaring, or burning will occur, however these are almost always temporary.Am I A Candidate
To be considered a candidate, the basic rule of thumb is that your hair must be darker than your skin. The best candidates are fair-skinned individuals with brown or black hair. Blonde, red, or gray hair does not respond as well to laser removal.Cost
The cost of laser hair removal will vary depending on the size of the treated area. The national average surgeon fee for 2003 was $429 per session according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Doctors typically advise that their patients undergo a treatment schedule of four sessions.