Nearly 1 million laser hair removal treatments were performed in the U.S. last year, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). However, new statistics prove that the procedure is becoming even more popular, especially among women.
Cosmetic industry figures find that laser hair removal is the one of the most popular aesthetic procedures for women under the age of 35, and is second only to Botox for women over 35-years-old. As Brazilian bikini styles grow in popularity, more women want to “go bare”, and with the help of laser technology, these styles are not unattainable. Labiaplasty (labial reduction surgery) is also on the rise due to the same trend of going with less body hair.
While electrolysis was once the only way to permanently remove unwanted body hair, laser hair removal has grown in popularity since it was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and introduced to the public over 15 years ago. Many say the results are superior as well. According to a recent survey conducted by Celibre Medical Corporation, 97 percent of women who removed unwanted hair using lasers say they are satisfied with the outcome. This finding is significantly higher than the satisfaction level of those who undergo electrolysis treatments (70 percent).
The laser hair removal procedure utilizes a low energy laser beam that passes through the skin and is attracted to the pigment of the hair. The energy passes down the hair shaft and is absorbed by hair follicles that are in the active growth phase, thereby disabling the hair follicle in the deeper layer of the skin. At the office of Dr. Jennifer Walden in Austin, Texas, we offer Broadband Light treatment, an intense pulsed light energy, to affect the hair follicle and diminish or stop growth with multiple treatments. Dr. Walden and her team of registered nurses, Sarah Shrader and Lauren Pearson, administer laser treatments.
The procedure itself usually just takes several minutes to perform based on the area being treated. However, achieving optimal results requires several sessions, as the laser only targets actively growing hair, and not all hair follicles are active at the same time. Laser hair removal can be performed on any area of the body including the face, legs, underarms, bikini area, back and chest. There are several types of lasers used for laser hair removal.
Bumps, nicks and cuts are all things of the past if you opt for laser hair removal instead of more “old school” methods such as shaving or waxing to attain smooth, silky skin. However, as laser hair removal procedures grow in popularity, consumers must realize it is still a serious procedure with potentially harmful risks and side effects.
According to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS), laser hair removal is more than just “zapping” unwanted hairs. It is a medical procedure that reduces the amount of hair growth through a series of treatments, usually over a period of six to eight weeks and should be performed by a qualified physician.
In an effort to educate consumers about undergoing laser hair removal procedures without complications, the ASDS created the following dos and don’ts guidelines:
-Do consult a qualified physician: Regulations for laser use have not kept up with the demand and consumers should be cautious of non-physicians practicing these procedures in spas/salons. Only a physician who is board-certified in plastic surgery or another specialty with equivalent training and experience should perform this procedure or the physician can designate another trained technician to perform a procedure as long as he/she is under the direct supervision of the physician.
Do ask questions: What kind of lasers do they use? What kind of training or experience do they have? If the person performing the procedure can’t answer these simple questions, you may want to reconsider.
Do undergo a skin test: If there are any apprehensions as to how the laser may interact with the skin, ask for a skin test to ensure there will be no adverse side effects.
Do ensure the technician has experience with different skin types: People of a darker complexion may experience unusual lightening of the skin if an incorrect laser is used at an inappropriate setting.
Don’t tan before or after a procedure: Tanning prior to a treatment can interfere with the absorption of laser light and may cause unusual lightening of the skin. Artificial tanning lotions should also be avoided because the perceived darker pigmentation may also interfere with the absorption of the laser on the skin causing unusual burns and bumps.
Don’t seek laser treatments for blonde or white hairs: Since the laser responds to darker pigmented hair follicles, laser treatments are not as effective in treating lighter hairs. Patients with this type of hair should consider other methods of hair removal.
Don’t undergo laser procedures if you take light-sensitive medication: Some medications may interfere with laser procedures, making the skin more susceptible to burning and scarring. To ensure that your medication won’t interfere with the procedure, consult a physician before undergoing any laser treatment.