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The Pros and Cons of Laser Hair Removal

Posted Nov 04 2011 2:01am

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Today’s guest post is on the pros and cons of laser hair removal .

Laser hair removal is the latest and most advanced method designed to permanently reduce and eliminate unwanted hair on your face and body. It harnesses advanced technology to cut down on procedure time, expedite recovery and minimize adverse side effects. Yes, there are side effects, as is the case with any medical procedure, but they’re limited to very temporary redness, sensitivity and dryness. Your skin will also be very sensitive to light, which is why you’ll need to protect your skin when you go out religiously.

There are several laser hair removal technologies, but they all work on the same premise: a device delivers laser energy to the unwanted hair. This laser energy penetrates each hair strand right to the root, where it damages the follicle. Doing so disables the follicle and prevents it from producing new hair. Although there are so many laser hair removal devices out there, some work better with certain hair/ skin types. For example, many patients have found that Sciton works well with finer hair, while Lyra Nd:Yag works well with darker hair and lighter skin. One system that works great on all types is elos from Syneron, because it combines laser with bi- polar radiofrequency energy. The only caveat is that the technology works on hair that is actively growing (anagen phase), and since the strands of a single patch of hair aren’t all in this phase, you’ll need another session scheduled at a different time to target them. Each session ranges in time depending on the size of the area, and can be anywhere from 10 minutes (for the upper lip) to 4 hours (for the whole body).   So how does laser hair removal compare to other methods?

Think about how many times you need to shave in one week, especially in the summer when you’re flashing more skin. Is it twice a week? Every other day? Everyday? No matter how much you shave, there will always, most definitely, be more hair in a couple of days. Shaving is convenient, but you could be spending all of that time on something you actually enjoy doing, instead of wasting it on de-hairing yourself.

Verdict: Laser hair removal gets you permanent results and though each session may last longer than shaving, the overall amount of time you spend will be far, far less.

Let’s be honest, ladies – who actually enjoys waxing? This method is, by far, the messiest of all. Is a couple of weeks of hairlessness worth slathering hot melted wax on your skin, waiting until it cools, then ripping it off? Ouch!

Verdict: Laser hair removal wins once again, for achieving permanent results for less the effort. Plus, it’s less messy and isn’t so sadistic!

This one’s a better match since both achieve permanent results. But consider how each treatment is performed: electrolysis requires needle probes to be inserted into every hair follicle you want to target. This makes a session long, uncomfortable and painful. On the other hand, laser hair removal can effectively treat large areas since a single emission of laser energy can target multiple hair follicles all at one time. Exposure has been described as being much like a small rubber band being snapped against the skin while the sensation from electrolysis has been described as “a bunch of little needles being stuck into your skin”. Granted, the level of discomfort experienced during a laser hair removal session does increase for more sensitive areas (e.g. pubic area) and when the hair strands gets finer and less numerous, but still, it doesn’t feel like needles!

Verdict: Though both achieve great results, laser hair removal proves itself as the superior method because it’s less painful and less time consuming.

Talk to your aesthetic medical provider about laser hair removal. It might be the perfect way to de-hair. Many places even offer free test patches, so you can get a better understanding of the treatment. If you decide to go for it, you’ll probably be looking at about 6-8 sessions minimum to achieve the best results, plus touchups performed a couple of times a year after that just to get any new hair growth (unfortunately, most women do get hairier as they age). Small areas, like the upper lip, cost about $50-$120/session, while larger areas like the back or entire leg are $325-$500. This is a really broad price range, and you’ll definitely get a better deal if you buy more than one session at once, in a package deal.

Cindy Clark is a medical staff writer for Skin Vitality one of Canada’s largest aesthetic medical providers.  She has also served as a Medical Consultant for the clinic.

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