Does Laser Hair Removal Really Work?

laser-hair-removal-side-effectsBack in 2003 when I was just beginning my educational foray into aesthetic medicine, I was encouraged to perform laser hair removal on myself. That way, I could witness the process firsthand and thus provide valuable information to my patients about the experience. I would inform the staff whenever I was ready to perform these treatments, then would sequester myself in the laser treatment room and conduct these treatments without any pre-procedure anesthesia.

I used an Nd:Yag laser back then which is generally less effective than a diode laser in treating hair follicles, but I only had access to that type of laser at that time. I treated my underarms, legs and tried to do my bikini line (more on that later). Did the procedure hurt? YES. It felt like red hot rubber band stings all over the areas treated, and some spots literally took my breath away. But I was so determined to get rid of the hair that I toughed it out.

The area in which I got the best results, and which generally yields the best results for patients in general, was the underarm region. To this day I have about 6 hair follicles on each underarm which produce hair, and the hair is so fine, wispy, pale in color and slow growing that I resort to plucking them out every 6 to 8 weeks. Talk about low maintenance! I also no longer have the shadow which hair growth in the underarms produces.

My legs were less responsive, mainly due to the fact that my skin was tan during the entire series. Ideal laser hair removal patients have dark hair and light skin, but this was certainly not the case with me. Even so, I had about an 80% reduction in the amount of active hair follicles.

Then there was my bikini line. It is difficult to perform an intensely painful treatment on oneself without wanting to discontinue such treatment, and this was certainly the case with me when I attempted to treat this area! As a result of my inability to tolerate self-treatment in the bikini line, I am now undergoing a new series of laser hair removal treatments in the bikini area, this time with a diode laser and someone else performing the procedures. I have had two treatments thus far and am already enjoying about a 30% reduction of active hair follicles.

For those of you who are considering laser hair removal, you can expect to undergo 4 to 8 treatments, spaced anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks apart depending on the laser used and the area treated. Each treatment tends to cause about a 15-20% reduction in the amount of hair, and the hair that regrows will grow more slowly over time. The endpoint usually yields about a 95% reduction in hair regrowth.

I think laser hair removal is a great option for just about everyone!

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