What Most Say Laser Hair Removal Feels Like
What IS pain? How does one define this elusive term?
...Ah, yes, the question of whether or not laser hair removal hurts is a highly subjective matter.
On the one hand, the FDA has simplified it for us: they prohibit companies from promoting laser hair removal as “painless,” because, well, it’s not. Hair removal lasers use heat to destroy the hair beneath your skin, so the process certainly won’t go unnoticed.
On the other hand, everyone’s pain threshold is different. Laser hair removal patients tend to report a variety of sensations…a sting, a tickle, a snap (you’ll often read it’s “like a rubber band snapping your skin”), or an ache. But the overwhelming consensus is that the sensation is bearable and worth it. Often compared to discomfort of waxing, many consider the discomfort associated with laser hair removal to be a good thing, because it means thetreatment is working. However, if you feel continued excessive pain, or something that resembles burning, speak up so your technician can adjust your laser settings.
The key is to prepare yourself for some level of discomfort. At best, you’ll be pleasantly relieved to feel nothing and at worst, you’ll be in the right mindset to bear it.
Laser Hair Removal Pain Management: Cooling Devices
While the hair absorbs the laser energy, some heat will be transmitted from the hair shaft, to the surrounding tissue. It lasts for a few milliseconds, but it’s something that you will inevitably feel. Some lasers today are designed with this in mind.
Manufacturers have developed cooling devices that are attached to the tip of the laser. They cool off the surrounding skin in order to absorb the heat that is transmitted from the destroyed hair shaft. No uncomfortable sloppy second heat from these lasers!
Laser Hair Removal Pain Management: Numbing Cream
An anesthetic is not required for laser hair removal, but if you are concerned that you will have trouble with the discomfort, there are prescription numbing creams available through most laser hair removal clinics. Many professionals recommend that you try at least one treatment without it, just to see how you handle this new sensation. It should also be reserved for smaller areas, such as upper lip, bikini, or underarms, and in moderate amounts. If you do opt for a numbing cream, apply it about 1 hour before treatment, and be sure to read the application instructions closely.
How long does each session take?
Laser treatments can take from just a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the size of the area being treated. The area being treated determines the time of each session. A smaller area, such as the bikini or the under arm, can take as little as ten to fifteen minutes, as opposed to the back or leg which can take up to an hour.
How many sessions will I need?
On average, people need between three and five sessions to really see results, meaning about 80% hair reduction in the area treated.
How long should I wait in between sessions?
A person should wait four to six weeks between each session. However, you should know that even if you cannot see the hair, it can still be actively growing beneath the skin and the laser can find and remove the hair follicle successfully. Facial hair should be treated more often than other areas.
Am I a candidate for laser hair removal?
There is an ideal skin tone and hair color for laser hair removal, but that does not mean everyone else is excluded. The ideal candidate for laser hair removal is someone with fair skin, and darker, coarser, hair. You should avoid tanning or sunburn prior to the procedure. The most unsuccessful candidates for laser hair removal are those with red or blonde hair and darker skin tones. Fill out our on-line Free Instant Consultation questionnaire to find out if you are a candidate.
According to the Mayo Clinic, patients can return to their normal activities immediately after laser hair removal treatments, although exercise should be avoided for the first 24 hours. The patient should also avoid sun exposure for several weeks after treatment as the skin may be more sensitive while healing. During this healing period patients should wash the treated area gently during showers and baths to avoid any irritation.
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