Ready for a Hair-Free Summer?

The warm weather is rapidly approaching. For many of us, shedding our heavy winter clothes also means it’s time to get ready for bathing suit season. Excessive hair in undesired locations is a problem for both men and women. For women, summertime often means frequent shaving which can leave the skin bumpy and irritated. Men, although permitted a certain amount of hairiness, are still considered unattractive if they have excessive hair on their back. Laser Hair Removal is one of the most effective methods for long-term removal of unwanted hair. Many people will see up to six months of hairlessness in the treated areas. Most laser systems can produce up to 75-90% reduction in hair after a series of treatments when performed by an experienced laser surgeon.

Posted on | Elizabeth Tanzi, MD | Comments ()

The warm weather is rapidly approaching. For many of us, shedding our heavy winter clothes also means it’s time to get ready for bathing suit season. Excessive hair in undesired locations is a problem for both men and women. For women, summertime often means frequent shaving which can leave the skin bumpy and irritated. Men, although permitted a certain amount of hairiness, are still considered unattractive if they have excessive hair on their back. Laser Hair Removal is one of the most effective methods for long-term removal of unwanted hair. Many people will see up to six months of hairlessness in the treated areas. Most laser systems can produce up to 75-90% reduction in hair after a series of treatments when performed by an experienced laser surgeon.


How Laser Hair Removal Works

Laser hair removal works by selectively targeting hair follicles. When a certain type of laser light hits the skin, it is attracted to the color in the hair root. This causes the hair follicles to heat up more rapidly than the surrounding tissue and suffer more heat damage.  As a result, the hair is selectively heated without damage to the surrounding skin. During treatment, there is a snapping sensation that can be reduced by topical anesthetic cream. After treatment, the treated area is red and bumpy for several hours, but is not uncomfortable. Most patients can resume their regular activities immediately.


Advantages of treatment

Laser hair removal has many advantages over traditional methods of hair removal such as shaving or waxing. Since the results are very long-lasting or in some cases, permanent, much less time is spent on maintaining the smooth, hair-free look. It also reduces painful ingrown hairs caused by shaving and waxing. Laser hair removal is one of the most successful treatments in my practice, with over 95% of patients reporting a very high satisfaction rate with treatment.


Disadvantages of treatment

Although laser hair removal works quite well, it is more expensive than other methods of hair removal. Also, some patients will require maintenance treatments (once a year or every 6 months) to keep their skin smooth. The risk of side effects is very low with today’s advanced lasers, but to minimize complications, it is best to avoid sun several weeks before and after the treatment. Laser hair removal works best on light-skinned people with dark hair. Patients with skin of color can be successfully treated; however, it’s best to seek out a laser expert for evaluation since the procedure can have a higher risk of discoloration when performed by inexperienced technicians. Blonde, gray, and white hair (due to the lack of color) will not respond to treatment.


The Bottom Line

Laser Hair Removal is the most effective way to remove hair and people are usually thrilled with their results, but the treatment is not without disadvantages. Multiple treatments are required for the best response, and then maintenance treatments may be needed.  It’s important to seek out a qualified laser surgeon with extensive expertise to ensure the safest, most effective treatment.

Blog written by Elizabeth Tanzi, MD
Dr. Tanzi, Co-Director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington, DC, is an internationally...