Laser Hair Removal
The use of lasers for hair removal has now become routine. Because of its permanence and efficiency as compared to other methods of hair removal, such as shaving, waxing, electrolysis or depilatory creams, laser hair removal has become one of the most popular cosmetic procedures. Unwanted hair almost anywhere on the body, including the face, upper lip, chest, back, arms, legs, and bikini line can be effectively and safely removed with laser treatment. Our plastic surgeon, Robert Rothfield, MD, and his staff use the latest laser technology, employing both Nd:Yag and Alexandrite lasers depending upon the patients skin type, to optimize permanent hair reduction in those patients who desire laser hair removal. By directing the laser light energy to the melanin in the hair shaft, the hair follicle is selectively destroyed while leaving the surrounding tissue unharmed. Unlike electrolysis, which removes hair one at a time, the laser can reach many hair follicles at once.
At any given time, a hair follicle will be in one of three growth cycles. Because the laser only affects those hairs in the active growth phase, patients will require several treatments at regular monthly intervals to get the best results. The ideal time for repeat treatment is when the hair begins to regrow. This will be different for different areas of the body. For the face, armpit, and bikini regrowth usually takes one to two months. For the back and legs it may be two to three months. Patients with dark hair will have consistently better results than patients with red, grey or blond hair.
Prior to treatment, patients should stay out of the sun and should begin treatment without a tan. Patients should not pluck, wax or have electrolysis in the treated area for at least six weeks prior to laser treatment. Patients with a history of herpes simplex 1 or 2 will require oral antiviral medication (Zovirax® or Famvir®) starting the day prior to the laser treatment. This is important so as to avoid the reactivation of the herpes virus. Patients using Accutane® should stop their Accutane® at least 6 months prior to treatment.
Following the laser treatment, swelling and redness is expected. The sunburned feeling and swelling usually lasts for one to three hours. The application of ice can provide relief and will also work to reduce any swelling. The redness following the laser can persist for several days and can easily be covered by makeup. Occasionally, several days after treatment it may appear as though the hair is regrowing. The hair is not regrowing. These are actually carbonized hair casts of the hair follicle that has been treated. These casts will be shed without any treatment or can easily be pulled out with tweezers.