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Laser Hair Removal

Unwanted hair growth is a common aesthetic problem. A variety of hair removal options are available including plucking, shaving, waxing, chemical depilators, electrolysis and laser and light systems. Laser and intense pulsed light (IPL) are the best options for long-term hair reduction. Laser hair removal eliminates ingrown hairs, irritation from shaving and waxing, and reduces day-to-day hair removal maintenance! 

How does laser hair removal work?

The laser eliminates unwanted hair by emitting a beam of light at specific wave lengths onto the hair follicles in the skin. It targets the pigment (melanin) within the hair follicle and hair shaft in the growth phase.  The light is absorbed by the pigment in the follicles and converts to heat, damaging the follicles and inhibiting future hair growth.

How effective is laser hair removal?

The effectiveness of laser hair removal varies depending on several factors, including the area being treated, the thickness and color of the hair, and the skin type. Thus, various lasers are available to address these factors. Some treat lighter skin types with dark hair, some are better for lighter hair, some are better for darker hair, and some are better for darker skin. 

How many treatments are needed?

There are three stages of a hair growth cycle, the anagen phase, the catagen phase, and the telogen phase.  During the anagen phase, also known as the “growing phase,” the hair is growing and has visible pigment.  Only about 20 percent of body hair is in the actively growing phase at any given time, which is the period when lasers can be used to target these hair follicles.

The hair is only sensitive to laser treatment during the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle; therefore, multiple treatments will be necessary to address all hair follicles when they are most sensitive to treatment. Typically treatment recommendations consist of 4 to 6 sessions spaced 4 to 6 weeks as the minimum required to achieve adequate results. Subsequently, patients may need maintenance treatments once every 6 to 12 months as small vellus hair (peach fuzz) may grow back.

What areas can be treated?

  • Underarm hair
  • Bikini line
  • Face
  • Chest
  • Abdomen
  • Back

Your consultation

During your consultation with Dr. Michael Rains, he will take a detailed history and listen to your concerns and goals. He will evaluate your skin and hair to choose the right laser for you and will counsel you on what to expect and how to prepare.

Laser hair removal is generally not recommended for individuals with:

  • Active infections in the area to be treated
  • History of keloid formation
  • Certain medical conditions or medications that make the skin sensitive to light

Preparing for the procedure

Patients should avoid plucking or waxing for six weeks before the procedure. The areas to be treated will be shaved to allow a slight stubble to develop before the procedure. Prior to the procedure, Dr. Rains may perform a patch test to determine the most effective laser and energy settings.

During the procedure

During the procedure, both the patient and the provider will wear protective eye gear. A topical anesthetic will be applied to minimize discomfort. The laser device will then be adjusted according to the specific requirements, and the area to be treated will be exposed to the laser light.

After the procedure

After the procedure, patients are advised to avoid sun exposure and use sunblock with a high SPF rating. Cooling agents like aloe vera may be recommended to alleviate minor irritation. Dr. Rains will provide complete pre and post treatment instructions.

What does treatment feel like?

Patients typically report the treatment feels like snapping rubber bands.

What are the potential risks and side effects?

Common side effects include redness, swelling and temporary skin irritation.

When you are tired of the hassle of shaving, tweezing, and waxing, laser hair removal might be a great option for you. Contact Dr. Rains at Beacon Dermatology in Asheville, North Carolina to schedule a consultation to learn more.

Dr. Michael Rains is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Beacon Dermatology in Asheville, North Carolina. His approach to aesthetic and dermatological treatments are holistically focused on revealing and enhancing a patient’s natural beauty. Dr. Rains is known for his caring and compassionate approach to medicine, listening to his patients’ concerns and goals and ensuring they receive excellent care and education to ensure they can make informed decisions about their treatments.

At a Glance

Michael Rains, MD, FAAD

  • Board certified in dermatology
  • Specializing in medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology
  • Author of multiple peer-reviewed publications and previous adjunct faculty at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin
  • Learn more

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