How Laser Hair Removal (aka ‘Permanent Hair Reduction’) Works
While planning out possible growth areas for Complexions in 2009, I certainly didn’t think laser hair removal would be near the top of the list. And yet, here we are nine months later, and business, as they say, is booming. Why such growth? Can’t say for certain just yet but perhaps after 14 years of performing the service, our experience and level of expertise is finally beginning to set us apart from the rest of the hair reduction pack? Or maybe the biggest driver is an increase in positive word of mouth from very happy clients, as demonstrated by the responses to a recent Kristi Gustafson Times Union Blog article asking her readers to opine on who has the best hair removal center in the area? What about the less-than-awesome economy? I’d wager quite a few women would find their total waxing bill over the past 5 years less than ideal – does the long term ROI on laser make waxing seem like an overly-expensive bubble-era indulgence?? We’ll find out soon enough I hope (customer survey ftw!) but for now, I’m happy to chalk it up to lots of little things done right, which when added up together, make a big enough difference to break out into our mainstream customer base. With that said… back to how laser hair removal works :)
Permanent hair reduction is founded upon the principle of selective photothermolysis. This is a method by which hair is damaged or destroyed using a specific amount of light energy or wavelength. This energy is absorbed by the melanin or dark color pigment of the hair, which then destroys the hair follicle impeding further growth. This has been performed experimentally for more than 20 years before becoming commercially available in the mid 1990’s. Today our IPL method is FDA approved for “permanent hair reduction” (n.b. only electrolysis is approved for “permanent hair removal”).
At Complexions Spa, Laser Hair Reduction is performed by certified laser specialists. We use the Candela GentleLASE system which features a patented Dynamic Cooling Device (DCD™) where cryogen is sprayed onto the skin, cooling the upper layers and providing increased comfort and protection for our clients.
Before performing the procedure at Complexions, we first have to shave the hair from the areas to be treated. This can also be done at home the day before arrival. To protect both your eyes and the technician’s, special eye protection is worn from start to finish. The laser settings will be set for your appropriate skin type needs depending on the Fitzpatrick Classification (ie. skin’s tolerance of sunlight). In some cases a test spot may be done before you have the full treatment performed. The test spots may be done to ensure that the laser is set correctly and that your skin does not react negatively to the laser treatment.
The procedure feels like a snapping on the skin and usually takes only a few minutes on a smaller area such as the upper lip or even the underarm or bikini line area. Immediately following the treatment, you may have a slight sunburn sensation that typically last only a few hours. We provide a cool compress and a soothing cream following the procedure. The after care simply requires the application of a soothing cream and sun protection.
Because the hair grows in three different cycles and we have hair in each of these phases at any given time, multiple treatments are necessary. We recommend treatments on the face be spaced approximately 4 weeks apart while those on the body should be spaced approximately 6 weeks apart.
Common areas to be treated include the face, underarms, bikini area, legs, forearms, shoulders, backs (male mostly ;), abdomen, the male neckline, under the chin or at the nape of his neck. LHR also effectively treats pseudofolliculitis barbae (otherwise known as ingrown hairs or “razor-rash”).
In closing, after more than 14 years in the hair removal business, I’m happy to report that today’s lasers offer a wonderful option for those looking to eliminate hair from unwanted areas with a lot less pain then electrolysis (which while permanent, can sometimes require 15-30 visits for best results). That said, we do not tell anyone that it will remove every single hair for ever and ever. Instead, we tell our clients that they may need a few touch up treatments annually. There are things such as hormones, age, pregnancy, stress and medications that can influence future hair growth. As always, each case is unique, so if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at the spa.
I serve on and support several community charity committees as I believe it’s important to give back. In my spare time I love hiking and fishing in the Adirondacks, equestrian sports and thoroughbreds, fine wine, skiing, golf, and traveling to distant locations. I also love early mornings in the gym exercising, pilates, my dog, cooking, and sharing time with my husband and two children, good friends and family.