Men and women alike spend a lot of time removing hair from their bodies. Whether it’s waxing, shaving, or tweezing the hair on their face, legs or back, everyone puts varying levels of effort into it. If you find these activities to be a chore, laser hair removal can make your morning routine a little less laborious.

How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?

Laser hair removal is among the most frequently performed cosmetic procedures in the country. It involves shining concentrated beams of light onto hair follicles for a fraction of a second. Skin pigment absorbs the light from the laser, which inhibits future hair growth. Laser treatments are effective at removing hair from the face, limbs, underarm, bikini line, and elsewhere. It’s possible to target only darker, coarser hairs by adjusting the light beam’s intensity. A single pulse of light can treat several hairs simultaneously.

Smaller spots, like the area above the lip, can be treated in just under a minute, but larger areas of the body can take up to an hour. Because individual hairs are at different points in their lifecycle, you will need multiple treatments for optimal results.

Some patients achieve permanent hair loss in as few as three sessions, while others may need seven or more. Once the desired results are achieved, you will still need annual touchups to prevent hair from coming back. Due to the nature of laser therapy, darker hair is easier to get rid of while blonde and gray hairs tend to linger.

For best results, you should refrain from plucking, waxing, and electrolysis for six weeks prior to your first session. Additionally, you should limit your exposure to sunlight during this time and for the six weeks following treatment.

Before treatment can begin, your hair may need to be trimmed closer to the surface of your skin. You will have to wear special glasses that shield your eyes from the intense laser light. The technician will then adjust the settings of the laser to best suit your skin and hair type. Next, they will apply a gel that protects your skin while allowing the laser light to pierce through your hair follicles. Finally, they will begin by treating a small area and waiting for a few minutes to check for adverse reactions. After making any necessary adjustments to the equipment settings, the session can safely begin.

After the procedure, you may be supplied with ice packs or anti-inflammatory cream. The treated hair will gradually fall out over the next few weeks, but you will still notice hairs popping up in the treated area at first. You should see progressive improvement with each session. Your skin will need four to six weeks to heal before the next treatment.

Your skin will feel sunburned for a couple of days. Using a cool compresses or moisturizers can help alleviate any discomfort. You should also wear sunblock on the area to protect your skin from temporary discoloration.

Blisters, swelling, redness, and scarring are also risks of laser hair removal, but permanent skin damage is very rare. People with dark complexions are more prone to skin irritation from laser treatments. You should be able to apply makeup the following day so long as there’s no blistering.

How Long Does It Last? Is It Painful?

Laser hair removal isn’t permanent, but you can effectively halt hair growth for six to twelve months at a time. After your initial round of treatments, you will just have to come back for occasional touchups. Therefore, it’s important to find a technician who you are comfortable working with for a long time.

The laser feels hot against the skin, and you may smell your hair burning, but the procedure itself isn’t painful. Most of the discomfort comes afterward.

How Much Does It Cost?

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons estimates an average cost of $429 per session, but individual prices and total costs for laser hair removal vary greatly depending on a few factors including:

– the size of the treatment area
– the number of necessary treatments
– the area you live in

Underarm treatments may be as low as $200-$300. While treatments in the bikini area may run between $300-500, larger regions like the back or legs can cost upward of $900 per session in some places. Chest treatments typically range between $350-$600. Face and neck hair removal can cost as much as treating the legs or back because of the sensitive nature of that area. Nonetheless, if you’re used to spending money on waxing and other types of hair removal, getting laser treatments can save you money in the long run.

Insurance plans typically don’t cover laser hair removal since it’s considered an elective surgery. Most treatment centers require payment prior to each session, but some places may offer financing plans.

What to Look for in a Laser Hair Removal Center

Laser hair removal treatment isn’t something that you can just get on a whim at a salon; it’s a medical procedure that must be performed by someone specially trained to handle surgical equipment. Some states require laser treatments to be supervised by a licensed doctor. In other states, you may be able to get treatments at a spa without a doctor on call.

Since all surgeries come with risks, you should only trust a professional with extensive experience in laser hair removal. Carefully research the credentials of any technician before you go in for your initial consultation. A reputable technician should offer to show you before and after pictures of their previous clients. Make sure you understand the payment policies and total estimated costs upfront.