Getting rid of unwanted hair can be like getting rid of weeds. No matter how often you pull, cut, or rip, they come back.
Some people, like member Teresa Black of Indianapolis, turn to laser hair removal to get rid of some unwanted hair that shaving, tweezing or waxing could not. Black says highly rated Dermatology Center of Indiana did a good job taming her pesky facial hair. But two years later, she wishes the results had lasted longer. “In some spots it didn’t come back and in others it did,” she says.
Dermatology service providers interviewed by Angie’s List say laser hair removal doesn’t permanently eliminate unwanted hair even for those people best suited for the treatment that uses pulses of light to destroy hair follicles. Because hair reduction outcomes vary depending on factors like your skin and hair type, you may need follow-up sessions later to get longer lasting results.
Tia Stewart, a certified aesthetician at highly rated Linda Woodson Dermatology in Las Vegas, says laser energy can’t always destroy the targeted hair follicles enough to keep them from reproducing. She says the body grows hair to protect the skin and it will try to repair the follicles. “Over time they can start growing hair again,” she says.
Nonetheless, laser hair removal offers an effective way to achieve permanent hair reduction, she says. It usually takes about six separate sessions over four to six weeks to get the best results because hair has a multiple stage life cycle and the laser energy can only damage the follicle when the hair is growing, Stewart says.
Bethany Strickland, a laser technician at highly rated Southlake Dermatology in Southlake, Texas, says new technology makes it easier to remove hair on all skin types. But she says people with dark skin or light-colored or red hair tend to get less successful results than others because the laser can’t differentiate between the pigment in hair and the pigment in skin. “It will target the melanin and absorb into the skin and burn,” she says. “If the hair is blond or gray or white, it will not work on that because it lacks color.”
If you have dark skin or light hair, Strickland recommends you find out what type of machine your service provider uses, research it and discuss with your provider the potential outcomes for your skin and hair type. “There are tons of different machines out there,” she says adding that some machines require little or no numbing cream to minimize pain that’s akin to getting snapped by a rubber band.
Local laws dictate the training credentials and service environment required to offer laser hair removal services. Besides dermatology practices, some spas in your area may offer laser hair removal services.
Stewart recommends making sure your technician has the required state credentials, machine-specific training and experience to know how and when to perform laser hair removal. For example, she says an experienced technician will know that a recent suntan affects skin pigmentation and delay treatment for a few weeks. “Sometimes we have to turn people away because they are not good candidates,” Stewart says.
Most women choose laser hair removal for their underarms and bikini-line area, Strickland says. Stewart says others target hair on the legs, upper lip, chin and sideburns, while men remove back hair. The cost of laser hair removal can vary, depending on a person’s size and how much hair they want removed, she says.
Strickland says Southlake charges $200 per session to treat the bikini line or armpit if the areas are done on different visits. If treated during the same visit, it costs $275, or $1,375 for a package of five sessions. . Treatment on eyebrows or upper lips cost $500 for a package of five sessions. Patients receive a 50 percent discount for maintenance sessions after that., Strickland says.
Stewart says Linda Woodson Dermatology allows customers to pay as they go, but recommends at least six sessions, spreading them out by four to six weeks, and gives discounts to patients who buy the treatment package. She says fees range from $75 to $400 per session, depending on the area being treated and how much hair is removed.
Black says she used an Angie’s List Big Deal to help pay for her initial sessions at highly rated Dermatology Center of Indiana more than two years ago. She say the treated areas remained hair free for nearly a year. Although some hair resurfaced on her chin, she’s satisfied enough with the results to do it again when her budget allows. “It did last for a good long while, and it’s been lighter ever since,” she says.