Laser Hair Removal (Light-Based Hair Reduction) Lumenis® – San Francisco, CA

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About Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal is one of the most common cosmetic procedures in the United States. It is a convenient method used to remove unwanted body hair with pulsed laser energy. This procedure utilizes advanced Lumenis technology to remove hair from the targeted area while leaving the surrounding skin unharmed and smoother looking. While there are many temporary treatments to remove unwanted hair, such as tweezing, shaving, using depilatory creams, and waxing, patients are usually pleased with this longer-lasting, less painful solution.

Tracy Evans, M.D., medical director at Pacific Skin in San Francisco, CA, is a board-certified dermatologist who performs safe and effective laser hair removal treatments for both men and women. The most common treatment areas include the legs, arms, back, face, armpits, and intimate areas.

Ideal Candidates

Individuals with excessive or bothersome hair growth in particular regions of the body are candidates for laser hair removal. Excessive hair growth may be the result of heredity, medication, or diseases or hormonal changes during puberty, menopause, or pregnancy. Whatever the cause of the condition, laser therapy may be an effective solution.

The success of laser hair removal is affected by hair color and skin type because the laser beams target the melanin, or pigment, in the hair. The most effective results usually occur in individuals with dark hair and light skin. Recent technological advances have made laser hair removal for dark-skinned individuals more successful while procedures to effectively remove light-colored hair with lasers are presently under investigation.

Procedure Technique

We always advise our patients to curb tanning of all kinds before and during the laser hair removal process. A greater contrast between hair color and skin color is ideal for the best possible results, and tanned skin closes that gap. At your appointment, you will relax in one of our treatment rooms as the areas of your skin to be treated are cleaned to remove dirt, oil, and lotions. Before the laser hair removal process begins, the targeted area will be numbed by a topical anesthetic to minimize any discomfort. A handheld device that emits intense laser pulses is then moved across the region, focusing on individual hair follicles. 

Hair growth takes place cyclically in three stages. The most effective laser hair removal takes place during the androgen, or full-growth stage because the follicles are most susceptible to the laser energy. Several laser treatments, often five or more spaced 4 – 6 weeks apart, are necessary because all of the hair is not in the same stage of growth at any given time. Also, various parts of the body have different growth cycles. For example, the hair growth cycle (active and resting phases) may complete within five months in the armpit area. The same cycle on the legs may take up to 12 months.

What to Expect

While laser hair removal is relatively gentle in nature, some redness, soreness, or swelling may occur immediately after treatment. These symptoms almost always disappear within a few days. Dr. Evans recommends cold compresses, moisturizers, and anti-inflammatory creams to minimize any discomfort. For some period of time after each treatment, patients should avoid sun exposure as much as possible. It can cause unnecessary irritation to the skin and may downgrade the results of the next procedure. Once the recommended series of treatments is completed, and the skin has had a few days to recover from the effects of intense light, it may be possible to be in the sun. However, we encourage our patients to always wear sunscreen to minimize premature aging and skin cancer risk.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does laser hair removal cost?
Laser hair removal varies in cost, depending on the size of the treatment area, as well as how many sessions are needed to attain a smooth result. To help put the cost of laser hair removal into perspective, think of the time and energy you currently spend on waxing, shaving, or other temporary hair removal methods. Laser hair removal is usually more time- and cost-effective in the long-run. We will create a custom treatment plan for you that includes the total number of sessions recommended and pricing options to consider.

Is laser hair removal permanent?
While men and women can enjoy the benefits of laser hair removal for many years, it is considered semi-permanent because some hair follicles may not be affected by the laser. Most patients experience about 90% reduction in hair growth, which is sufficient to eliminate the need for shaving. The decrease in hair is long-lasting and can be maintained with touch-up treatments as needed. When hair does grow back after laser hair removal, it is usually finer, lighter, and much less in terms of the number of hairs in the treated area.

Why do I need multiple laser hair removal sessions?
Hair growth happens in cycles. While some hair follicles are in a live growing phase, others are dormant. Since each hair follicle grows in various stages, multiple treatment sessions are typically needed to target each hair follicle when it is in a growing phase. Spreading out your sessions over several weeks helps you get the smoothest, most effective result.

Are there alternatives to laser hair removal?
Most alternatives to laser hair removal achieve only temporary results. The one exception is electrolysis. Like laser hair removal, electrolysis disables hair follicles if performed correctly (professionally versus home electrolysis machines). While this may be the best alternative for some people, such as those with light hair or dark skin, electrolysis does require more treatment sessions than laser hair removal so it tends to be more costly in the long run.

Can I combine laser hair removal with other treatments?
It is not recommended to have other treatments, especially other laser treatments, performed on the same areas of skin with laser hair removal. However, patients of our San Francisco and Corte Madera offices may schedule certain skin treatments, such as dermal fillers, BOTOX, and other medical or rejuvenating therapies, to coincide with laser hair removal if those procedures are not conducted on the same skin treated with laser.

Rid Yourself of Razors

If you're tired of wasting time, money, and energy on shaving, waxing, and plucking, schedule a consultation to learn more about laser hair removal treatments. At Pacific Skin San Francisco, dermatologist Tracy Evans can help you get smoother skin by effectively treating unwanted hair follicles on the face and body. The sooner you begin treatments, the sooner you can be hair-free.

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*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.