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What Is Facial Laser Hair Removal?

Laser hair removal on the face is a noninvasive medical procedure that uses a beam of light (a laser) to remove hair from the face. It can be done on other parts of the body too, like the armpits, legs, or bikini area, but on the face, it’s used primarily around the mouth, chin, or cheeks.

How does laser hair removal on the face work?

Laser hair removal is a cosmetic skin care procedure that relies on selective photothermolysis. The laser will send a light pulse targeting the pigment in the hair. The energy will then travel through the hair to the follicle. There, the light will change to thermal energy and damage the follicle. The blood vessel feeding it will cauterize. Damaged and without fuel, the hair follicle will no longer be able to produce more hair.

Patients must shave prior to each laser hair removal appointment. Long hair may reduce the effectiveness of the treatment as the energy would need to journey further to get to the follicle. Furthermore, long hair may increase the risk of burns. To be effective, the laser must find the hair to get through the follicle. That is why patients must not wax or sugar prior to their session. Indeed, both will remove the hair along with the root, leaving nothing for the laser to target.

The hair growth cycle also needs to be remembered when undergoing laser hair removal. Indeed, the treatment only works with the hair in the anagen phase of growth. As a matter of fact, it is the only time the hair and the follicle connect and when the energy can travel from the former to the latter. Unfortunately, only 20% of all body hair is in that right phase of growth at any point in time. That is why only 20% of hair can be treated during each session of laser hair removal. This also explains why patients need several sessions six weeks apart.

Procedure for laser hair removal on the face

Before the laser hair removal procedure begins, your face will be thoroughly cleaned and a numbing gel may be applied to the treatment area. You’ll be given goggles to wear, and your hair will likely be covered.

The practitioner will aim the laser at the specified area. Most patients say the sensation feels like a rubber band snapping against the skin, or a sunburn. You may smell the scent of burnt hair.

Because the face area is smaller than other parts of the body, like the chest or legs, laser hair removal on the face will generally be pretty quick, sometimes done in as little as 15–20 minutes.

What to expect after laser hair removal on the face?

In the days following laser hair removal, you can expect to resume most of your normal activities, though you should refrain from exercise and direct sun exposure.

Expect to be a bit patient — it may take up to 2 to 3 weeks for you to see a noticeable difference in hair growth, and it may take several sessions to see full results.

Results should be permanent, though you will likely need one yearly maintenance appointment.

How Effective is Laser Hair Removal for Face

Laser hair removal is an effective method of removing hair on any part of your body; the number of treatments is dependent on the area treated in addition to your skin and hair type. According to that massive study that began in 2005, facial hair was treated to a nearly 80% removal in an average of five treatments.

But, how is laser hair removal effective on the face?  Especially interesting is comparing this effectiveness to other popular hair removal treatments like electrolysis and waxing.

Laser hair removal is more effective than electrolysis or waxing for facial hair.

A study published in 2001 in Dermatologic Surgery systematically compared three hair removal methods in thirty subjects. Hair removal from the face was one body area that the study chose to research using needle electrolysis, hot wax, and laser hair removal.

The results showed that laser hair removal yielded a significant amount of hair loss after only the first visit, as compared to electrolysis or waxing which showed no notable difference in growth.

Preparing for laser hair removal on the face

Your doctor should tell you in advance exactly how they’d like you to prepare for your laser hair removal treatment, but here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • Avoid sun exposure in the days before treatment, as laser hair removal doesn’t work well on tanned skin.
  • Avoid peels or other chemical treatments in the week leading up to your procedure, which may irritate the skin.
  • You may be told to shave or wax the area beforehand.
  • If possible, arrive at your appointment with clean, makeup-free skin.
  • Try to arrive with a low body temperature (i.e. don’t power walk to your appointment). If you’re warm, to begin with, the laser may feel more uncomfortable.
  • Avoid aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs or herbal remedies that may increase bleeding.
  • Reschedule your appointment if you have a cold sore or another open cut on your face.

What to expect after laser hair removal on the face?

In the days following laser hair removal, you can expect to resume most of your normal activities, though you should refrain from exercise and direct sun exposure.

Expect to be a bit patient — it may take up to 2 to 3 weeks for you to see a noticeable difference in hair growth, and it may take several sessions to see full results.

Results should be permanent, though you will likely need one yearly maintenance appointment.

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