Laser Hair Removal

by | Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal is a cosmetic procedure that uses laser light to target and destroy hair follicles, thereby reducing or eliminating unwanted hair. The treatment works by directing concentrated light into the hair follicles. The pigment in the hair follicles absorbs the light, which ultimately destroys the hair. While many individuals can benefit from this procedure, the ideal candidate typically has dark hair and light skin. However, advancements in technology have made it possible to treat a wider range of skin types and hair colors, though it might be less effective for individuals with lighter hair colors or very dark skin tones. It’s essential to consult with a professional to determine suitability and ensure the safest and most effective results.  In this article we will discuss:

  • Procedure Details
  • Results and Effectiveness
  • Safety and Side Effects
  • Pre- and Post-Treatment Care
  • Cost and Financing
  • Comparison with Other Methods
  • Equipment and Settings
  • Recovery and Downtime
  • Potential Contraindications
  • Miscellaneous
  • Credentials and Clinic Selection


Laser Hair Removal Procedure Details

The laser hair removal procedure is performed by a trained professional using a handheld device that emits concentrated laser light. During the procedure, the device is pressed against the skin, directing the laser light at the hair follicles. Each session’s duration varies based on the treated area’s size, but commonly, treatments can range from a few minutes for smaller areas like the upper lip to an hour for larger areas like the back or legs. Most individuals describe the sensation during the procedure as a series of quick, sharp pinches or like the snapping of a rubber band against the skin. It’s generally tolerated well, though some areas may be more sensitive than others. The number of treatment sessions required varies based on factors like hair thickness, the treated area, and individual hair growth cycles. Typically, multiple sessions (usually 6-12) are needed to achieve 70-90% hair reduction. It’s recommended to schedule treatments 4-10 weeks apart depending on treatment area to align with the hair growth cycle and achieve the best outcome.

  • The procedure uses a handheld device to target the root of the hair follicle with laser light.
  • Session duration varies: a few minutes for small areas, up to an hour for larger areas.
  • Sensation is akin to sharp pinches or a rubber band snap, with varying sensitivity.
  • Typically, 6-12 treatment sessions to achieve 70-90% hair reduction.
  • Treatments should be scheduled 4-10 weeks apart, depending on treatment area and growth rate.


Laser Hair Removal Results and Effectiveness

Laser hair removal offers long-lasting results. While it significantly reduces hair growth, it’s important to note that the treatment is not always 100% permanent. Any hair cells that are destroyed during laser hair removal treatment, are destroyed.  Over time, any hair that appears as regrowth are dormant cells that become active. It provides permanent hair reduction of 70-90% in most cases, it is rare for some to not achieve close to 50% hair reduction.  In extremely rare cases some may not have any reduction at all.  After the first treatment, you can expect to see a noticeable reduction in hair, but it’s common not to achieve complete hair removal immediately. The treated hairs will typically shed over the next few weeks post-treatment. The reason multiple sessions are required is due to the hair growth cycle. Hair grows in different phases, and the laser is most effective at targeting hair in its active growth phase (anagen phase). Since not all hairs are in this phase at the same time, multiple sessions ensure that hairs in different growth phases are adequately treated over time.  Laser hair removal cannot treat grey, silver, white, red, auburn or vellus hair. During the initial consultation we will discuss in detail if you are a candidate for laser hair removal.

  • Laser hair removal provides long-lasting but not always permanent results.
  • Over time, any hair that appears as regrowth are dormant cells that become active.
  • A noticeable reduction in hair is observed after the first session; complete removal takes time.
  • Treated hairs shed post-treatment over several weeks.
  • Multiple sessions target hairs in different growth phases for comprehensive results.
  • Laser hair removal cannot treat grey, silver, white, red, auburn or vellus hair.


Safety and Side Effects

Laser hair removal is a relatively safe procedure when performed by trained professionals. However, as with any medical or cosmetic treatment, there are potential side effects. Common side effects include temporary redness, swelling, and discomfort at the treatment site, which typically subside within hours to a few days. There’s also a risk of burning or scarring, especially if the procedure isn’t performed correctly or if post-treatment care is not followed. To ensure the safety of your skin during and after the procedure, it’s vital to choose a reputable and experienced practitioner. Follow any pre-treatment instructions provided, such as avoiding sun exposure or certain medications. After the treatment, it’s essential to keep the area clean, use sunblock and avoid sun exposure for at least 4 weeks if you are a skin type 1-3 and 8 weeks if you are a skin type 4-5 on some laser devices. Avoiding irritants and refraining from picking or scratching the treated area will also minimize the risk of complications.  During your consultation we will sit down and complete a fitzpatrick test to determine your skin type.  As those who have the ability to tan are more likely to be burned or injured if protocols are not followed correctly.

  • Common side effects: temporary redness, swelling, and discomfort.
  • There’s a risk of burning or scarring if not done correctly or with improper aftercare.
  • Choose a reputable, experienced practitioner for the procedure.
  • Follow pre-treatment instructions and avoid sun exposure.
  • Post-treatment: keep the area clean, use sunblock, and avoid irritants.


Pre- and Post-Treatment Care

Preparing your skin adequately before laser hair removal can enhance the treatment’s effectiveness and minimize potential side effects. Before the procedure, you should avoid sun exposure for at least four weeks, as tanned skin can increase the risk of complications. Using a physical sunscreen such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide with a SPF of 30 or higher is essential if you’re out in the sun. It’s recommended to shave the area to be treated 24-48 hours before your appointment. Shaving ensures that the laser targets the hair’s root and not the surface hair, which can cause burns. Post-treatment care involves keeping the treated area clean and free from irritants. Moisturizing lotions can help soothe the skin, but avoid products with harsh chemicals or fragrances. You should also avoid sun exposure for at least four weeks post-treatment and always use sunblock when outside. As for resuming normal activities, it’s best to wait at least 24-48 hours before exercising to prevent irritation. Sunbathing should be avoided during the course of treatment.

  • Pre-treatment: Avoid sun exposure for a minimum four weeks and use sunblock.
  • Shave the treatment area 24-48 hours before the procedure.
  • Post-treatment: Keep the area clean, moisturize, and avoid harsh chemicals.
  • Avoid sun exposure for a minimum of four weeks after treatment and use sunblock.
  • Wait 24-48 hours post-treatment before exercising and avoid sunbathing during the course of treatment.


Cost and Financing

The cost of laser hair removal varies based on several factors, including the geographical location of the clinic, the size and area of the body being treated, the number of sessions required, and the specific clinic’s pricing structure. On average, smaller areas like the upper lip might cost between $50 to $200 per session, while larger areas like the back or legs can range from $300 to $800 per session. Many clinics offer financing options or payment plans to make the treatment more accessible to a broader range of clients. This can include monthly installment plans or discounts for purchasing multiple sessions upfront. As for insurance, laser hair removal is typically considered a cosmetic procedure and, therefore, is not usually covered by health insurance plans. However, it’s always a good idea to check with your insurance provider and the treatment clinic for any possible exceptions or discounts.

  • Costs vary based on location, treated area size, sessions required, and clinic pricing.
  • Smaller areas may cost $50-$200/session; larger areas can be $300-$800/session.
  • Many clinics offer financing options and payment plans.
  • Laser hair removal is generally not covered by insurance as it’s seen as cosmetic.
  • Always check with your insurance provider and clinic for any potential coverage or discounts.

Comparison with Other Methods

Laser hair removal, waxing, and electrolysis are among the most popular methods for removing unwanted hair, each with its own set of advantages and drawbacks. Waxing involves the removal of hair from the root by applying a wax mixture and then swiftly pulling it off. It provides temporary results, with hair typically regrowing within 3-6 weeks. While waxing is effective for many, it can be painful and may result in ingrown hairs. Electrolysis, on the other hand, involves inserting a fine needle into each hair follicle and using an electric current to destroy it. It’s a more permanent solution than waxing but requires multiple sessions and can be time-consuming given its one-by-one hair treatment approach. Laser hair removal stands out as it targets multiple hair follicles at once, often resulting in quicker sessions and longer-lasting results compared to waxing. While not always permanent, it offers a reduction in hair growth over time and can make any regrown hair finer and less noticeable. Keep in mind that any “re-growth” overtime are hair cells which have been dormant that have now become active. Any hair cells that are destroyed during treatment are permanently destroyed. The choice of laser hair removal over other methods boils down to its efficiency, longer-lasting results, and the potential for less pain and fewer side effects compared to other methods.

  • Waxing offers temporary results with regrowth in 3-6 weeks and can be painful.
  • Electrolysis provides a more permanent solution but is time-consuming.
  • Laser hair removal targets multiple follicles at once, offering quicker and longer-lasting results.
  • Regrowth after laser treatment is often finer and less noticeable.With any true “re-growth” being dormant hair cells that are now active. All hair that is destroyed during treatment is permanently destroyed.
  • Laser hair removal can be more efficient, less painful, and have fewer side effects than other methods.


Equipment and Settings

For laser hair removal, various lasers are utilized, each designed to cater to different skin types, hair colors, and specific treatment requirements. The most common types include:

  1. IPL: Abbreviated for “Intense Pulsed Light”, is different from regular lasers. With its multiple wavelengths, IPL can treat larger areas in a faster time frame. The technology now allows to tailor the treatment to an individual client according to skin type, hair color and hair thickness. Increasing the effectiveness of success for a broader range of clientele.
  2. Alexandrite Laser: This is a popular choice for treating larger areas in people with light to olive skin tones. It has a faster repetition rate, making it suitable for larger body areas.
  3. Diode Laser: Suitable for both light and darker skin types, the diode laser offers deeper penetration into the skin, making it especially effective for thicker, coarser hair.
  4. Nd:YAG Laser: This laser is capable of reaching the deepest layers of the skin and is often chosen for treating darker skin tones. It’s less effective for lighter, finer hairs due to its wavelength.
  5. Ruby Laser: The oldest type of hair removal laser, it’s most effective on fair-skinned individuals with light hair. Due to its potential for melanin absorption, it’s not recommended for darker skin tones.

In addition to these primary types, settings on these lasers can be adjusted, including pulse duration and laser wavelength, to customize treatments for different hair and skin types. Modern laser systems often come with cooling mechanisms to increase patient comfort and reduce the risk of burns.

It’s essential for a professional to assess each individual’s skin type, hair color, and hair thickness to select the appropriate laser and settings. This ensures not only the effectiveness of the treatment but also the safety of the patient.

  • Various lasers cater to different skin types and hair colors.
  • Common types: IPL, Alexandrite, Diode, Nd:YAG, and Ruby lasers.
  • Laser settings, like pulse duration and wavelength, can be adjusted for customization.
  • Modern lasers often have cooling systems for comfort and safety.
  • A professional consultation is crucial to choose the right laser and settings.


Recovery and Downtime

After a laser hair removal session, the good news is that there’s typically minimal to no downtime. Most patients can return to their daily activities immediately post-treatment. However, it’s not uncommon to experience some temporary side effects like redness, swelling, and a sensation resembling a sunburn in the treated areas. These effects can last anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending on the individual’s skin sensitivity and the treatment’s intensity. For most, the redness and swelling subside within 24-48 hours. It’s recommended to apply a cool compress to the treated area to alleviate any discomfort. Additionally, while undergoing a series of laser hair removal treatments, it’s vital to protect the treated skin from direct sun exposure, as it can be more sensitive and prone to damage.

  • Minimal to no downtime post-procedure.
  • Temporary side effects like redness, swelling, and a sunburn-like sensation may occur.
  • Redness and swelling usually subside within 24-48 hours.
  • Use a cool compress to ease discomfort.
  • Protect treated skin from direct sun exposure to prevent sensitivity and damage.


Potential Contradictions

Certain medical conditions and situations can make laser hair removal a less advisable or unsafe option. People with conditions like vitiligo, lupus, or a history of keloid scarring might be at risk for complications post-treatment. Other conditions, such as certain types of skin cancers or active infections in the treatment area, may also contraindicate the procedure. Photosensitive conditions or medications can increase the risk of burns or other adverse reactions. As for pregnancy and breastfeeding, while there’s no concrete evidence that laser hair removal harms the fetus or affects breastfeeding, it’s generally recommended to err on the side of caution. Most professionals advise postponing the treatment until after pregnancy and breastfeeding due to the lack of extensive research in this area and the potential hormonal changes affecting hair growth patterns.

  • Medical conditions like vitiligo, lupus, and a history of keloid scars might increase risk.
  • Avoid laser hair removal if there’s an active skin infection or certain skin cancers.
  • Photosensitive conditions or medications can elevate the risk of burns or adverse reactions.
  • It’s advised to postpone treatment during pregnancy and breastfeeding due to limited research and potential hormonal changes affecting results.



Laser hair removal is a versatile procedure, but there are certain considerations to be aware of. If you have tattoos, it’s essential to proceed with caution. The laser targets pigment, which means it can also target the ink in tattoos, potentially leading to fading of the tattoo or skin burns. Therefore, laser hair removal is generally not recommended directly over tattooed skin. As for the body’s areas, laser hair removal can be done on virtually any part, from the face to the legs, underarms, bikini line, and more. However, some areas might be more sensitive than others, requiring additional care or a different approach. If you have a tan or plan to tan soon, it’s recommended to delay the procedure. Tanned skin increases the risk of complications like burns, hyper/ hypopigmentation, or reduced treatment efficacy, as the laser might not differentiate as effectively between the melanin in the skin and the hair follicle.

  • Laser hair removal over tattoos can lead to fading or burns; it’s not recommended.
  • The procedure can be performed on nearly any part of the body.
  • Some body areas may be more sensitive and require special care.
  • Tanned skin can elevate the risk of complications; delay the procedure if you’re tanned or plan to tan.


Laser Hair Removal Credentials and Clinic Selection

Ensuring you’re in the hands of a qualified and experienced practitioner is paramount for a safe and effective laser hair removal experience. Ideally, the practitioner should have a background in dermatology or cosmetic surgery and be certified specifically in laser treatments. The certification should come from a recognized board or organization in the field. Beyond formal qualifications, hands-on experience matters. Ask the practitioner about their experience, particularly with your skin type and hair color, as laser hair removal requires precision and understanding of individual variations. When choosing a clinic, research its reputation. Look for reviews and testimonials, and consider asking for before-and-after photos of previous clients. Ensure the clinic maintains a high standard of hygiene and uses updated equipment. It’s also critical to have a consultation before the procedure. It is the responsibility of the practitioner to complete a thorough consultation with you including a patch test before any treatment is started. Use this time to gauge the practitioner’s expertise and see if you feel comfortable with them and the clinic’s environment.

  • Practitioners should ideally have a background in dermatology or cosmetic surgery and be certified in laser treatments.
  • A complete and thorough consultation with a patch test should be concluded prior to any treatment.
  • Hands-on experience, especially with your skin and hair type, is vital.
  • Research the clinic’s reputation through reviews, testimonials, and before-and-after photos.
  • The clinic should uphold strict hygiene standards and use modern equipment.
  • The consultation can help assess the practitioner’s expertise and the clinic’s suitability.



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Sweet Expressions MediSpa is a Medical Spa located in Bowmanville Ontario specializing in treatments that are primarily focused on restoring the health of your skin. From Facials to Laser Hair Removal, Sweet Expressions MediSpa offers a wide variety of treatments to improve the relationship between you and your skin.  Proudly servicing Clarington Region and beyond.