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What Hair Removal Results Should I Expect?

There are many different types of lasers used for hair removal purposes. Some provide temporary clearance (sort of like waxing), others provide long term clearance (but the hair eventually grows back), and others yet can provide permanent hair removal. So when you consider what your expectation should be for laser hair removal results, it almost entirely depends upon the type of laser you are being treated with.

Immediate Hair Removal Results Not Necessarily the Best

When undergoing laser hair removal sometimes it may seem like the quicker you see the hairs gone the better off you are. This is very much a byproduct of the instant gratification society we live in. However, when considering hair removal results, immediacy doesn’t necessarily equate to long term hair removal success.

Lasers operate on a principle of wavelength and the light emitted produces energy in the form of heat.
For hair removal purposes, the shorter the wavelength, the greater the amount of heat absorption occurs into the hair shaft and surrounding skin tissue. In such instances it is not uncommon to hear the hair “pop” as it absorbs the laser’s energy. A distinct malodor of burning hair can also be detected in such instances. The immediate results may reveal that the hairs are gone, or that the remaining ones are merely a singed black speck where the hair once was. Patients sometimes equate this immediate hair removal as success, and certainly if temporary removal is the goal then that may very well be the case. However, keeping in mind that the true target of laser hair removal is the root of the hair or the follicle, the immediate destruction of the hair shaft isn’t necessarily a recipe for long term success. For shorter wavelength lasers for hair removal, the hair shaft is used as a conduit to channel the energy to the true source: the root of the hair. However, much like skipping a stone across the water, as energy travels along the hair shaft it begins to slow down and lose intensity. By the time it reaches the follicle there may not be much energy left to cause much damage. On the surface it may appear that the loss of hair equals hair removal success. However, true long term success is found beneath what is visible to the naked eye.

What Does a Good Result Look Like After a Hair Removal Treatment?

If your hair removal goal is to eradicate the hair permanently then you shouldn’t have to wait long to start seeing results. Longer wavelength lasers for hair removal have shown to be safer and more effective for most people at achieving long term or permanent hair removal. However, that is not to say that a shorter wavelength won’t provide the same result if your profile is that of very light skin and very dark hair. In either case, one should expect to see some redness, small bumps, and even mild swelling in the skin immediately post treatment. You certainly don’t want to see discoloration in the form of lightening or darkening of your skin after laser hair removal as that means too much energy has been absorbed by the skin. Not only can that damage the skin, but it also means less energy has reached its desired target which is the hair follicle. As far as seeing the hair disappear after a laser hair removal session, it can take a few days to a couple of weeks to see damaged hairs disappear. Sometimes the visual effect at the surface may seem minimal; you may even see the hair still present immediately after laser hair removal. This in fact may be a very good sign! If most of the energy has gone into the hair follicle versus the hair shaft, there is a greater likelihood of permanent hair removal. In such cases where the hair follicle is disabled, the hair shaft may remain attached temporarily. However, through bathing and normal day-to-day activities, that hair shaft will release from the follicle, revealing smooth, hair free skin.

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