You've probably heard about how lots of European women don't give a fig about underarm hair or hair on their legs. But many other women are not as accepting of body hair as their European counterparts. And throughout history, women have been employing various techniques to do this: from ancient Egyptian women's use of beeswax and sharp implements to eliminate leg hair up to the modern-day practices of waxing and the use of lasers to achieve a smooth and hairless complexion. Here, we'll take a quick look at some of the pros and cons of laser hair removal and whether it's the right path to take for a more hairless you.
Hair is removed via lasers in the following way: a series of low-level laser beams is targeted at hair follicles (or the root of the hair) in certain areas of the body. The hair then falls out and new growth is discouraged. Here are some of the reasons for the popularity of laser hair removal:
- Long-lasting results. The laser beams zoom in on hair follicles, either destroying them or significantly disabling them. Thus, hair is a lot slower to grow back and in some cases, they don't grow back altogether. And any hair that grows back tends to be finer, thinner, and less visible. Imagine the time savings you could realize. Finally, freedom from regular bikini waxes, leg-shaving, and facial hair-plucking!
- Broader and more convenient applications. Laser hair removal technologies and equipment have evolved in such a way that it is now possible to treat broad areas of the skin - such as the back and legs - in addition to localized areas like the skin above the upper lip and around the nipples. There is a wide variety of laser hair removal gadgets and equipment to suit individual cases.
- Increased safety regulations. Hair removal via laser is a process approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). So, the techniques used must meet stringent regulations. In addition, individual states themselves are issuing criteria that laser hair removal cosmeticians must comply with in order to practice their trade.
Laser hair removal may seem like a godsend to many a woman, but she would do well to remember that it is not a "one-size-fits-all" sort of technology. Like most other cosmetic procedures today, it does have its disadvantages, the following of which are just a few.
- Slower results for dark-skinned or tanned women. Laser hair removal procedures are most suitable for individuals with light-colored skin and dark hair because the laser beam targets dark material. Dark skin pigmentation can prevent lasers from reaching the hair follicles more rapidly. Evidence also shows that the lighter a woman's hair color, the less efficient the technology is in eliminating those problem hairs.
- Laser hair removal treatment costs. It takes several sessions to rid a body part of hair, and each session costs on average $300 up to $1,000. It really depends on how much hair needs to be removed and the type of lasers used. Some clinics' laser hair removal prices are calculated on a "per-pulse" basis and several hundred laser pulses may be needed to remove hair in just one area. Also, because hair grows in cycles, it's almost a sure bet that repeat sessions will be needed to ensure that all unwanted hair is removed - which translates to more cash out of your pocket.
- Potential side effects or no effect at all. All cosmetic procedures carry a risk of adverse effects, and laser hair removal is no exception. Patients have complained of first- and second-degree burns, blisters, and lesions. Others have noted that patterns of hair regrowth are patchy and unpleasant to look at. And still others have inexplicably experienced insignificant or no hair loss at all, despite their being ideal candidates for the procedure.
Laser hair removal is just one of the wonders of modern dermatology, technology that can make a woman look more beautiful in the shortest amount of time and in the safest way possible. Although procedures like this are constantly changing and improving, you shouldn't just rush blindly into it. It's important to consult your dermatologist and conduct your own research to determine whether you'll be getting the maximum benefits that medical laser techniques can offer.