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What is Laser Hair Removal and How Does It Work?

Dr. Phillip Chang

Dr. Phillip Chang

Board Certified By The American Board of Plastic Surgeons.
Voted Top Plastic Surgeon in Loudoun, Virginia
Offices in Leesburg, Virginia.

Realself Verified Doctor

If you are sick of waxing or plucking unwanted hair and wish there was a more permanent treatment to rid yourself of the unsightly hairs, laser hair removal might be a good option. Laser hair removal uses selective photothermolysis to target specific objects in the skin’s surface while not damaging the surrounding surfaces. Laser hair removal is more sustainable and cheaper than waxing or other hair removal processes. It permanently removes the hair so you’ll never need to shave or wax again, it reduces ingrown hairs, and it’s not as painful as waxing. For most people, around 5-8 treatments are needed in the desired area for the hair to be gone forever.

How to Prepare

Before your treatment, your physician will give you a set of directions for how to prepare. Typically the directions will include:

  • Showering and making sure your skin is completely clean. Do not apply any lotions or oils after your shower. 
  • Shave the area within 24 hours of the treatment. Do not tweeze or wax the area because the treatment only works if the hair follicle is present. 
  • Avoid sun exposure and any UV treatments such as tanning 2 weeks prior to the laser treatment. 
  • Use a broad spectrum SPF 30 on a daily basis.
  • Do not use any products that cause photosensitivity, such as hydroxy acids, salicylic acids, retinoids and benzoyl peroxide, 3 days before the treatment. 
  • Follow instructions regarding all prescriptions provided at your consultation. If you are taking different medications prior to your appointment (including antibiotics) contact your doctor prior to your treatment. 
  • Do not have botox injections, dermal filler injections, chemical peels or microdermabrasion in the treatment area within 14 days prior to the treatment.

What to Expect During Treatment

Once the area to be treated has been determined, the treatment area will be cleansed and prepared for treatment. While receiving the treatment, you will be required to wear protective eye gear. You will be able to see a flash of light, but your eyes will be completely covered. All areas of the body that are not being treated will be covered with clothing so that only the areas being treated are exposed. A typical hair session will range anywhere from 10 minutes (when treating a small area like the underarms) up to 2 hours (full body treatment).

What to Do After Your Treatment

After your treatment:

  • You may experience some redness and swelling in the treated area for several days. It may feel like razor burn or sunburn that can be treated with an over-the-counter aloe cream or hydrocortisone. 
  • You will start to notice the hair falling out over the course of the next few weeks. Patchy hair growth is expected and will dissipate with continued treatments. 
  • It is important to avoid heat or sun exposure for 24 hours after the treatment or scarring and pigmentation changes could occur. This includes hot tubs, working out, saunas etc. 
  • It is also recommended to continue using a broad spectrum SPF 30 everyday (rain or shine). 
  • Do not use any topical products that cause photosensitivity, such as hydroxy acids, salicylic acids, retinoids and benzoyl peroxide, for three days after the treatment. 
  • Continue following recommendations for prescriptions.
  • Do not have botox injections, dermal filler injections, microdermabrasion or chemical peels for 14 days after the procedure. 
  • Typically treatment schedules are as follows: 
    • Facial areas: every 4-6 weeks
    • Trunk areas: every 6-8 weeks
    • Leg areas: every 8-10 weeks
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For those wondering whether laser hair removal might be the best cosmetic solution for you, we invite you to simply come in for a complimentary consultation with Dr. Chang or one of the cosmetic laser and injection nurses to explore whether you would make a good candidate. To find out more whether Aesthetica can help you, contact us online or at 703-729-5553 to arrange an appointment. Dr. Phillip Chang is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Northern Virginia near Leesburg, Virginia and an expert in a wide variety of cosmetic treatments.

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