Both men and women have struggled for years with the removal of unwanted hair from the face, underarms, bikini, legs, and other parts of the body. Today, hair reduction (sometimes called permanent laser hair removal) is easier than ever with laser hair systems like those made by Cutera, Syneron, and Alma Lasers. Unlike painful electrolysis or waxing, these systems use a YAG laser, a diode laser, or a diode/RadioFrequency (RF) combination, to remove unwanted hair. Because we offer three hair removal systems, we can incorporate their technologies together as needed for the best results. Both Cutera and Syneron offer better results and quicker treatments than other systems, resulting in a cost-effective solution for you. Additionally in the beginning of 2013 we introduced the Alma Soprano laser to our line-up, offering virtually pain free hair removal.
What is Laser Hair Reduction and what does it do?
Laser hair reduction works by YAG or diode lasers causing localized damage to hairs by selectively heating dark target matter (melanin) in the area that causes hair growth (the follicle) while not heating the rest of the skin. This process essentially targets and destroys the hair follicle, inhibiting that follicle from producing hair. Once that hair follicle is destroyed, that follicle cannot grow hair again. However, your body will develop new hair follicles throughout your lifetime, so the true nature of "permanent hair removal" is sometimes misconstrued or falsely marketed.
Hair removal lasers have been used since the late 90s and have been approved for "permanent hair reduction" by the FDA. "Permanent hair reduction" is defined as the long-term, stable reduction in the number of hairs re-growing after a treatment regime. It does not mean 100% removal of all hairs for the rest of your lifetime, and you should not have this expectation or be told by any company or clinic that this is possible. All patients need follow-up or maintenance treatments after an initial series of treatments is completed to address newly developed follicles.
Benefits of laser hair reduction treatments are delayed re-growth of the hair, lightening of the hair, decreased density of the hair, and long-term or permanent reduction in the number of hairs growing in the treatment area. Almost all patients experience noted hair loss from a treatment series; however, there is a 5% non-responder group. In most cases, people will experience 70% permanent hair loss.
- Fewer ingrown hairs
- Less time to get ready
- Smoother, softer skin
- Even skin tone, without bumps or scarring
- More areas can be treated
Laser hair reduction works best with dark, coarse hair. Light skin and dark hair are an ideal combination because higher energies can be used and more melanin is present, but new lasers are now able to target lighter hairs and darker skin, as well. Older systems had a tendency to burn skin and treatment lengths were excessively long, but the newer Cutera and Syneron systems we have are safer and have much shorter treatment times. You can read more about the Cutera, Syneron, and Alma systems, as well as see before and after photos, by visiting their websites at www.cutera.com, www.syneron.com, and www.almalasers.com.
Hair reduction treatments need to be done as a series of at least six treatments. The length between treatments is determined during your consultation, as each area of the body has different growth cycles. Only hairs within specific stages of the hair growth cycle can be effectively treated. For instance, the face has a much shorter growth cycle than the legs, so areas like the face can be treated every 4-6 weeks, while areas like the legs need months between treatments. For an overview of the hair growth cycle, please see below. Multiple treatments are needed for full effects. You should expect to do maintenance treatments after your initial series is finished to address newly developed follicles, and we will discount these treatments for you.
What areas are treated with Laser Hair Reduction?
Any area of the body that grows hair can be treated with laser hair reduction. This includes the face, bikini, underarms, back, chest, legs, arms, or any other areas. Prior to receiving a treatment, you should closely shave the area to be treated so that the laser can target the hairs better.
What is a Laser Hair Reduction treatment like?
Before you begin a laser hair reduction series, you will discuss the procedure with Dr. Rueckl or one of the certified technicians, sign a consent, and if desired, take pre-treatment photos. On the day of your treatments it is best if you come in with the area(s) shaved that day. (This allows the laser to penetrate the follicle better, as it's attracted to melanin and color. Unshaved or areas shaved a few days prior will attrach the laser at the surface, rather than at the follicle depth.) A topical anesthetic will be applied to the area being treated to reduce any associated discomfort. Many offices charge extra for topical anesthetics but we have always believed that your comfort should come first, so we include this at no charge for any procedures in our offices. The topical cream is kept on for about 15-20 minutes. With the Alma laser, many people find the procedure so comfortable thanks to its constant moving technology, that they don't require cream. However, if you do like to have numbing cream, you are always more than welcome to, no matter which laser is being used on you.
For Cutera and Syneron treatments, to perform the treatment, cold gel will be applied, then cold air will be blown from another machine onto the treated area, and finally your technician will use the special treatment applicator on the system to pulse the area with flashes of the YAG or diode laser. The applicator is dragged with full contact across the treated area, with multiple passes being done for full effects.
For Alma Soprano treatments, to perform the treatment, cold gel will be applied, but the cold air system will only be needed if you require it. Many people don't need the air chiller with this system. The technician will use the specialized Alma handpiece to constantly move the treatment head in a pattern in each treated area. The Alma technology allows a constant movement, rather than a single pulse. This means a higher energy is delivered consistently into an area, allowing higher treatment energies but a constant flow of the energy and less pain for you. The Alma system also has the ability to treat single targeted pulses like the Cutera and Syneron systems but this modality is preferred only when you have few sparse hairs in a specific area, or when you are treating the upper lip.
Regardless of which machine used, there should not be a significant amount of pain, but some areas of the body may be more sensitive than others. You should feel what can be compared to a rubberband snap in the most sensitive areas. Never should you feel so much pain that the procedure is intolerable.
When the area has been fully treated, your technician will apply hydrocortisone to any needed sites. Also, sunscreen will be applied to any exposed areas.
What kind of results can I expect from a Laser Hair Reduction treatment?
Your skin may appear slightly red or warm for a few hours after the treatment, similar to a light sunburn. Rash-like mild edema or erythmia may be present. You can apply hydrocortisone to these sites. Hair loss will be most evident 10-14 days after each treatment. Makeup can be applied immediately after a treatment and you can resume any normal activities. There is no downtime with this procedure.
You should have realistic expectations and remember that multiple treatments are needed. A minimum of six treatments are usually done in each series. Over time you should notice less growth, and see that remaining hairs are lighter, shorter, and thinner than before. Follow-up treatments will be needed in the future and are offered at a discounted rate after the initial treatment package is completed. Most often people elect to have maintenance procedures done every 6-12 months depending upon your hair growth cycles and the treated area.
How much does Laser Hair Reduction cost?
The best way to determine your price would be to visit us for a free consulation. Laser hair reduction can be priced per area, or if you are electing to have multiple areas treated, the treatments can be priced by time length. We charge at a rate of $500 per hour, and your technician will help you determine how much time your treated area will take. Packages of six treatments are offered at a 20% savings if they are prepaid in full. After your inital series of six treatments is completed (whether you pay in full or per time), maintenance priced treatments are offered at significantly reduced rates, usually at half off the hourly rate.
Though patients often feel that laser hair removal can be pricey, when documented and compared to ongoing prices of shaving or waxing, the cost-benefit becomes very apparent.
Our prices are based upon our technicians' high level of experience, the care you receive, our value-added benefits, the direct supervision of a Board-certified dermatologist, and the consumable costs for our treatments. While other offices may offer different pricing structures, we are confident that you will not receive the same level of care from any other facility.