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How Bad Does Laser Hair Removal Hurt

by Lyndon Langley
How Bad Does Laser Hair Removal Hurt

How Bad Does Laser Hair Removal Hurt

Laser hair removal is one of those “feel good” things that you read about in magazines and see on television shows. It’s supposed to be painless, quick and relatively inexpensive. You can get rid of unwanted body hair with little or no pain, redness or swelling — and maybe even some cool new tattoos! Sounds great, right? Unfortunately for women who have darker hair, getting rid of their unwanted facial and underarm hair has been far tougher than advertised.
The first thing most people think when they hear the words “laser,” “hair removal,” and “painless” are how painful a shot at Botox really is (it isn’t). The second thought is usually how expensive laser treatment will be. And thirdly, many wonder if the results will be permanent. A lot of what we’ve heard regarding lasers and hair removal comes from outdated information that was based on light technology and procedures that were used before lasers became available.
In this article, we’ll talk about what you should know about laser hair removal so you can make an informed decision about whether or not you want to try it out yourself. We’re also going to dispel several myths that surround the process, including the idea that it hurts more than any other method of hair removal and that there aren’t any long-term benefits to using lasers over other types of treatments. Finally, let’s talk about some misconceptions surrounding laser devices themselves. First up, let’s debunk the myth about how bad laser hair removal hurt compared to other methods.
According to Dr. Robert S. Singer, director of cosmetic surgery with Dermatology Associates of New York, Lasers Image Consultants and Laser Institute of America President Michael Kelleher, “Most patients complain that laser hair removal is painful.” He continues, “I have never had a patient say that laser hair removal wasn’t painful, but I have heard comments like ‘It hurt more than waxing,’ or ‘the laser technician made me feel horrible.’ Most patients find the procedure uncomfortable, but it doesn’t last very long.” In fact, the majority of patients experience some degree of discomfort during laser hair removal, although the amount of discomfort varies from person to person. For example, some may experience only slight tingling while others might experience minor burning sensations in addition to mild discomfort.
For those who are curious, here are just a few examples of how laser treatment compares to other popular hair removal options: Waxing – Pain Level: 2/10; Numbing Creams – Pain Level: 4/10; Epilators – Pain Level: 6/10; Laser Treatment – Pain Level: 7/10. So why do some people insist that laser hair removal hurts worse than anything else? According to Singer, “Many technicians use low energy settings or high pulse widths which result in longer exposure times and higher temperatures, making them more likely to burn the skin.” Also, because lasers emit concentrated beams of light, the heat gets hotter closer to the surface of your skin. This means that the closer you are to the beam source, the greater the damage caused by the heat. If you’re standing directly underneath the laser device, for instance, you could end up receiving more burns than someone further away.
Now that we’ve talked about the physical aspects of laser versus non-laser treatments, let’s move onto the next big question: How exactly did these lasers work in the past? Read on to learn about how lasers remove hair today.
Noninvasive Laser Treatments
What Are Fractionated CO2 Lasers Used To Do?
Fractionated CO2 Lasers vs. IPLs
What Are Light Emitting Diodes Used To Do?
Light Emitting Diode Treatments
Dye Laser Treatments

Fractionated CO2 Lasers Used To Do
CO2 fractional lasers are often referred to as commercial lasers because they’re commonly used in businesses and medical offices. They break down hairs into smaller particles so they can be easily absorbed by the pores of your skin, effectively reducing the number of pigmented hairs growing back. Although these lasers tend to be pricey, they offer the best chance of permanently removing dark hair without damaging the skin.
What Are Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Devices Used To Do?
Intense Pulse Light devices (also called pulsed dye lasers) are common home hair removal systems. These machines use a combination of intense pulses of light and chemicals to target pigment melanin in the hair follicles. Melanin absorbs the light and heats up, eventually destroying the hair root. Because of the way these devices operate, they don’t penetrate deeper than 1 millimeter below the surface of the skin. However, they can still damage the epidermis layer of skin and dry out your skin. Additionally, since these machines rely heavily on chemical reactions rather than focused beams of light, they take much longer to perform each session. Therefore, they are ideal for treating larger areas such as entire legs or backs. They also have fewer side effects than their professional counterparts do.
Fractionated CO2 Lasers Vs. IPLs
Although both technologies share similar goals, each uses different equipment to achieve them. Fractionated CO2 lasers utilize beams of infrared light that run along the outer layers of the skin, whereas IPL devices send shorter wavelength wavelengths through the dermal tissue to destroy hair roots. Both technologies claim to be effective at removing dark hair, however, according to Singer, “There is no evidence to support this statement.”
Fractionated CO2 lasers tend to treat thicker areas better than IPLs do. For example, if you have thick leg veins, you would probably want to consider a laser instead of an IPL. On the other hand, if you have lighter colored hair and thin area, then an IPL might be a better choice.
Some experts believe that IPLs could potentially increase the risk of scarring. But, the Food and Drug Administration disagrees. According to FDA spokesperson Erica Robles, “We looked at all the studies out there and determined that there was nothing to indicate any association between IPL and scar formation.”
Read on to discover how LED lights target individual hairs.
Light Emitting Diode Treatments
LED light therapy works by targeting specific cells called melanocytes. When activated by a special lamp, the melanocytes release proteins that stimulate collagen growth, which helps thicken the epidermis layer of skin. Since LEDs cannot harm deeper tissues, they are considered safe for everyday use.
Light Emitting Diode Treatments
Diode lasers are small handheld devices that allow you to select spots where you want to receive treatment. Unlike IPL devices, diode lasers emit short bursts of intense light rather than a continuous stream of weaker light. The intensity of the burst depends upon the type of diode used. Some units produce pulses of green, blue or red light. Each color targets certain types of melanin differently. Green light tends to target eumelanin, the dark variety of melanin found in black hair. Blue light, on the other hand, preferentially destroys pheomelanin, the reddish pigment associated with blond or gray hair. Red light is known to disrupt the production of tyrosine, a protein necessary for producing melanin. As a result, red light is said to be the least effective option.
Although these lasers are helpful at selectively targeting hair, they still leave behind damaged follicle structures that can lead to ingrown hairs. Furthermore, because of the way these lasers operate, they require multiple sessions to complete the treatment.
If you decide to go ahead with laser hair removal, it’s important for you to choose a reputable salon or spa. There are plenty of places out there that advertise cheap prices, but you need to keep in mind that the quality of a service goes beyond the price tag. Look for salons and spas that boast industry awards and accreditations. Ask around for recommendations from friends and family members. Make sure they have appropriate training and certifications. Once you’ve narrowed down your search, look for reviews online and call your potential provider for answers to any questions you might have.
Next time, we’ll compare two popular types of lasers: fiber optics and diode lasers.
Light Emitting Diode Treatments
When choosing a device to use at home, it’s important that you purchase one that emits strong enough pulses of light to reach the desired depth. That being said, not all devices are created equal. Fiber optic devices, for example, have a lower power output than diode lasers do. If you plan on doing daily or weekly treatments, it’s best to invest in a unit that provides stronger pulses.
As mentioned previously, diode lasers come in various colors. Different colors affect how well they penetrate the skin. Devices emitting green light tend to be the most effective because they can target melanin located beneath the epidermis. On the other hand, blue lights kill melanocytes closest to the dermis, the middle layer of skin. By contrast, red lights are able to reach the deepest part of the skin, killing melanocytes within the dermis.
Other factors to consider include cost, size, durability, warranty, maintenance and aftercare instructions. After you buy a

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