Laser Hair Removal- Is it worth the zap ?

Laser hair removal has continued to gain popularity as an alternative to shaving, waxing and other forms of hair removal. However, many people question whether this method of hair removal is worth undertaking. In my experience, laser hair removal is more of a method for hair reduction, than permanent hair removal. In fact, I think this is one of the most important points to clarify because I started my treatments about 2 years ago with the misconception that it would lead to permanent hair removal. I have learned however, that at best, laser hair removal is more accurately characterized as long-term hair reduction, rather than permanent hair removal.

Although most people consider laser hair removal for different reasons, in general people turn to this method after growing tired of the skin irritation and pain associated with alternatives like shaving, waxing and tweezing.   These negative effects are not necessarily non-existent with laser hair removal, but the following considerations should help you to determine if laser hair removal is still worth undertaking:

What is it?

First, you should understand what exactly laser hair removal is and how it works. In simple terms, laser hair removal involves beaming a highly concentrated light into hair follicles. The color in the hair follicles absorbs the light, and then the hair becomes destroyed.  Laser is known to work better on dark pigmented hairs than light colored hairs, because the light from the laser is attracted to the color of the hair. 


Laser hair removal treatments are either sold as a flat rate per body area for unlimited treatments or treatments can be paid for one session at a time. In general, I find that the better option is to pay one fee for unlimited treatments because the amount of treatments that will be needed for the best results varies by individual but somewhere between three to five treatments are typically needed. For example, if the flat fee to treat an underarm area is $500 and five sessions are needed, but the per session fee is $150, an individual would end up paying $750 to treat this area instead of $500. This brings us to the point of addressing the average cost of laser hair removal. An accurate answer to this inquiry depends on the location and caliber of the treatment facility, and the size of the area being treated. However, it is expected that treatments on larger areas of the body to cost up to $300 per session. At that price tag, one expectedly questions the effectiveness of laser hair removal.


Based on my experience over the past two years, laser hair removal has led to permanent hair reduction, but it definitely has not led to permanent hair removal. By “hair reduction” I mean that hair re-growth takes several months to come back in. Most people will need up to seven treatments for best results and hair usually begins to grow in much thinner within a few months after each treatment. Also, because laser targets the pigment in the hair roots, one should avoid all forms of hair removal, besides shaving, in between treatments, and also avoid sun exposure six weeks before and after treatments. Treatments are usually spread out eight weeks apart.

Another real issue with laser hair removal concerns how painful each treatment is. Most people will describe laser hair removal to feel like multiple rubber bands stinging against the skin all at one time. This is true for the most part, but I have experienced some treatments that are far more painful than a rubber band snap, especially after consuming caffeine. For this reason, it is recommended to avoid consuming caffeine for at least one to two days before treatment. Caffeine is a stimulant to the nervous system and consuming any caffeinated products the day of or before treatment increases sensitivity to the laser.

Considering all factors, laser hair removal has been worthwhile in my experience. In fact, if you suffer from terrible skin irritation like ingrown hairs that are associated with all other forms of hair removal, laser hair removal might be your only hope of ever solving that problem. Not only does the laser reduce the hair re-growth process, but the laser also smoothens the skin and lightens areas of the skin that became darkened from traditional hair removal methods.

The most notable side effects from laser hair removal has been temporary pain and swelling right after treatments and the laser may temporarily lighten or darken treated areas. Avoiding sun exposure for the time periods mentioned above should lessen the likelihood of any skin pigmentation issues.