Laser hair removal - treatment, cost and process explained
If you feel as though you’re waging an endless battle against hair that’s growing in places you’d rather it didn’t, laser hair removal is very possibly the solution you’ve been waiting for.
Increasingly popular, with its global market estimated at US $444 million in 2020, laser hair removal is one of the easiest, albeit more expensive, ways to leave your skin feeling smoother than ever before.
But how exactly does the process work? What does laser hair removal cost? And are the results permanent?
In this article:
Duration of results
6 to 12 months
Back to work
Full recovery time
No recovery time
50 SAR to 1,000 SAR
15 minutes to 1 hour
OTC pain relief
What is laser hair removal?
Laser hair removal is an innovative cosmetic procedure that uses a powerful laser or intense pulsed light (IPL) to remove unwanted hair. The light source heats and destroys hair at its follicle, which slows down hair growth, eventually halting it altogether.
The most common areas to treat are the face, chest, legs, arms, underarms, and bikini line. Home laser hair removal devices are available, but for the best results, and increased safety, book an appointment with a qualified practitioner.
How does the laser hair removal process work?
Before the treatment
Your initial consultation is a great opportunity to have all your questions answered, and expectations managed, from how many treatments you might need, to how permanent the results might be.
You need to avoid taking the hair out from the root for at least four to six weeks before the treatment. That means no waxing, tweezing, or threading. Also, avoid bleaching.
You will need to arrive at the clinic clean shaven. This is really important to reduce the chances of skin irritation or discomfort – as the laser is attracted to the pigment in the hair follicle, so any hair above the follicle exposed to the laser, could cause your skin to get burnt slightly.
For the best results, remove any lotions or makeup and avoid tanning and fake tan for a month before, as laser hair removal is most successful on paler skin tones, more on which later.
During the treatment
When you arrive, you’ll usually be given a pair of goggles to wear while the practitioner applies cooling gel on the area. They’ll then use a handheld device to deliver the treatment. Sessions will last between 15 minutes and one hour, depending on the size of the area being treated.
After the treatment
Your skin may feel sensitive following the session. This is completely normal and will usually last for a few days. It’s a good idea to stay out of the sun after undergoing laser hair removal for at least 24 hours, as hair-free skin is more vulnerable to the effects of the sun’s rays. And it’s recommended that you avoid sunbathing for four weeks after.
Do not bathe in hot water, go swimming, or excessively exercise for 48 hours after laser.
Laser hair removal cost - and other things you need to know
It’s important to consider any cosmetic procedure fully before having it, so you can make an informed decision. From time commitment to budgeting, laser hair removal requires both.
How much does laser hair removal cost?
Pricing can vary depending on the clinic you choose, and whether you’re able to secure a special introductory offer.
The area you’re having treated makes a difference too, as cost relates to how long the treatment will take.
Typically, you can expect the average cost to be:
- Small body area (ie armpit) – between SR50 and SR300.
- Medium body area (ie bikini) – between SR100 and SR500.
- Large body area (ie arms or back) – between SR500 and SR1000.
It all depends on the clinic and your specific needs – for example, you may have thicker hair that needs more treatments. Use our clinic locator to find potential options near you.
How long does laser hair removal last?
Lasering should stop hair from re-emerging – at least for a while. To begin with, hair may grow back after several weeks or months, and you will need regular treatments to make it permanent.
Laser removal on body hair may typically last up to two months after a session, though it can be less.
Facial hair typically grows back quicker in around four weeks.
However, after a full course of treatment – usually six sessions – the hair removal can last for years – and hair won’t grow back as dark, or as thick, when it does.
Will hair removal work for you?
As the laser is attracted to the pigment in the hair follicle, the treatment was traditionally most successful on paler skin, with darker hair. However, newer lasers on the market can target the melanin in the root of the hair without dispersing into the surrounding dark skin, making the treatment accessible and successful for all skin tones. Meanwhile, lighter hair colours (such as red or blonde) don’t usually respond to traditional laser treatments, but the technology is evolving all the time. How many treatments you will need, will differ, so make sure to discuss your expectations in detail at your initial consultation.
Does it hurt?
The treatment isn’t considered painful compared to other cosmetic procedures, but you will feel certain sensations.
Some patients report a quick, sharp pain, though others feel little to no discomfort. If you’re sensitive, apply a topical numbing gel – available in most pharmacies – to the area being treated, half an hour before your appointment. And ask your clinician if you are in any way concerned before, after or during the procedure about pain or discomfort.
Are there any side-effects?
Your skin may appear raised or develop a slight bumpy redness afterwards. Some people experience discomfort in the area that’s been treated, though this is generally rare – as are the chances of your skin being burnt slightly by the laser. Benadryl can help with any itching sensations you experience, and you should speak to your practitioner if a rash develops. In general, laser treatments are far less irritating to the skin than waxing, shaving, or threading.
Is it safe?
Laser hair removal is considered a safe cosmetic treatment provided you choose a practitioner with the right qualifications and experience. It’s a non-invasive procedure, so recovery and side-effects are usually minimal.
What alternatives can I try?
If you’d rather not have the full laser treatment, there are other options:
- Waxing: Waxed tape, or hot wax, is used to tear out hairs from the root. Remember to cleanse and exfoliate properly in the days beforehand for best results.
- Threading: An Asian hair removal treatment that goes back centuries, most commonly associated with eyebrows. Like waxing, this can be a very quick option but can also be somewhat uncomfortable. Remember not to wear eye make-up or mascara beforehand, as this will smudge.
- Epilation: An alternative form of hair removal that also removes it from the root. At-home devices are available for this – but it can be painful.
- Electrolysis: Usually performed by a dermatologist, the process works by inserting an epilator device into the skin and disrupting hair growth by using shortwave radio frequencies. A good, long-term alternative to lasers.
- Laser hair removal was first invented in the 60s, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that it became a widely available treatment.
- Almost three-quarters of people (71 per cent) who had the treatment were satisfied with the results, according to a study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.
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