There’s nothing worse than growing hair in all the wrong places.
Everybody knows that!
But, while a quick shave can fix you up in no time, it’s not always your best bet. After all, those pesky hairs always grow back thicker.
If you’re tired of shaving every other day, a full-body laser hair removal may be the thing for you.
So, here’s everything you need to know before you “go under the laser.”
What's Inside This Article?
- What is Full-Body Laser Hair Removal?
- How Do Laser Hair Removal Treatments Work?
- Is Full-Body Laser Hair Removal Safe?
- Is Full-Body Laser Hair Removal Painful?
- How to Prepare for a Full-Body Laser Hair Removal
- Does Full-Body Laser Hair Removal Come with Any Side Effects?
- Is Full-Body Laser Hair Removal Costly?
- The Takeaway
What is Full-Body Laser Hair Removal?
As the name implies, full-body laser hair removal is a medical procedure that removes all your unwanted body hair through the use of concentrated beam lights (laser).
That means you can get rid of every little hair that makes you feel self-conscious, whether it grows on your back, chest, shoulders, or glutes.
How Do Laser Hair Removal Treatments Work?
To understand how laser hair removal (LHR) works, we need to get to the root of the issue (literally) and talk about hair follicles first.
Hair follicles are teeny-tiny organs that are found all over your skin.
These tube-shaped sacks are responsible for hair growth – which is why they lie at the root of every hair shaft.
Now, during treatment, the laser machine emits a beam of concentrated light which is absorbed by the pigment (melanin) in your hair.
When that happens, the light is trapped within the hair shaft and converts into heat. In its turn, the heat damages the hair follicle, which stunts hair growth.
And that’s how (and why) your hair becomes thinner after each session and takes more time to grow.
Also, note that hair with little or no pigment can’t absorb as much light as dark hair, which makes them resistant to LHR.
So, by default, guys with blonde, ginger, gray or white hair may not be able to get rid of their stubble.
Oh, and another thing: Despite what you’ve heard about your skin tone affecting the results, know that there’s a wide variety of lasers out there.
So, you’re bound to find an option that matches your needs.
Is Full-Body Laser Hair Removal Safe?
For years now, LHR has been a go-to option for anyone looking to shed their unwanted hair, mainly because of its non-invasive nature.
Even research concludes that this method isn’t just safe but also beneficial in some cases.
But, what’s the deal with full-body laser hair removal? Is it also safe, or are there implications for future users?
After all, it doesn’t just affect a small area of your body, but pretty much all of it.
Well, the first thing you need to know is that LHR, full-body or not, isn’t a one-time deal.
You see, your skin can only take a certain amount of laser light and heat before it starts turning red and feeling like an over-baked potato.
So, if someone tells you that you can have a full-body laser hair removal in just one session, RUN, my friend, RUN!
Other than that, full-body LHR can be safe if the following requirements are met. So, whatever you do, make sure:
- The doctor tests how a small patch of your skin reacts to the treatment before you move onto the rest of your body and,
- The sessions are spaced anywhere from four to eight weeks apart (depending on how sensitive your skin is),
- You wear goggles during each session, and
- Prep properly before you hit the laser room (read below).
And a friendly note: These days, many salons and spas offer LHR services.
Unfortunately, while the operators know what they’re doing, they aren’t always licensed to provide such services.
So, if you do decide to go on with such a procedure, choose a board-certified dermatologist instead.
And if someone other than a doctor performs the procedure (see: nurse, resident doctor, etc.), make sure he/she is around to supervise the whole thing.
Is Full-Body Laser Hair Removal Painful?
Chances are you’ve heard your fair share of horror stories when it comes to laser hair removal and how painful (or borderline torturous) it can be.
Well, having done a full-body laser hair removal myself, all I can say is that in most of the cases, the stories you hear are 100% true.
You see, every time the laser fires, it feels like someone is piercing through your skin with a tiny needle.
And that’s exactly how I felt when I was lying there trying to get rid of my stubble trouble.
Some friends of mine have even mentioned that for them, each laser pulse felt more like a rubber band snapping against their skin, leaving them with a stinging and, at the same time, burning sensation.
Of course, if you’re not big on pain (duh!), there’s a way to minimize the discomfort, and that’s by finding a place that provides cold-air laser treatments.
In these sessions, dermatologists use specialized machines which feature a built-in cooling system that blows cold air on your skin throughout the treatment.
That reduces the sting every time a laser pulse is being released.
And for some good news: Even if a session turns out to be super uncomfortable, there’s zero chance your skin will be sore afterward unless you do something to irritate it.
How to Prepare for a Full-Body Laser Hair Removal
Part of going through a successful LHR treatment is getting ready for what’s to come.
In fact, putting in the prep work can take your manscape goals a long way, all while protecting your skin in the process.
So, here’s exactly what you need to do before you head into the laser room.
Stay out of the Sun
One of the first things you should keep in mind when going in for laser treatment is to avoid sunlight.
Sun exposure, artificial tanning, and store-bought tanning creams could mess with your skin’s reaction to the light beams.
So, stay out of the sun for at least six weeks before the treatment, and if possible, apply sunscreen daily.
If you don’t want to give up on your tanned look, you can always get a full-body laser hair removal in the winter.
Don’t Pluck or Wax Your Hair
Also, avoid waxing or plucking your unwanted body hair with tweezers for about six weeks prior to the treatment.
This way you won’t a) irritate your skin and b) damage the hair follicles.
Shave 1-2 Days in Advance
As counterintuitive as it sounds, shaving your hair before a treatment keeps it short enough for the laser light to reach deep down into the hair follicle.
This wouldn’t be possible if you had shaved, say, more than a week ago.
Not to mention that with longer hair in the picture, you’d risk burning your skin as the heated shafts would rest onto your skin after the treatment.
PS: Don’t forget to use a new, sharp razor and lots of depilatory cream to get a really close shave.
Avoid Blood-Thinning Medication
You should also stay away from antibiotics, NSAIDs, and antihistamines for at least a week before you go under the laser.
That’s because such medication could make your skin sensitive to sunlight and interfere with your pigment.
Take a Warm Shower
Make sure your skin is as clean as possible so that the laser light reaches the hair follicle easily.
To do that, wash your entire body thoroughly with warm water and soap and remove all dirt, oils, and cosmetic products (see: deodorant, perfume, etc.) that could interfere with the treatment.
Does Full-Body Laser Hair Removal Come with Any Side Effects?
Just like every treatment out there, full-body laser hair removal does come with a few side effects.
The good news is that they are actually minor and temporary, so they don’t last more than a couple of days.
However, it’s good to know what may occur post-treatment, so here’s a shortlist of all the adverse effects of LHR.
This is by far the most common side effect of full-body laser hair removal as the skin reacts to the laser light and heat of the treatment.
Luckily, this off-shoot is quite short-lived as tenderness and redness fade away just a few hours after the procedure.
If you can’t handle the pain, though, ask your doctor whether he/she can apply a topical anesthetic to minimize the discomfort until the sting wears off.
Alternatively, you could take a cold bath or soothe the irritated area with ice packs.
The heat generated by the laser may also lead to skin crusting.
That’s because the heat removes all moisture off of the treated area, causing the skin to dry up and wither.
To avoid such issues, just keep your recently lasered skin hydrated with alcohol-free moisturizers and creams. It’s as simple as that!
Skin Color Changes
In some extreme cases, you may also notice some minor changes in your skin color.
In fact, people with darker tones may see their skin turn a bit lighter while folks with fair skin may experience some dark pigmentation changes.
But, here’s the bright side:
The skin usually returns to its original color after a couple of days, so keep your cool if you experience such changes.
This is a very rare LHR complication, and in most cases, it depends on the way the practitioner handles the equipment.
So, choose wisely as to who stands at the other end of the laser beam.
Scars may also occur if you neglect to treat your skin properly after the treatment.
fact, if you forget to put on sunscreen and expose your skin to sunlight, chances are it will get blisters, and lead to an ugly scar.
Much like scars, burns are a rare side effect, and they occur only if the operator makes a mistake or you forget to tend to your sensitive skin post-treatment.
So, to minimize your chances of burning, don’t forget to politely ask your doctor to prep your skin with a cooling device and apply alcohol-free sunscreens and moisturizers after the LHR.
Is Full-Body Laser Hair Removal Costly?
You’ve probably guessed this one, but a full-body laser hair removal doesn’t come cheap.
After all, we’re talking about having multiple sessions here (sometimes up to eight), some of which may last for up to 1-2 hours, depending on the thickness and amount of hair you wish to remove.
On a positive note, though, you should know that certain areas such as the armpits, arms, and legs are less expensive than others.
So, if you don’t want to go all out at once, you could start with those, and slowly work your way to the rest of your body.
Also, note that insurance doesn’t cover such expenses.
So, it’s best to discuss the costs of the entire procedure with your dermatologist before you sit on his/her chair.
Specifically, find out how much each treatment costs, how many treatments you’ll need to achieve the desired result, and what are his/her payment options.
This way, you’ll be able to set up an efficient payment plan and avoid any financial pitfalls down the line.
Out of all the ways out there to get rid of your stubble trouble and get well-groomed, lasering off your fuzz has to be the most efficient.
Dang, this thing literally kills the hair follicle, preventing it from growing hair ever again.
And yes, it is costly and time-consuming, but if you add up all the shaving creams, clippers, and depilatory products you’ve used so far, it definitely makes a case for itself.
But, I want to hear your stories.
Have you shelled out on a full-body laser hair removal in the past?
Was it worth it?