Laser Hair Removal

Unwanted hair can be embarrassing and a hassle to maintain. While you can shave, tweeze, and wax, the upkeep just never seems to end. Imagine if you could significantly reduce or eliminate unwanted hair. Now you can. Laser hair removal-available in our Northern California medical facilities-can safely reduce unwanted hair from any part of the face or body. It's an effective option for most men and women.    

Click for a list of Kaiser Permanente locations offering laser hair removal in Northern California.

About laser hair removal

This noninvasive laser treatment uses gentle beams of light to get rid of hair. The hair's melanin (the part that gives hair its color) absorbs the light, which turns into heat. The heat damages the follicle (but not the surrounding skin or tissue) and prevents it from producing more hair. Treatments typically last about 30 minutes and you don't have to take time off to recover-so you can get back to your normal activities immediately. Laser hair removal usually requires three to seven treatments and works best for people with light skin and dark hair. 

Laser hair removal can treat hair anywhere on the face or body. Women often treat the bikini area, chin, upper lip, and legs. Men can safely eliminate unwanted hair from places such as their backs.

What is the treatment like?

Administered by a licensed nurse or physician, a small hand-held laser device used to deliver the light beams is placed on the treatment area. You might experience some mild discomfort during the session-like the feeling of a rubber band snapping against your skin. A topical anesthetic can be applied 60 minutes before your session, if needed, and some people like to briefly apply an ice pack afterwards. During the procedure you'll wear tinted goggles to protect your eyes from the laser light.

For each treatment, we typically schedule three to seven sessions about four to five weeks apart.

Am I a good candidate?

Laser hair removal works when the light beams are absorbed by the melanin in the hair shaft and follicle. People with dark hair are considered the best candidates. Blonde, gray, and strawberry-blonde hair may not absorb the laser light. And contrast between the hair and your skin is also important, so people with dark or olive-colored skin may not have enough contrast for the beams to be absorbed by the hair follicle.

Each person responds differently to laser hair removal. Some may require more treatments than others. And sometimes laser hair removal can't eliminate hair completely. If some hair does grow back, it's usually thinner and finer than before the treatment.

What can I expect before and after treatment?

Before Your Treatment
You can prepare for laser hair removal by not waxing or plucking hairs in the treatment area for four to six weeks before your treatment-hair follicles must be present to be treated. You can still shave and, in fact, you'll be asked to shave your treatment area 24 to 48 hours before your scheduled appointment. Because laser hair removal depends on the color of your skin and hair, you should not sun tan for a minimum of six weeks before your treatment.

After Your Treatment
There may be some redness or bumps immediately after the treatment, but nothing that will keep you from your daily activities. Some people apply a temporary icepack on their treatment area. You don't need time to recover after your session, so you can participate in almost all of your regular activities immediately after your appointment. You should, however, avoid exposure to the sun for the following four to six weeks.

What should I look for in a laser practitioner?

The treatment should be performed by a registered nurse (RNs) or physician who's trained to operate a laser. Different treatment choices must be made for each patient. Side effects, such as skin discoloration, can result if the laser is operated by an inexperienced practitioner. At Kaiser Permanente, we provide only laser trained RNs or physicians to deliver high-quality care to our patients.

 

Are there any risks?

Laser hair removal is a safe procedure, but there are some risks. Some people may experience redness, swelling, bruising, blistering, or superficial skin erosions that are temporary and heal with time. Another risk is skin discoloration, which can last for several months or may be permanent.

I'm interested! What's my next step?

Call your nearest Kaiser Permanente Cosmetic Services center to schedule a consultation to determine if you're a candidate for laser hair removal and to learn more about the procedure. Click on the list of centers offering laser hair removal and find the center nearest you.

Laser Hair Removal is available at these Northern California Kaiser Permanente Locations: