Baring it All: Part 2.
The Step-By-Step Process of Laser Hair Removal
By Amanda Hoffman
Last month, in order to learn more about laser hair removal—the process, the pros and cons, the honest answers—Resident spoke with Lital Lev-Ary, owner of Light Touch Laser Spa. Lital is one of the most trusted laser hair removal professionals in the city, for a number of reasons. Beyond her expertise and knowledge, she's trusted for her complete honesty; she never overpromises or under-delivers.
This month, I decided to take it a step further—I decided the best way to understand the process of laser hair removal and write about it was to experience it firsthand. So I paid Lital a visit.
The session began with a full consultation; Lital stressed that this is an important part of the procedure, and that every client receives this prior to treatment. During the consultation, Lital evaluated my candidacy, my needs, and my limitations. Beyond that, what truly stuck out was the honesty and knowledge she provided. She emphasized that the procedure is about hair reduction, NOT hair removal. The body, Lital explained, will never be completely hairless, as it's constantly producing hair—and this is affected by stress, certain medications, hormones, and other factors, in addition to the body's normal hair growth patterns. But while laser hair removal will never fully eliminate hair growth, it will remove about 85-95%.
There are also plenty of instances when Lital will not treat a person or an area, and this is discussed during the consultation. For instance, Lital does not recommend sun exposure one month before or one month after the procedure. This is because the ideal situation is to increase the laser setting in each subsequent visit, but following sun exposure, increasing the laser will irritate and burn the skin.
Another instance is if the client is taking certain medications; Lital will not treat anyone on antibiotics, and requires a full month wait period following antibiotics. For other specific medications, she requires clearance from a doctor.
Finally, she won't go anywhere near tattooed skin, she avoids thin, light hair, she doesn't recommend light hair on the face (i.e. "peach fuzz"), and doesn't believe in touch-ups.
Following the in-depth consultation, the procedure begins, once the technician has chosen the right laser for a client's skin tone. During the entire laser process, Lital talked me through it, explaining it and making sure I was knowledgeable about what was going on. For example, she explained that rather than the laser penetrating the hair follicle (which is what many people believe), the hair absorbs the energy from the laser, and this energy travels down the follicle, thereby burning it. This is why there must be visible hair for a treatment to work—there has to be enough hair for the energy to travel down.
Lital explained that each session is about weakening these follicles through this process, and that every follicle needs about three to four sessions to be destroyed. Different areas of the body have different hair growth cycles: facial hair cycles are four to six weeks; body hair cycles are six to eight weeks; leg hair cycles are eight to ten weeks. There are also specific areas of the body which are affected by hormones.
For me, the procedure itself was not painless, but certainly tolerable. Talking through the session and learning more about the specifics of it actually made it even easier to tolerate, and the results are well worth the minimal discomfort.
I felt that while I lost body hair during my treatment, I gained a significant amount of knowledge. I learned that IPL is not the same as laser—IPL cannot target light hair or dark skin, and only results in a 50-60% reduction of hair—so it's important to make sure you're being treated with a laser machine, not an IPL.
Most importantly, I learned that if it sounds too good to be true, it is. If someone promises 100% permanent removal of hair, and that they can treat every part of your body, chances are they are not being forthright. That said, I'm very satisfied with the results of my session with Lital, and I definitely plan to continue seeing her. Beyond the hair removal itself, I felt comfortable with her, knowing that I could trust her on all levels—that she was being honest with me. This, to me, is priceless.
For more information on laser hair removal and Light Touch Laser Spa: lighttouchnyc.com